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SPIRIT - Supporting Protection, Integration, and Resources in Tribes

NCJ Number
Po Chen; Holly Scheib
Date Published
November 2018
8 pages
This report profiles a researcher-practitioner project based in the partnership of a local community child welfare practitioner, a participatory scientist, and leadership within a local Native community in an effort to understand the factors that contribute to child victimization in Native-American tribes, identify the most effective mitigation and intervention activities, and clarify how to cooperatively implement and manage these services with tribal partners.
The project is named Supporting Protection, Integration, and Resources in Tribes (SPIRIT). It involves a partnership between Youth Heartline, a Taos, New Mexico-based child advocacy and victim services nonprofit program, and Sage Consulting, a firm that specializes in participatory methods, action research, and evaluation with vulnerable populations. SPIRIT reflects the mutual interests of the partners in addressing research and practice gaps in the areas of child abuse and neglect in the context of Native-American tribes. SPIRIT aims to be a leader in cooperative interventions that can be applied in communities around the country. The disconnect between potential partners, both in information and trust, coupled with the scope of Native Tribe's unmet needs, motivated SPIRIT to pursue its community-based approach to addressing child abuse and neglect. It uses participatory methods that invest in trusting relationships, honoring the knowledge of community members through capacity-building, and creating community-generated knowledge and solutions. This community-engagement process began in 2014 with trust-building between Youth Heartline and Taos Pueblo. This led to a 2015 community event called Healing of Hearts, which focused on historical grief, intergenerational trauma, and their lasting impacts. SPIRIT continued with the establishment of a family navigator program jointly administered by Youth Heartline and Taos Pueblo to assist in family services. Results regarding engagement, the participatory process, and capacity building are reported to exceed expectations.