Preparing MSW Students for Work in Indigenous Child Welfare: How the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Department of Social Work is Seeking to Meet this Challenge

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How can Social Work programs best prepare MSW students for work with indigenous families who are involved in governmental and tribal child welfare? The history of social workers and indigenous people is full of racism, misuse of power, fear, misunderstanding, historical trauma, and denial. Acknowledging this painful history and taking responsibility is just a part of preparing current MSW students, from all races and cultures, to work with indigenous people in child welfare. To best prepare students who will be working with indigenous children, families and communities, social work educators must listen and act on the insights and information they gain from key informants within indigenous communities. Then existing gaps in social work programs must be assessed in order to create the environment, expectations and curriculum that will best assist student development. This presentation will reflect upon social work education and practice that indigenous child welfare workers have identified as being critical to the development of culturally competent social workers working with native children and families. It will examine how one university social work department is working to develop their program through relationships with tribal elders, leaders, practitioners and indigenous communities.


Keywords: Colonization, Racism, Higher Education, Social Work, Child Welfare, Indigenous Communities
Stream: First Nations, Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Johanna Garrison

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work
Duluth, Minnesota, USA

Dr.Johanna Garrison is an Assistant Professor for the University of Minnesota Duluth's Department of Social Work and Outreach and Curriculum Development Coordinator for the University's Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies.

Ref: D08P0187