Nez Perce Tribal Programs Lead the Way at Strengthening Families Training Institute

Boise, ID. Every year the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund convenes the Strengthening Families Training Institute (SFTI) which brings together over 200 child advocates, prevention practitioners, educators, and parents from throughout Idaho to learn how to prevent child abuse and neglect from national and local experts and to share their experiences. 

Several of our Nez Perce Tribal Programs were involved in this training through conducting workshops, serving in leadership roles, receiving awards, and a few were there simply as active learners. 

The Nez Perce Tribe’s Director of Indian Child Welfare, Rebecca Lehman, led a workshop focusing on the spirit of ICWA; the need for active effort at all times for successful reunification, the importance of culture in a family’s healing journey, and what “prevention” efforts look like for children on the Nez Perce Reservation. 

Feather Holt, Nez Perce Tribe Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, served on the closing panel of the conference alongside Raquel Broncheau, who shared her journey of taking on permanent guardianship of her siblings. In addition, Holt was recently appointed by the governor to the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund as the Region II Board Member.

Nez Perce Child Support Program (CSP) Director, Lilly James, and Andre Picard, CSP Outreached Specialist, conducted a workshop exploring the strength within Native American communities, utilizing cultural practices to cultivate pride, enhance family togetherness, and create a vision of resilient families and united communities. By the end of the workshop, participants were equipped with practical knowledge, resources, and a deeper understanding of how cultural practices can be harnessed to prevent child abuse and strengthen Native American families. 

The NPT Child Support Program was also one of the recipients of the Pinwheel Awards. In 2016, the Idaho Children’s Trust Fund Board began a tradition to recognize people and groups who have made significant contributions in preventing child abuse and neglect in the past year. 

The Nez Perce Child Support Program was awarded for its unique and culturally significant approach to parenting education by using cultural practices to teach parenting. While building hand drums or sewing moccasins, the parenting curriculum was presented. The practice itself was healing as many have struggled with their cultural identity and parenting roles that were upended through historical trauma and dislocation. Culture is prevention when it helps to heal the wounds that have made it hard to parent.

There were several other participants representing various Nez Perce Tribal Departments. Each one fully engaged in order to process, reflect, and apply what they’ve learned all with the same goals in mind; to strengthen families, provide effective resources, and most of all, protect our children.

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