American Indian Alaska Native Themes
Links to the content for Classroom-Based Training themes are in alphabetical order. Selection and order of themes should be based the guidance provided in the Implementation Manual as well as on local needs.
This theme helps participants understand the importance of attachment in parenting both for the children and parents who are fostering or adopting. It covers the impact of fractured attachments/lack of attachments on children’s ability to attach and identifies strategies to develop healthy attachment bonds. This theme also covers developing trust and developing children’s sense of connectedness and belonging. How to be attuned to children and recognizing and honoring children’s primary attachment to their families is also highlighted.
This theme helps participants understand typical child development as well as disrupted child development. Developmental delays and how to meet children’s developmental needs is also covered in this theme. The unique challenges associated with parenting children from each developmental stage are highlighted.
Creating a Stable, Nurturing and Safe Home Environment
This theme helps participants become aware of strategies to make children impacted by trauma and loss feel psychologically and physically safe and covers how to set up a home to be safe for all household members. This theme also covers how the sense of safety ties to behaviors, how to set boundaries, and how to show consistency and predictability using routines and rituals. How to be attuned to children and understand safety from a child’s perspective is also highlighted.
This theme provides participants with an overview of cultural humility and helps participants recognize the importance of honoring children’s cultural identity and respecting families from varying races, religions, ethnicities, and economic statuses. Openness to a child’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression and viewing these differences from a strengths-based perspective is highlighted. This theme shares strategies for parents who are fostering or adopting to respect as well as navigate differences in values from the children and families, while acknowledging imbalances of power and inequities.
This theme helps participants understand effective communication including both verbal and non-verbal language and describes how to use open communication with children. The importance of active listening skills and strategies to convey compassion and attunement are highlighted. This theme will also help participants recognize how to talk to children about difficult and/or sensitive issues with openness.
Foster Care: A Means to Support Families
This theme helps participants understand the child welfare experience from the perspective of the child’s parents and supports finding compassion for parents and the challenges they may be facing. Strategies to nurture children’s relationships with their parents and to integrate and maintain on-going communication and connection between parents and children are covered. This theme describes the potential challenges in partnering with the child’s parents and for helping children prepare for visits, including understanding and managing reactions to visits.
Impact of Substance Use
This theme helps participants understand the short and long-term impact on children exposed to substances prenatally including FASD. Also covered are issues that may be present if parents use(d) substances and medical issues that can arise due to substance exposure including higher risk of later addiction. The genetic component of addiction and addiction as a chronic disease is described. This theme also shares parenting strategies for children exposed to substances prenatally.
Introduction and Welcome
This theme provides an overview of the components of the NTDC curriculum, introduces the idea of “Expanding Your Parenting Paradigm” and sets the stage for participants to feel welcome and engage their interest.
Maintaining Children’s Connections
This theme helps participants understand the importance of integrating and maintaining on-going communication and connection between siblings, including understanding sibling dynamics and the importance of sibling bonds. Tips for how to navigate and support visits with siblings are shared. This theme also helps participants recognize the importance of maintaining connections with extended family members and the community at large (i.e., schools, church, friends, sporting teams) and identifies strategies to keep children connected to their community. The role of parents who are fostering in maintaining these connections is highlighted.
Mental Health Considerations
This theme provides a basic understanding of mental health disorders and conditions that commonly occur in childhood. Content is shared to illustrate that not all ‘survival’ behaviors or symptoms of grief are connected with mental health disorders. Commonly administered psychotropic medications are described and information about how to obtain consistent, adequate and appropriate access to mental health services is highlighted.
Parenting a Child with a History of Sexual Trauma
This theme identifies the indicators of sexual abuse and the impact of interrupted sexual development, highlighting the unique challenges associated with parenting children who have been sexually abused. The potential risk factors for children who have experienced sexual trauma including re-victimization, sexual trafficking, and re-enactment behaviors are covered. Effective parenting strategies that can help keep children safe and help them heal from sexual trauma are highlighted.
Parenting in Racially and Culturally Diverse Families
This theme helps participants understand the impact of parenting children from different racial/ethnic/cultural backgrounds and to know how to honor and incorporate child’s race/ethnicity/culture into their existing family system. Strategies are identified to help children develop positive and proud identities and to help children and families prepare for and handle racism in all forms.
Preparing for and Managing Intrusive Questions
This theme helps prepare family and friends for a child to join the family, including how to honor the child’s privacy and how to use strengths-based language to introduce the child into the community. Strategies to manage intrusive questions and support children in responding to questions while preserving their privacy are covered.
Reunification as the Primary Permanency Goal
This theme helps participants understand the permanency options that exist and the role of parents who are fostering in permanency planning—especially with reunification. Permanency from the child’s perspective is explored. This theme helps participants understand their role in caring for children while at the same time preparing them to return home and the role of parents who are fostering in working with the child’s family to achieve reunification. Concurrent planning is described.
Separation, Grief and Loss
This theme helps participants understand the impact of separation and ambiguous loss, and the different ways children grieve. Life-long grieving and the importance of providing opportunities for grieving is explored. Strategies to help children deal with grief and loss are identified. Participants will understand loss and fractured attachments with birth family members and previous placements; recognize the importance of establishing and maintaining essential relationships with and for children; understand the impact of frequent moves and the importance of managing transitions for children; and understand the separation, grief and loss experienced by all members of the foster/adoption network.
Trauma Informed Parenting
This theme helps participants learn the three Rs (Regulate, Relate, Reason) and other practical Trauma-informed Parenting strategies. Trauma support resources for children are described. Participants will recognize the importance of finding activities to have fun with children; recognize the importance of connected parenting and the relationship as the foundational cornerstone; understand how to promote healthy behaviors; and recognize the importance of parent’s self-regulation. Also highlighted are ways to be proactive versus reactive and the difference between discipline and punishment.
Trauma Related Behavior
This theme helps participants learn how chaos, threat, neglect, and other adversity during development can alter the developing brain and that, in turn, can change the ways children think, feel and act. Participants will understand the major stress-responses we use to cope with perceived and actual threat and the reasons for and range of adaptive symptoms from inattention and distractibility to avoidance and shut-down. Also covered are the reasons for rejection and testing and recognition of the survival skills and coping strategies that result in a complex range of behaviors.
Recognizing that kinship families may experience additional challenges, two additional themes were created that specifically address the unique aspects of being a kinship caregiver. Kinship themes are intended for use with General Child Welfare themes as described in the Implementation Manual.
Building Parental Resilience for Kinship Caregivers
This theme helps participants understand the importance of self-care and practical ideas for how to do it. Participants will understand signs of stress and burnout and recognize the importance of maintaining their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. This theme describes parental resilience, why resilience is important, and covers how caring for children who have experienced trauma, separation, or loss can impact a caregiver’s own well-being. This theme also covers the behaviors that foster a protective environment for parents and children.
This theme acknowledges the complexities associated with caring for children who are related including: divided loyalties, redefining roles and relationships, setting boundaries with parents and other relatives, and the range of emotions including anger, resentment, guilt and/or embarrassment that caregivers can feel. Strategies for how to manage family dynamics and conflicts, identify triggers and effectively manage stress are shared.
Participant Resource Manual
The Participant Resource Manual was developed based on the principles of adult learning theory, providing a structure for participants to engage in critical self-reflection as they complete Online and Classroom-Based themes. The Participant Resource Manual contains all of the handouts that will be needed in the classroom environment and contains a summary of additional resources for each theme that participants can access on their own to support self-directed learning beyond the classroom.
Sites will need to determine how to provide the Participant Resource Manual to families. Options include to provide manuals in hard copy or in an electronic format. In addition, sites may find that they want to provide the manual content by theme rather than in one document.
Click here for a link that can be shared with participants for downloading a copy of the Participant Resource Manual in its entirety.
* Here you will be able to download individual sections of the Participant Resource Manual to create a custom version that includes only the themes that you are using.