The San Juan and McKinley County Multi-Disciplinary Teams for Child Abuse Investigations lack sufficient tribal participation and signature on protocols. Childhaven has received a grant from the National Children’s Alliance and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to address this issue over a four-year period. Central to this project will be the addition of a Tribal Liaison, an additional family advocate and therapist, and the coordination of a variety of trainings.
The Tribal Liaison to Childhaven’s CAC staff will network with tribal partners and devote time to training them in both the CAC/MDT model. The Tribal Liaison will also assure that tribal insights, such as those pertaining to specific cases or cultural customs, are factored into the work/operation of the entire MDT. This will in turn streamline investigations in our region. The Tribal Liaison will also coordinate meetings, with support from Childhaven’s CEO and CAC Program Director, to discuss needed revisions/additions to the MDT written Protocol. As the needs of each tribe are different, the Tribal Liaison will advocate for tribes to be involved in the MDT process in a way that feels comfortable and sustainable to them.
The new Family Advocate will work with tribal child victims and their supportive family members to identify and track any needs or referrals for services in NCATrak, including medical examinations and mental health evaluations. They will also assure that tribal victims and their families receive follow-up services. Most traditional families prefer to address child abuse, when reported and brought to a CAC for investigation, with traditional tribal healing ceremonies. These ceremonies can occur alongside modern, trauma-informed mental health therapies. Finally, the Family Advocate will also support the CAC Program Director and Tribal Liaison in tracking these tribal cases and assuring they are part of ongoing Case Review.
Toward the end of the grant period, the Tribal Liaison, CEO, CAC Program Director and CFO will assist interested tribal partners in moving towards establishing their own NCA Affiliate or Associate Member tribal site/CAC by researching funding opportunities and accessing community resources. Childhaven will act as a mentor to tribes who indicate interest. Otherwise, Childhaven will continue to assure sufficient funding and capacity to continue to provide CAC services to these tribal regions through our CAC/MDT written agreements.
Childhaven will also partner with the National Native Children’s Trauma Center (NNCTC) to coordinate trainings that will support Childhaven’s ability to address the lack of tribal participation on our MDTs. NNCTC offers trainings on Children’s Advocacy Center, Trauma and Resiliency in Tribal Communities, and Trauma, Domestic Violence, and Trauma-Informed Practice Strategies in Tribal Communities, Impacts of Historical Trauma and building trauma-informed Systems of Care, and Secondary Traumatic Stress and Self Care to offer our MDT members. NNCTC will also provide technical assistance and consultation to CACs to assess the needs and capacity of tribal partners to provide trauma and culturally informed care, and cultural humility training for other members of the MDT. Trainings will also include education for community members to address perceptions of abuse and raise awareness of the need for child abuse reporting to break multi-generational cycles of abuse.