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Practice Brief 5: MOUs and Authentic Partnership

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2022
4 pages

This “Practice Brief” from the Native Child Advocacy Resource Center reports that available data pertaining to  CAC services in Tribal communities suggest that American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are significantly underserved by accredited CACs, and recommendations are offered to address this issue.


Data indicate that AI/AN children experience maltreatment at rates exceeding all other racial and ethnic groups One potential result of this dynamic is that Tribal agencies and leaders may choose not to refer children to the CAC. From the perspective of a CAC, this refusal to refer children may appear to increase those children’s risk of negative case outcomes. From a Tribal perspective, a CAC that does not respect Tribal sovereignty or seek out the input of Tribal stakeholders is a clear threat to the well-being of its children, families, and communities. Tribes have learned over the course of hundreds of years that many of the worst abuses inflicted on their children and families have been committed in the name of Tribal children’s best interests, as determined by outsiders. CAC professionals should take this history seriously and endeavor to change the narrative between Tribes and outsiders. CACs should prioritize the customization of their MOUs with Tribes, understanding that Tribes are not simply one among many agency partners but sovereign nations with the legal authority to determine what is best for their member children and families. Use of the same MOU provided to non-Tribal partners is not ideal and does not reflect respect for a Tribe’s sovereignty. Instead, CACs should use MOUs to formalize an authentic engagement with ethnic groups in the United States in a cooperative effort to serve the needs of their children.