National Child Welfare Association

Principles and Philosophy

Technical Assistance Principles

Family Focused

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) honors each community's definition of family and the importance of extended family in tribal communities.

Culturally Competent

  • Awareness and acceptance of difference
  • Awareness of one's own culture
  • Understanding of the "dynamics of difference"
  • Development of cultural knowledge
  • Ability to adapt practice to fit the cultural context of the client/community

Community Based

Each community has it's own internal experts and resources which are local and unique - these resources are acknowledged and supported by NICWA.


NICWA believes assistance should come with as few barriers as possible, and seeks to help communities in maximizing access to services to their children and families.


The community development specialist assigned to a project works to ensure services are tailored to the needs of the individual child or family. Each community technical assistance plan is also individualized to fit their unique strengths and needs.

Least Restrictive

NICWA assists tribes in the development of appropriate mental health and child welfare services in the child's home community.


NICWA assists tribes in the development of services and programs that serve the needs of their community and promotes responsible practices.

Community Collaboration

Families partner with agencies and organizations to work together with a common vision, direction and purpose. Communities combine their resources through interagency working relationships and agreements. NICWA itself partners with many other agencies to provide technical assistance.


NICWA promotes and honors the wholeness of children and families, their communities and their unique culture, traditions, and beliefs.

Technical Assistance Philosophy

We apply a culturally-competent, strengths-based social work model to our work that:

  1. Reflects NICWA's TA principles
  2. Applies the relational worldview model
  3. Enhances local natural helping systems
  4. Honors diversity among Indian people
  5. Respects each community's unique culture and strengths
  6. Builds an ongoing relationship with communities