Child Protection
Indian Country

A Handbook for

Indian Health Service


Bureau of Indian Affairs

See Resources:
Forming a CPT
Training Module:
CPT Overview
See Appendix: Public Law 101-630 & Public Law 101-647
Training Modules:
Early Initiatives
See Training Modules:
Child Abuse and Neglect - Definitions and Indicators
Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics in Indian Country
Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country


See Training Module:
Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting
See Resources:
Reporting Protocol or
Incident Report
See Appendix: PL 101-647
See Appendix: PL 101-630


See Website: Resources for tribal addresses
See Training Module:
Reporting Requirements
See Appendix:
Sample Flow Chart
See Training Module:
Reporting Requirements
See Training Module:
First Responders to Child Abuse and Neglect Reports


See Appendix:
Public Law 101- 630
Monograph on Confidentiality
See Training Module: Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect







See Training Module: Background Checks
See Appendix:
Public Law 101-630
See Training Module:
Minimum Standards of Character
See History of Victimization in Indian Country and The History of Victim Assistance in Indian Country
See Training Module:
Training for CPT
See Training Module:
Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
See Resources:
Forming a Child Protection Team
See Resources:
Turf Issues in Child Protection Teams
See Training Module:
MOU information
See Training Module:
Effective Meetings
See Training Module:
Team Building
See Resources:
Confidentiality Agreements
See Resources:
Forming a Child Protection Team



This project was made possible by a contract (Contract No: 242-00-0058) from the Indian Health Service, Mental Health Program, Office of Public Health, 12300 Twinbrook Parkway, Suite 605, Rockville, MD 20852 Phone: (301) 443-1539 FAX: (301) 443-7623 with Jamie Davis, PhD, Project Officer, Janice S. Arthur, Contract Specialist and Jon Perez, PhD, Director, Division of Behavioral Health. The Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs provideed guidance and input into the development of the Handbook.

Project Director: Dolores Subia BigFoot, PhD, Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Project Coordinator: Janie Braden Denton, Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

The success of this project is due to the diligence and dedication of Janie Braden Denton and her willingness to search and research all aspects of child protection. The training modules would not be possible without the contribution of the faculty from the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect and Project Making Medicine.

Instructions for Using the Handbook and CD

The Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs (IHS/BIA) Child Protection Handbook is divided into four sections. The first section is an Overview of Child Protection in Indian Country, the second section is Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country, the third section is Required Character and Background Investigations for Potential Employees, and the fourth section is Child Protection Teams.

The format of the IHS/BIA Child Protection Handbook (Handbook) allows for users to have readily available a published, manageable User’s Guide with immediate access to other resources such as training modules, templates, background information, references, and other information on the CD. The amount of information available on the CD or on the website could not be logistically possible as a single published document.

This User’s Guide formatted into two columns with the right column containing the narrative and the left column containing the link for additional information. For example, the right column has a section on Definitions and Indicators on Child Abuse and Neglect while the left column has a hyperlink to the training modules containing the Power Point Presentation for Definitions and Indicators, i.e., See Training Modules: Child Abuse and Neglect – Definitions and Indicators. The hyperlinks allows the user to access information that is part of the Handbook and is stored on the CD.

Training Modules are Power Point presentations that can be used during training sessions or other community presentations. Resources can be used as a training guide and include training objectives, activities and discussion questions. Each Resource has additional links to Training Modules for Power Point presentations. Supporting/Background Information includes information that can be used alone or prior to or during a training session. Additional Reading includes articles for additional information on various issues surrounding child abuse and neglect. The Appendix includes the various laws, memorandums and other reference material that was addressed in the text of the training modules and resources. Web Resources are links that can be accessed with an internet connection.

Each hyperlink to a training module includes workshop objectives, discussion questions, and activities. Continuing with this example, in the narrative section on Reporting Requirements there is a link to the training module on Reporting Requirements which includes links to Public Laws governing reporting in Indian Country. The CD and website is formatted so that a user seeking information on P.L.101-647 could click on the link and it will allow the user to access that law plus have all the current and pertinent laws governing child protection and family violence.

The enclosed CD contains the complete Handbook (User’s Guide plus all sections) with all the information downloaded to this single CD. The website at has links to additional websites. In order to access any internet site, the user must have an internet connection.

If you have difficulties with the CD or the internet connection, please check with your local IT provider.

Overview of Child Protection in Indian Country

Child maltreatment is a community problem; no single agency, individual, or discipline has the necessary knowledge, skills, or resources to provide the assistance needed by abused and neglected children and their families. Child abuse and neglect is complex and multidimensional. No one service or intervention has been shown to prevent or treat child maltreatment effectively. Therefore, the expertise and resources of all agencies and professionals who work with children and families are needed if the community's prevention and treatment efforts are to be successful. To optimize the effectiveness of the multidisciplinary response to child maltreatment, it is important that all participants respect and preserve the distinct roles of each involved professional group while forging a functional team to address this complex problem.

Since the late 1980s and early 1990s there have been several laws passed to protect Indian children in Indian Country. This User’s Guide will outline the laws as well as provide an overview of child abuse and neglect and the tasks of developing and implementing a child protection team to further protect Indian children. Reports of child abuse and neglect have increased in Indian communities in the past 10 years. American Indian and Alaska Native children had the highest rates of victimization at 21.7 per 1,000 children of the same race or ethnicity (Children’s Bureau, DHHS, 2002). American Indian children accounted for 1.8% of all victims of child abuse and neglect in 2002.

Definitions and Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect

The major types of child maltreatment are: emotional abuse (psychological maltreatment), neglect, failure to thrive, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. There is not a consistent set of definitions for neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or psychological maltreatment that is used consistently by all local, state, tribal and federal agencies or across the multiple disciplines that deal with this problem, such as law enforcement, medical, or child welfare. Not having a consistent set of definitions becomes problematic when one jurisdiction may have criminal penalties while another jurisdiction may not have codified those actions as criminal or do not have sufficient jurisdiction. What one discipline may perceive as harmful such as emotional abuse, may not be successfully prosecuted in court since cause and effect must be established.

Definitions of child maltreatment are provided which are generally agreeable as being standard. However it must be understood that definitions will vary, therefore operational definitions include the following, but are not limited to:

Emotional Abuse/Neglect (psychological/verbal abuse/mental injury) includes acts of omissions or acts of co-mission by the parents or other caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders to a child under the age of 18. Includes the failure of a parent/caretaker to provide a child with a nurturing environment.

The two types of emotional neglect can be defined by:

Psychological Neglect - the consistent failure of a parent or caretaker to provide a child with appropriate emotional support, attention, and affection.

Psychological Abuse - a chronic pattern of negative behaviors on the part of the parent or caretaker toward the child such as belittling, humiliating, and/or ridiculing.

Emotional Abuse or Neglect should be considered when: Some Physical Indicators Some Behavioral Indicators
  • Lack of attachment between infant and parent
  • Lack of responsiveness to environment
  • Failure-to-thrive
  • Parent is highly critical and negative toward the infant/child
  • Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical development
  • Substance abuse
  • Ulcers, asthma, severe allergies
  • Distrust of adults
  • Reluctant to go home
  • Habit disorders (sucking, rocking)
  • Anti-social, destructive behaviors
  • Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, inhibition of play)
  • Passive and aggressive – behavioral extremes (especially adolescents)
  • Developmentally delayed} Often assumes parental role
  • Difficulty in forming relationships

Child Neglect is the chronic failure of a parent or caretaker to provide a child, under 18 years of age, with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, educational opportunity, protection, and supervision. The ultimate form of neglect is child abandonment.
Neglect should be considered when: Some Physical Indicators Some Behavioral Indicators
  • Significantly below height/weight for age
  • Inappropriate clothing for weather
  • Lack of safe, sanitary shelter
  • Lack of necessary medical and dental care
  • Reports no caretaker in the home
  • Untreated illness or injury
  • Poor hygiene, including lice, body odor, scaly skin
  • Child abandoned or left with inadequate supervision
  • Unattended medical needs
  • Consistent hunger, inappropriate dress
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lice, distended stomach, emaciated
  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class
  • Steals food, begs from classmates
  • Frequently absent or tardy for school
  • Self destructive/mutilating actions
  • School dropout (adolescents)
Failure to thrive (FTT) is a condition in which children show a marked retardation or cessation of growth.

Failure to thrive is…

  • A medical condition,
  • Environmental factors,
  • Combination of medical and environmental factors.

    Failure to thrive should be considered when an infant or child is not developing physically at the rate normally expected, is underweight and does not gain weight. A medical condition can cause FTT but a licensed medical professional must diagnosis the condition. Environmental factors should be considered when a parent or caretaker indicates a child is not interested in eating, and therefore is not feeding them. Infants and children will eventually become uninterested in feeding if nutrition is withheld from them for a sufficient period of time. If an infant or child is placed in a hospital with regular feeding opportunities and gains weight, but when in the care of the parent or caretaker, the weight is lost, then it is assumed that the parent or caretaker is withholding food.

Physical Abuse is characterized by the infliction of intentional, non-accidental physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, shaking or otherwise harming a child under the age of 18. The parent or caretaker may not have intended to injure the child so severely; however their use of harsh discipline, severe punishment, or unrestrained behavior on their part is responsible for the injury toward their child.
Physical Abuse should be considered when: Some Physical Indicators Some Behavioral Indicators
  • History given by parent does not match the injury
  • Child gives unbelievable explanation for the injuries
  • Child reports injury by parent
  • Child is fearful to go home or requests to stay at school, daycare, hospital
  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing)
  • Welts, human bite marks, bald spots
  • Unexplained burns, especially cigarette
  • Unexplained fractures, lacerations or abrasions
  • Self-destructive} Withdrawn and aggressive – behavioral extremes
  • Uncomfortable with physical contact
  • Arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to go home
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents)
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably} Wears clothing inappropriate to weather to cover body
Sexual Abuse occurs when a person (adolescent or adult) is using the child for their own sexual gratification and/or exploitation which includes fondling a child’s genitals (under or over clothing), intercourse, oral/vaginal/anal penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, prostitution, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production or distribution of pornographic materials involving a minor.
Sexual Abuse should be considered when: Some Physical Indicators Some Behavioral Indicators
  • Injury to genital area or other medical indicators
  • History of somatic complaints, including pain or irritation of the genitals
  • Sexually transmitted disease
  • Pregnancy in young adolescents
  • Frequent unexplained sore throats, yeast, or urinary infections
  • Child reports inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Child engaged in highly inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Withdrawal, chronic depression
  • Excessive seductiveness
  • Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
  • Poor self-esteem, self-devaluation, lack of confidence
  • Peer problems, lack of involvement
  • Massive weight change
  • Suicide attempts (especially adolescents)
  • Hysteria, lack of emotional control
  • Sudden school difficulties
  • Inappropriate sex play or premature understanding of sex
  • Threatened by physical contact

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in Indian Country

Each tribe must have an established procedure for reporting child abuse and neglect in Indian Country. Tribes may develop, through their own jurisdiction, tribal laws that can enhance Public Law 101-647 and 101-630 to provide more specific guidelines on reporting and who is mandated to report. In Public Law 101-647, the Crime Control Act of 1990, mandates that, “Personnel with knowledge or reasonable suspicion that a child was abused in Indian Country or that actions are being taken or will be taken that would reasonably be expected to result in the abuse of a child in Indian Country must immediately report such abuse or action to local child protective services or local law enforcement.” Public Law 280 covers tribes that are under state jurisdiction and are required to follow state law regarding who must report and who to report to.

Who is required to report?

Individuals hired in positions involving children are required by law to report any suspected child maltreatment. The law designates certain professionals but every individual (citizen) is required to report any suspected child abuse and neglect concern. Mandated reporters include the following professionals but are not limited to these positions:

Health Care Personnel
  • Physicians
  • Surgeons
  • Dentists· Nurses
  • Dental hygienists
  • Optometrists
  • Medical examiner
  • Emergency medical technician
  • Paramedic
  • Health care provider
Education Personnel
  • Teachers
  • School Counselors
  • Instructional Aides
  • Teacher’s Aides
  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Bus Drivers
  • Administrative Officers
  • Supervisors of child welfare and attendance
  • Truancy Officers
Child Care Personnel
  • Child day care worker
  • Head Start teacher
  • Public assistant worker
  • Group home, day care, or residential facility worker
  • Social worker
Mental Health Personnel
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Psychological assistant
  • Marriage, family or child counselor
Law Enforcement Personnel
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Probation officer
  • Juvenile rehab or retention workers
  • Employees of public agencies responsible for enforcing statutes and judicial orders

How to report child abuse and/or neglect in Indian Country

Each tribe is required to have a protocol for reporting child abuse and neglect. Each BIA and IHS facility (agency, school, clinic, etc.) is also required to have an established protocol for reporting child abuse and neglect. If there is a question regarding what the protocol, the local law enforcement or the local Indian Child Welfare program should be contacted or one may call the BIA national child abuse hotline at 1-800-633-5155 to report.

A protocol is the procedure established by the tribal child protection agency as to how each report of suspected child abuse will be processed by the designated authorized agencies. The protocol will dictate who should receive such reports and the timeframe for responding to those reports. Tribes under state jurisdiction (P.L. 280) should follow the guidelines established by the state. Typically a tribe will establish a protocol that is supported by a tribal resolution. BIA and IHS should work with local tribes to establish reporting requirements that are in compliance with the federal laws and also meet the needs of local tribes and resources. Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) help to decrease conflicts when local tribes, state agencies, schools, child care facilities, medical facilities, and federal agencies (U.S. Attorney’s Office, FBI, IHS, BIA, etc.) have agreed on an established protocol. Having an established, published/written protocol eliminates many questions about how any single case should be handled since all cases would follow the same guidelines, providing consistency. Irregularities can occur when there is confusion about what the protocol is or when the established protocol is not followed consistently or when exceptions are made without consultation by key child protection personnel.

Making a report

It is important to emphasize that a report is required to be made when there is reasonable cause to believe that a child or adolescent has been abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused. A report of suspected abuse is only a request for an investigation and is not the actual investigation. The actual investigation is the lawful assessment by an authorized individual to determine if a harmful condition exists involving a minor and what emergency action should be taken for the safety of the minor.

In order for an investigation to be initiated from a report, it is important that as much information as possible be provided about the suspected harmful condition. Some agencies may have a priority system based on the age of the children, likelihood of immediate danger, frequency of the harmful events, or other criteria that may place some reports at a lower priority than others. The protocol agreed to by the child protection agencies (tribal, federal or state) would determine the priority of responses.

The kind of information that would be helpful to provide in a report includes:
  • the name, address, age, and sex of the child that is the subject of the report,
  • if currently enrolled, the grade and school of the child,
  • the name and address of the child’s parent(s), caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s care,
  • the name and address of the alleged offender, if other than the parent or primary caregiver,
  • the name and address of the person providing the information (report) to the agency,
  • a brief narrative as to the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, including any previously known or suspected abuse of the child or the child’s siblings and the suspected date of the abuse, or the reason there is concern about future harm, and,
  • any other information the agency or the person who made the report to the agency believes to be important to the investigation and disposition of the alleged abuse.

Receiving a report within Indian Country

Any tribal, federal, or local law enforcement agency or respective child protective services agency that receives a report alleging abuse shall determine how immediately it will initiate an investigation of such allegation and shall determine what immediate, appropriate steps are necessary to secure the safety and well-being of the child or children involved. Most agencies have a priority or assessment system which will determine the promptness of the investigations and the validity of the report. According to P.L.101-647, it states that "upon completion of the investigation of any report of alleged abuse in Indian Country that is made to a local law enforcement agency or local child protective services agency, such agency (BIA and IHS) shall inform appropriate officials of the other child protection agencies, and within 36 hours, prepare and submit a written report to the other agencies on such allegation and immediately notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation if the abuse occurred in Indian Country and involves an Indian child or the alleged abuser is an Indian."

If a tribe is under state jurisdiction (P.L.280), then the protocol would follow state law or if an agreement is in place (either written or verbal), that procedure would take precedent. Prompt action to secure the safety of the child should be the priority. Personnel of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service are required to follow P.L.101-647 guidelines. Federally recognized tribes under federal jurisdiction should have established protocols with procedures that comply with P.L.101-647. Assumed by this law is that written documentation will follow any report and that the designated agency will maintain files, collect data and provide follow up.

Not all child maltreatment may fall under the federal crimes acts that would initiate a response from the FBI, however the report may still require an assessment of the child’s safety. It is important that tribes develop their own reporting procedures and policies on child abuse and neglect so that all children may be protected. If tribes have agreements with state agencies, it would be beneficial to have the reporting procedures readily available and publicly posted.

The question of who has jurisdiction has motivated tribes, states, and federal agencies to consider Memorandums of Understanding to delineate the procedure when confusion arises due to jurisdiction.
See Jurisdiction Chart

Is the name of the person who initiates a report disclosed?

According to federal law governing Indian Country, the identity of any person making a report within the boundaries of Indian Country shall not be disclosed without the consent of the individual, to any person other than a court of competent jurisdiction or an employee of an Indian tribe, a state or the federal government who may need to know the information in the performance of such employee’s duties.

Tribes can establish a higher criteria for maintaining anonymity of individuals who report cases of child maltreatment. IHS and BIA as well as tribes can promote confidentiality by training, elimination of obvious disclosures, and delivering immediate consequences for violations of confidentiality.

What happens when the person who reported, questions the status of the report?

Confidentiality laws prohibit the release of information on specific cases. Mandated reporters may inquire about the procedures for cases and may seek a general status of the protocol used in investigations and prosecution; however it must be understood that confidentiality is important and that investigators and other child protection personnel are obligated to maintain confidentiality.

It may be increasingly frustrating for reporters of suspected child maltreatment to wonder if a child and/or children that they are concerned about, are being protected when no specific action is evident. Concerned citizens who report cases of child maltreatment must believe that their actions are valued. The level of confidence in the child protection system must not be underestimated by having non-responsive child protection team members, poorly conducted investigations, or unaccountability. Therefore, it is important that a balanced system of accountability and responsiveness by the Child Protection Team (CPT) be readily available to the community. One method of accountability could be annual reports to the public/community that would include, among other information the number of cases, number of prior reports on same cases and general disposition of cases. CPTs should promote professional development to ensure that child protection personnel skills are current for effective investigation, prosecution, safety issues, and family preservation.

What happens if a person fails to report?

Failure to immediately report the abuse of a child in Indian Country, or actions being taken that would reasonably be expected to result in the abuse of a child in Indian Country, to local child protective services or local law enforcement is a federal crime. Most states laws also require penalties for individuals who do not report child maltreatment. According to P.L.101-647, mandated reporters who fail to immediately report to local law enforcement or local child protective services agency shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both. Any supervisor or person in a position of authority over a mandated reporter who inhibits or prevents that person from making a report can also be penalized.

It has been problematic for some programs such as elementary schools and pre-school programs to have a simple process for reporting since teachers and other school personnel may be instructed to inform supervisors and/or school or program administrators before initiating a report. In some cases, it may be difficult for religious or church officials to understand how important it is to report cases of abuse involving their membership. CPT members can assist programs in developing a protocol that is acceptable for those situations where monitoring the chain of supervision is important while allowing for a more straightforward, mandatory reporting process. Involving medical and educational facilities in an MOU would decrease the potential for miscommunication.

Immunity From Liability
All persons or agencies making a report of suspected child abuse and/or neglect, which is based upon their reasonable belief and is made in good faith, shall be immune from civil liability and criminal prosecution. Federal court rulings have upheld this immunity from liability in cases involving Indian Country.

Required Character and Background Investigations
for Potential Employees

Character and background information is required for anyone applying for a position involving children. This information is part of the background investigation that programs are required to conduct. This became necessary when it became apparent that individuals were being hired that had prior sexual or violence offenses against children. The requirement for a background investigation is an attempt to protect children from being subject to individuals who have a record of harm toward minors. There is a minimum standard of conduct that must be established by the employing agencies that is part of the character check.

The Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act of 1990 states that no person who has been found guilty of, or entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, any offense under federal, state or tribal law that involves crimes of violence; a sex offense, more specifically sexual assault, molestation, exploitation, contact or prostitution; or crimes against persons shall be employed in a position having regular contact with or control over Indian children. Also, an offense involving a child or drug felony may be grounds for denying employment or for dismissal from a position with regular contact or control over Indian children. This law also mandates the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and tribes establish minimum standards of character and to conduct background investigations for all employees in positions having regular contact with or control over Indian children to ensure that potentially abusive individuals are identified and precluded or removed from those positions.

Minimum Standards of Character

Federal law requires that any applicant, volunteer or employee may be disqualified from consideration or continuing employment by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or with tribes who would be in a position that involves regular contact with or control over Indian children based upon the individual’s:

  • Misconduct or negligence if it interfered with or affected an employer’s duties or responsibilities.
  • Criminal or dishonest conduct if it affected the individual’s performance or the performance of others.
  • Intentional false statements, deception or fraud on an examination or in obtaining employment.
  • Refusal to furnish testimony or cooperate with an investigation.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse of a nature or duration that suggests he/she cannot perform the duties of the position or could threaten the safety of children.
  • Illegal use of a controlled substance without evidence of substantial rehabilitation.
  • Acts or activities designed to disrupt government programs.

Tribal employment is impacted by the limited number of applicants when the results of background investigations eliminate individuals from employment considerations due to their prior criminal behavior and/or conviction. CPTs can develop strategies for addressing how adolescents and young adults in their communities may become more aware of how criminal offenses can seriously impede future employment opportunities, especially in tribal communities where many positions involve contact with minor children or vulnerable populations.

Child Protection Teams

Child Protection Teams (CPTs) in Indian Country vary. Most attempt to be a cooperative effort of community service delivery agencies with the purpose of protecting Indian children and preventing abuse and neglect in the future. In cases where Indian children have been found to be abused or neglected, the CPT seeks to provide protective services to immediately secure the child’s safety and health. Once the safety of the child is secured, the CPT can facilitate the development and implementation of a plan to promote the short - and long-term well - being of the child and the incorporation of appropriate family members in the care of the child. In addition, CPTs are to promote prevention of child abuse and neglect by acting as advocates for services and programs for children and assisting with other agencies to establish a unified response to prevent of child maltreatment.

Child Protection Teams are technical and advisory in nature and are not intended to take the place of any agency in the community that provides services to children. They are designed to promote coordination, cooperation, communication, and consistency among community agencies in the protection of child abuse and neglect in Indian communities and to promote prevention efforts. The essence of a Child Protection Team is to be the network of service providers that is the safety net for any child that may be harmed. In an ideal situation, there can be more than one CPT in a community made up of the same agencies. The first tier CPT would be at the administrative level addressing agency policies and procedures and community/tribal responses, and the second tier CPT would address cases with a focus on direct services to children and follow-up on recommendations and services.

There are federal agencies that participate in similar fashion to a CPT that address policies and procedures at the national level affecting child protection concerns (Federal CPT). For more information about this team or any CPT you can contact Ramona Williams.

Local Child Protection Teams should consist of (but not be limited to) the following agencies:
  • Law Enforcement (Tribal and/or Bureau, FBI and county)
  • Social Services/Indian Child Welfare
  • Child Protective Services· Mental Health or Behavioral Health
  • Judicial Services (prosecutor and/or judge)
  • Medical/Nursing
  • Child Development Programs
  • State or County Social Services
  • U.S. Attorney Office (District)

Agency membership should reflect the local/tribal agencies that respond within the child protection network. Child protection teams should have a core membership. It is important to emphasize that the commitment to a child protection team is the commitment from agencies and not just an individual who is from a particular agency. When an agency is a member of the child protection team that should reflect a higher level of involvement than when a single individual is involved in the CPT from an agency.

Confidentiality in Child Protection Teams

Maintaining confidentiality is primary to any CPT. The level of confidentiality is a direct consequence of the level of confidence and professionalism that each person has in their team members. The intent of confidentiality is to maintain a professional arena that safeguards sensitive and/or critical information about families or individuals that may cause harm or create difficulty, and to limit the amount of information available to the public. Maintaining confidentiality is a process to hold individuals accountable and responsible about sensitive and/or critical information they have available to them about child abuse and neglect cases.

Confidentiality concerns are a major barrier to inter-agency cooperation. It should be determined in the CPT policies and procedures the extent of information necessary for certain agencies to provide services for families. Information should be shared on a “need to know” basis only and any personal contributions to case discussions should not violate the agency or professional ethical guidelines. Confidentiality shall be maintained and the tribal code or relevant federal law will be the basis for any legal action required in response to a child abuse and/or neglect referral. Each CPT member should have an orientation and training as to their role and responsibility with an emphasis on confidentiality.

Each CPT member must sign a Confidentiality Agreement prior to serving on the CPT. Many CPTs include the confidentiality statement as part of the sign-in sheet for each meeting. This is a regular reminder to all who attend that confidentiality is in place and will be mandated. It is a record that all participants will abide by the rules governing confidentiality in that jurisdiction.

Duties of the CPT

Upon the development of the CPT, procedures for the team should be established. These procedures should detail how cases are brought before the CPT and the role of the CPT in cases, as well as the role in the community the CPT will play. The CPT can do many things for the community, such as:
  • Provide training on child abuse and neglect, parenting classes, CPR, foster parent recruitment, Indian Child Welfare Act, prevention of child abuse and neglect, and domestic violence.
  • Assist in community wide activities, i.e., health fairs, children’s safe place at pow-wows, hand games, fundraisers, prevention activities, etc.
  • Provide brochures and other written information on healthy families for agencies to disseminate.
  • Work with the schools in promoting drug free and violence free communities.
  • Provide presentations to community groups, i.e., elders, men’s and/or women’s groups/clubs, church groups, etc.
  • Prepare annual reports of activities.

The development of a CPT will be greatly influenced by the purpose for the team. A CPT can provide one or more of the following services:
  • Protection of children
  • Case management
  • Case follow-up and tracking
  • Sponsoring activities
  • Activism
  • Providing recommendations to the court
  • Coordination of resources
  • Education support for team members and community
  • Advocacy
  • Discussion and problem solving
  • Data collection
  • Provision of multidisciplinary input
  • Accountability to the tribal government
  • Report to the community




This index includes the entire content of the CD including the Overview of the Handbook and by viewing the following list all topics are identified.

I. Training Modules: This section includes modules set up in Power Point files that can be used for training. Power Point is a computer program that allows for individual slides so that each topic is an individual presentation. They are divided into sections according to topics.
Child Abuse and Neglect:
Child Protection Teams:
Domestic Violence:
Historical Overview:
Jurisdiction and Expert Testimony:
Teen Suicide:
Team Building:
II. Resources: These modules provide additional information on the topics listed above and can be used as training guides for presentations. This section includes training objectives, activities (experiential and role play), discussion questions, and links to other helpful files that provide additional background information or resources..
Background Checks:
Child Abuse and Neglect:
Child Protection Teams:
Domestic Violence:
Team Building:
III. Supporting/Background Information: The information in this section can assist in developing customized training sessions, or can be used as handouts.
Child Abuse and Neglect:
Child Protection Team:
Domestic Violence:
IV. Additional Reading: This section includes articles to supplement the prior information.
V. Appendix:  These are actual laws, policies and memorandums.
 VI. Web Resources: Internet connection is necessary to view these sites.

Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
Native American Programs
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
PO Box 26901 - CHO 3B 3406
Oklahoma City, OK 73190
(405) 271-8858