Building Recognition and Relationships to Help Native Youth Thrive

Updated March 28, 2023 | Posted February 21, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A Native American youth wears a backpack and smiles at the camera; he's in a library

On ­Thurs­day, March 16, 2023, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion host­ed​Heal­ing Native Amer­i­can Youth Through Jus­tice Reform. The webi­nar is aimed at help­ing prac­ti­tion­ers achieve bet­ter out­comes for Native Amer­i­can youth who are involved in the jus­tice system.

Pan­elists included:

Webi­nar on Native Youth Highlights

Dur­ing the one-hour event, v­iew­ers learned about the cir­cum­stances — past and present — affect­ing Native youth, their treat­ment in the jus­tice sys­tem and their over­all well-being. The ses­sion also high­light­ed one Native nation’s diver­sion pro­gram and its part­ner­ships with state and local jurisdictions.

The webi­nar is based on a pub­li­ca­tion of the same name. Authored by the Asso­ci­a­tion on Amer­i­can Indi­an Affairs, it offers three key takeaways:

  1. Native youth are at greater risk of enter­ing the jus­tice system. 
  2. Native youth involved in the jus­tice sys­tem need sup­port, treat­ment and reha­bil­i­ta­tion in response to the his­tor­i­cal, inter­gen­er­a­tional and con­tem­po­rary trau­ma they have experienced.
  3. Youth jus­tice agen­cies should iden­ti­fy Native youth and col­lab­o­rate with Native nations and across juris­dic­tions to obtain those ser­vices and help youth thrive. 

Sur­vey Results Sug­gest Room for Improvement

In 2018, the Asso­ci­a­tion on Amer­i­can Indi­an Affairs pub­lished sur­vey results indi­cat­ing that JDAI® sites had room to improve when inter­act­ing with Native youth and nations. The sites report­ed hav­ing no reli­able process­es for iden­ti­fy­ing Native youth and no his­to­ry of work­ing with Native nations to sup­port cul­tur­al­ly appro­pri­ate pro­gram­ming. The sites also report­ed over­look­ing Native fam­i­lies and trib­al gov­ern­ments as sources for learn­ing about and con­firm­ing a young person’s Native citizenship. 

Inter­est­ed in Learn­ing More or Pur­su­ing Training?

Is your juris­dic­tion inter­est­ed in receiv­ing train­ing and learn­ing more about build­ing rela­tion­ships with Native nations and help­ing Native youth thrive? If so, con­firm your inter­est — either before or after the webi­nar — with the Asso­ci­a­tion on Amer­i­can Indi­an Affairs. The Asso­ci­a­tion, in part­ner­ship with the Casey Foun­da­tion, will then deter­mine how to best meet this demand.

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