CSU - Pueblo faculty member to study child abuse services for Native American children

CSU - Pueblo faculty member to study child abuse services for Native American children

PUEBLO – A Colorado State University-Pueblo Social Work faculty member will play a major role in a $1.3 million grant funded by the Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) – Children’s Bureau. The federally sponsored project  will implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center’s (DIFRC) integrated and trauma-informed service delivery model for urban Indian Child Welfare. 

Dr. Nancy Lucero, assistant professor social work, served as the primary author of the proposal and will serve as the evaluator for the sponsored project. 

The DIFRC grant is a three-year award (2013-2016) with a total budget near $1.3 million.  CSU-Pueblo will receive three subsequent annual subawards totaling approximately $226,365 for Dr. Lucero’s evaluation responsibilities.  The funding will support time and effort for Dr. Lucero, student research assistants, consulting, and some supplies. 

The proposed project will implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the DIFRC’s integrated and trauma-informed service delivery model for urban Indian Child Welfare, and two evidence-based practices within the model—cultural adaptations of Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and the Nurturing Parenting Program. The target population for the project will be urban-based American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) families residing in the seven-county Denver Metropolitan area where at least one young child has been exposed to parental/caregiver substance abuse, including infants with in utero exposure.

According to Lucero, this target population experiences a host of economic and psychosocial challenges— poverty, mental health issues, trauma exposure, cultural differences in help-seeking and lack of cultural responsiveness in the community-based service delivery system—that interact with substance abuse to tax parents/caregivers’ capacity to provide for the social, emotional, physical, and safety needs of infants and children. As a result, these children have an increased risk for child welfare involvement and out-of-home placement.

DIFRC’s service delivery model will address these challenges with intensive case management, parenting skills development, and substance abuse, trauma, and mental health treatment for children and adult family members. The project also will focus on strengthening and expanding an existing collaborative consortium of community-based agencies from which AI/AN children and families may receive services as well as increasing the cultural responsiveness of these agencies and their service providers.

It is expected that AI/AN children and families who participate in the project will benefit by having available services to support healing from substance abuse and trauma exposure, treatment for mental health challenges, and assistance with material and psychosocial needs.

Services offered through the project are fourfold:
1.Increase parenting capacity and decrease parental substance use.
2.Treat child and adult trauma exposure, thereby mitigating the negative effects of trauma symptomatology on social, emotional, and educational functioning, increasing parenting capacity, and improving child and family functioning;
3.Treat child and adult mental health issues, thereby improving child and family social and emotional well-being; and
4.Address family stressors and resource challenges that have been found to lead to AI/AN CPS involvement and child removals, thereby increasing child safety and permanency.

Lucero’s evaluation will assess the project’s achievement of outcomes that align with the Children’s Bureau’s overarching goals of increasing safety, permanency, and social and emotional well-being of children.

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