A Place to Live, A Place to Heal

Authors: Ane Berrett

Disciplines: Native American Studies, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology

Themes: Family and Youth, Federal and State Relations and Policy, Law and Justice, Self Determination and Self Governance

This case examines out of home placement for Native American Children. It tells the story of a Native American girl and her extended family who are caught in family dynamics resulting from intergenerational trauma. In their attempts to resolve this situation they access the “systems of care” approach and the Indian Child Welfare Act to provide stable after care placement. “Systems of care,” sometimes referred to as “wrap around services,” is a philosophy promoted by the US Department of Health to provide individualized, community based and integrative service. The Indian Child Welfare Act is a federal law that Congress passed in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. This case explores how these mental health systems and the Indian Child Welfare Act are challenged and applied in the best interest of a young Native American girl.