Contemporary Issues in Child Welfare: American Indian and Canadian Aboriginal Contexts

Edited By: J. Dena Ned, PhD & Caren J. Frost, PhD


Contemporary Issues in Child Welfare: American Indian and Canadian Aboriginal Contexts examines the spectrum of child welfare policies including: foster care, child protection, adoption, and services to keep families together. Supporting data impacting Native children and their families in the U.S. and Canada are highlighted in each chapter. The numbers of Native children in care are shocking and show a clear disproportionality for non-white children in governmental or state care. Several chapters deal with the long-term effects of the placement of Native children into boarding or residential schools and the resulting historical trauma.

Contemporary Issues in Child Welfare not only looks back at the Sixties Scoop, but also argues that the current disproportionality of Native children in state and non-Native family care must be viewed as the Millennium Scoop. While the blatant practice of removing Native children from their families in order to place them within institutional care has been reduced, Native children are now more often being placed in adoptive and/or foster care. In far too many cases, courts have refused to transfer custody away from non-Native homes because system’s workers believe that “the child has bonded” with the foster family and it is thus in “the child’s best interest” to remain with their current non-Native family. The authors raise interesting questions – “How does bonding compare to cultural background or heritage in a child’s development?” “Who is in the best position to make the decision about what is an appropriate “family” for Native children?” Considering the answers to these questions is a main thread of this important text, which will raise awareness about the issues Native families and communities continue to face in the 21st Century.

  • ISBN: 978-1-926476-15-5
    Price: $34.00
    Binding: Paperback
    Date: 2017
    Rights: World
    Pages: 215
    Size: 6″ x 9″

  • Table of Contents

    Dedication and Acknowledgements
    Table of Contents

    By: Norma J. Harris & Don Schmid

    By: Brenda Bussey, Priscilla A. Day, J. Dena Ned, & Susan E. Smalling

    By: Carenlee Barkdull, Melanie Sage, & Martin Wright

    By: Kathy Absolon & Carrie Tabobondung
    United States
    By: Terry L. Cross

    By: Vandna Singh
    United States
    By: Vernon Carter

    By: Vandna Sinha & Nico Trocmé
    United States
    By: Alice Kay Locklear

    By: Billie Allan & Ellen Blais
    United States
    By: Daniel Dickerson &Carrie L. Johnson

    By: Raven Sinclair
    United States
    By: Annalise John, J. Dena Ned, & Heather Tanana

    By: Leona Makokis, Ralph Bodor, Stephanie Tyler, Sarah Perrett, & Heather Gough

    Child Welfare in Canada
    U.S. Timeline


  • J. Dena Ned, PhD & Caren J. Frost, PhD

    J. Dena Ned, PhD, MSW is an Associate Professor/Lecturer at the University of Utah. An experiential learner, Dena earned her Master of Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Utah. Opportunities afforded her as a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma motivates Dena to support American Indian and Indigenous social work students to further their education, so they may improve access, support and delivery of services for American Indian children and families in their communities.

    Caren J. Frost, PhD, MPH is a research professor within the College of Social Work at the University of Utah. She works with refugee women’s groups providing workshops pertaining to women’s health to various communities with refugee backgrounds. She teaches courses on women’s health, and chairs the health and global concentrations for the MSW program.

  • This manuscript is an important contribution to contemporary Indigenous child welfare literature in Canada and the United States and long overdue. We have so much to learn from each other in terms of legislation, policy and best practices that safe-guard the inherent rights of our children, while capturing the unique aspects of each jurisdiction. Conferences and gatherings are helpful not but not everyone who is a stakeholder in Indigenous child welfare has the privilege or resources to attend such events. Each chapter addresses some vital information to guide existing child welfare practice in a variety of settings and deliberations with authors who are well versed on these matters. Discussion questions are included with every chapter which will increase the utility of this manuscript in academic settings. Policy makers and practitioners often seek new information across each other’s geographic boarders for new approaches in child welfare as it pertains to Native American or Canadian Indigenous children. Now we have a resource to help us achieve that goal.

    Jeannine Carrière, PhD

    Métis Scholar
    Professor of Social Work
    University of Victoria

    Contemporary Issues in Child Welfare: American Indian and Canadian Aboriginal Contexts is the confluence of multiple scholars and poignant themes, which are tied to Indigenous Peoples legislative policies that exist within the confines of the United States and Canada. With Dena Ned and Caren Frost at the helm as editors, they guide the reader through a variety of sub-topics which include: foster care, child protection, adoption services, historical trauma tied to the American Indian boarding schools, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, and the power of stories and ceremony to heal Native Peoples. Moving seamlessly between the United States and Canada, the authors provide statistical information from 1500 in the same space as 2016. As the chapters systematically unfold, the central overarching theme is the legacy of European contact, which First Peoples on “either side of the border” are still “unpacking” as they continue to search for spiritual and legislative metamorphosis in the face of ongoing change.

    Cynthia Landrum, PhD

    Affiliated Faculty
    Indigenous Nation Studies
    Portland State University

    This publication is a compilation of rich expertise in areas of Indigenous child welfare. The authors speak back to past practices that have left children and families disconnected and in life-long emotional pain. Contemporary Issues in Child Welfare offers ideas, creativity, suggestions about the caring and placement of Indigenous children in situations that will further the child’s development in areas of connection, support and in their sense of self-worth. We have said that each child is a gift but Indigenous children have not been treated as such. The passion, intelligence and structural analysis offered herein provide stepping-stones for policy makers to follow to a path of appropriate care and social justice for Indigenous children and families. Kudos to this important and timely contribution to the literature.

    Catherine Richardson, PhD

    Métis Scholar
    Associate Professor
    School of Social Work
    University of Montreal

    This edited book draws on the expertise, strengths, and perspectives of multiple authors to provide insight into the complex, ever changing landscape of Indigenous child welfare in Canada and the United States. While commonalities exist in how Canada and the US interact with Indigenous Peoples and families, there are also differential child welfare policy responses. This volume clarifies what we know about Indigenous Peoples and child welfare, both historically and in contemporary times. The book is up-to-date on recent policies, legal changes, and court interpretations. Notably, the authors present context-specific data illustrating how child welfare can vary substantially by region, as well as by nation. The book describes how policies contextualize child welfare programs such as Child Protective Services, foster care, and in-home services. Readers are provided a glimpse into many facets of child welfare ranging from culturally-specific interventions to federal responses.

    Hilary Weaver, DSW

    Professor & Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
    School of Social Work
    State University of New York, Buffalo