National Child Welfare Association

Collaboration Principles

Collaboration is a strategy that enhances our strength and expands our sphere of influence. However, it is a lot of work and presents some dangers to our integrity as an organization. Therefore we have developed a set of principles to guide our strategic alliances, partnerships and collaborations. Following is a list of those principles.

  1. NICWA adheres to a “win-win” or “no deal” philosophy and is a full partner in any collaborative venture.
  2. NICWA does not participate in collaborations that diminish or discount tribal sovereignty and will advise collaborators when NICWA feels that requested or suggested activities or strategies might do so.
  3. NICWA formulates, articulates, communicates and acts upon its own positions on various issues effecting American Indian children and families, tribal-state relations, sovereignty and federal Indian policy and clearly defines those positions as NICWA positions and not those of partners or collaborators. (The positions of collaborators are their own and should be stated as such in communication regarding collaboration.)
  4. NICWA staff and consultants work for and take direction from NICWA management. When collaborators brainstorm, give feedback, or express perspectives with NICWA staff such comments are considered advice and consultation and not direction and are to be discussed with NICWA management.
  5. NICWA relies first and foremost on written, contractual obligations, (i.e. contract deliverables) for direction and acts on the basis of its own best judgment as to how to best meet those deliverables.
  6. NICWA requires that budget changes, changes in scope of work or collaboration strategies be negotiated and reduce to writing.
  7. NICWA responds effectively and positively to requests from collaborators that respect our internal process, time and staff workload. NICWA works to accommodate the needs of partners in its requests and responses to requests and will actively negotiate timelines.
  8. NICWA expects that public communications by and about collaborators be respectful and positive and that collaboration issues and concerns are expressed and resolved privately between NICWA and it’s partners.
  9. NICWA recognizes that its role in collaboration includes facilitating growth in our partners to strengthen their services to Indian children and families as well as the enhancement of NICWA’s own mission and capacities.
  10. NICWA recognizes collaboration as an essential element to effectively achieving our mission but also recognizes that this approach demands hard work, a commitment to effective communication, forgiveness for the inevitable mistakes or omissions and withholding judgment or interpretation of actions in absence of complete information, (i.e. giving partners the benefit of the doubt and expecting the same.)