Connection, Culture, Collaboration



Happy August! It is exciting to say there is a lot of great work being done at Tribal STAR. Last month, in addition to providing an ICWA Lineworker Core training and our new curriculum, Let the Spirit Lead: ICWA for Supervisors, Tribal STAR and the 7th Generation Workgroup had their first meeting of the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The collaborative workgroup was co-hosted by the County of San Diego in a very welcoming and charming atmosphere at the Live Well Center in Escondido. This meeting ended in applause in recognition of the great connections made and the empowering work that is being done to benefit children and families.  We also got a chance to meet with our Community Leadership Team who brings well over 30 years experience in Indian Child welfare and shares their guiding wisdom and knowledge. For that, we are always grateful.  

At the end of this month, I will be celebrating 3 years at the Academy for Professional Excellence with the Tribal STAR team. What an amazing experience it has been. The work is very rewarding for the opportunity to change hearts, minds, and practice for better outcomes for the Native American Community.  My start with Tribal STAR came shortly after I attended a Tribal STAR ICWA: Let the Spirit Lead training in 2016.  Just as it is today, the training was very informative, impactful, and a great cultural immersion class designed to touch the heart and make a difference in social work practice to improve compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. I am thankful for the people I have met along this journey for change for our people, and I look forward to many more years in this empowering field.

There are many partners and organizations that collaborate with Tribal STAR and each other to provide excellent service to Native American youth and families. In addition to providing flyers, links, and resources within Drumbeats, we are going to use this platform to highlight a different program each month in order to provide a more in-depth look at what the community has to offer. To start off, this month’s highlight is all about Ileihno Bopachemin, (Caring for Children), a Native non-profit that provides culturally relevant services for American Indian/Alaska Native foster youth. Please take the time to see what they are all about.

Let’s take this moment to give a shout out LaPrincess Greene, Tribal STAR’s Administrative Support, as the new Editor of Tribal STAR’s Drumbeats Newsletter. LaPrincess is responsible for bringing you the latest content and resources in an easy to read, attractive format.  Thank you for your dedicated work!  


To make a submission to this newsletter, contact  LaPrincess Greene at  


Eyay ahun,


Sunni Dominguez

Assistant Program Coordinator


Tribal STAR Highlights:

Ileihno Bopachemihn, Inc.


Ileihno Bopachemihn, Inc. is a non-profit agency that was recently awarded a federal grant to develop services for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) foster children in Sacramento and in San Diego. This project has resulted in establishment of a Foster Family Agency (FFA), Tribal Oak Tree (TOT), that will serve American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) male and female youth ages 0-17 and non-minor dependents up to age 18 to complete high school or GED programs. TOT has secured an Emergency Resource home in both San Diego and Sacramento to address immediate placement needs of AI/AN children who are removed from their families while the Tribe, county or TOT locate an approved AI/AN family for placement of youth after the initial removal. Our goal is to keep AI/AN youth is AI/AN homes in order to ensure a cultural connection is maintained and support services are in place for children and families. Our mission is to strengthen the future advancement of Native American individuals while supporting families and Tribal communities by providing social services and programs to meet the growing needs of Native American communities.  


TOT is currently in the process of recruiting AI/AN families who are interested in becoming Resource Families. Our agency will recruit, train, and approve qualified Resource Families to assist tribes and help counties comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act.  As Resource Parents, they will be approved for kinship, foster care, guardianship and/or adoption for AI/AN children. TOT will assist families in completing background clearances, trainings, CPR/First Aid certification, and will provide ongoing support throughout the duration of placement. A TOT social worker will help families with every step of the approval process and will provide ongoing support for families. If interested in becoming a potential resource family, please contact Jessica Roach, ASW at the San Diego office at 916-407-6166 or Kymberly Ketchum, MSW at the Sacramento office at 916-407-9349. 


TOT needs donations in order to maintain sustainability beyond grant funding. All donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes. The items most needed at this time are: 1. Cash donations, 2. Gift cards, 3. Hygiene products, 4. Clothing for youth of all ages, 5. Home furnishings, and 6. Books, games, other activities for children. For more information about donations or to schedule a possible donation pick up/drop off please contact Allison Linton at 619-701-5466 for San Diego and Alisia Johnson at 916-600-7685 for Sacramento.  


TOT is in the final stages of approval and start-up. We are hoping to be open for placements in the next couple of months. In the meantime, we need families who are interested in becoming Resource Parents, donations, and most importantly, networking. Please help us get the word out in the community about our upcoming resource to serve Tribal communities and families. For more information please contact Tatiana Moore, LMFT for the San Diego office at 619-701-2546 or Mary Curtis, Executive Director for Sacramento at 916-296-4522.  

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Nominations for Tribal STAR Celebration 2019

Tribal STAR is preparing for this year’s Celebration event.  Each year we honor families, child welfare professionals, service providers and other collaborative partners for their role in supporting the best outcomes for Native American children and families.  Do you know someone who should be recognized for caring for Native children; collaboration to support best outcomes for Native families, best practices for ICWA compliance or any other contribution to the best interests of Native children? 
If so, please send and email to with the name of the person you are nominating and what you are nominating them for. Please tell us in as much detail as possible why you think they should be honored this year.  
Cultural Responsiveness Academy delivered it's first Native American series training

The Cultural Responsiveness Academy (CRA) successfully completed its 3rd year in San Diego and celebrated 41 graduates and 17 projects. This was our first year of the Native American series in San Diego County and the participants had learning opportunities in both the classroom and on the Reservations. Sycuan, Santa Ysabel, Rincon, and Barona Reservations hosted the participants where they had an opportunity to learn about the culture, services and resources available on the Reservations. The experience was beneficial for many who had never been on a Reservation and it also encouraged building relationships with community members, as a way of growing collaborative efforts. The underlying theme of the series was “Just be Human” which was a request from community stakeholders on how CWS Staff can strengthen collaboration between them and the community. The Facilitators provided the participants with an opportunity to grow in this area and several of their projects focused on bringing the humanness back into their work. 

Four projects were highlighted at the July 7th Generation Meeting:

  1. Child Abuse Hotline ICWA protocol: Expand screener questions to include more information under Cultural Components. Referrals sent to region, include the name and number of the corresponding Tribal Social Worker for the family. Liaison at the hotline for workers to obtain contact information for Tribal Social Workers if the Tribe was not initially known upon creating the initial referral

  2.  Intensive Family Preservation Program (IFPP) worker for the Indian Specialty Unit (ISU). Having an IFPP worker throughout the county for Native American families would allow for a more efficient and culturally responsive delivery system and better collaboration with tribal members and partners.

  3. Tailoring CWS Mental Health Services to meet the needs of the Native American population. Reducing barriers to mental health services. Using video conferencing to provide therapy to remote families. 

  4. How Trauma Impacts Children and Families: Train our resource families on the effects of trauma to provide a basis for understanding the behaviors or non-behaviors that a child may be exhibiting, in addition to how to respond to said behaviors in an effort to provide support to children and families. 

    Wanjiru Golly 
    CRA Program Coordinator

Around a quarter of all Native Americans live in what are considered hard-to-count census tracts: issues like poverty, education level, housing insecurity, and a low-median age all come together to increase their risk of undercounting.

Fort Mojave Indian Tribe elementary school on track to open in August

Fort Mojave Indian Tribal community is opening a culture centered elementary school in the efforts of preserving cultural practices and language enrichment. 
Healing Communities and Children of Domestic Violence
Michigan community is making efforts to provide training on to heal Native American families from the trauma, through the implementation of training to the community that will include ICWA training. 

The trainings provide up-to-date, research-based information in a variety of areas for those that work with Tribal foster youth and their communities. Click for full schedule.

August 1, 2019- San Diego
ICWA: Working with Native American Families and Tribes
Academy For Professional Excellence
6367 Alvarado Ct., RM. 105
San Diego, CA 92120
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

August 8, 2019- Orange County
ICWA: Working with Native American Families and Tribes
Orange County TCD, RM AB107
1928 South Grand Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

August 22, 2019- San Bernardino
ICWA: Working with Native American Families and Tribes
CWDS Riversdie Training Center
3600 Lime St., Suite. 416
San Diego, CA 92501
8:30 am - 5:00 pm

August 29, 2019- San Diego
ICWA: Working with Native American Families and Tribes
Academy for Professional Excellence
6367 Alvarado Ct. Rm. 105
San Diego, CA 92120
8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Indian Health Council is hosting Grandparents Day! Bringing families together to spend quality time with the elders in the community and create joyful memories for the families. 

Here are some resource links you can use in your practice:

In the circle, we are all equal.
There is no one in front of you and there’s nobody behind you.
No one is above you, no one is below you.
The circle is sacred because it’s designed to create unity.
– Lakota wisdom


General information, pertinent articles and resources related to Native American Foster Youth can be sent to us at for inclusion in the next edition of the Tribal STAR eNewsletter.  Whenever possible please make submissions 3 weeks prior to publication of the next newsletter.  The next issue will be published the first week of the month. All submissions will be reviewed and are published at the sole discretion of the Tribal STAR editorial staff.

For current news, thoughts and events follow us at #TribalSTARNews

If you are interested in employment opportunities at the Academy, click the button below and enter Academy for Professional Excellence into the search field.

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Tribal STAR is a program of Academy for Professional Excellence, a project of
San Diego State University School of Social Work.


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SDSU Academy for Professional Excellence Attn: Tribal STAR · 6505 Alvarado Rd. Suite 107 · San Diego, CA 92120 · USA