Tribal Relations

The Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) has two primary roles:

  • Support the delivery of DCYF services that are of high quality and culturally sensitive.
  • Ensure tribes can access DCYF services in a timely manner.

Our office coordinates, monitors, and assesses DCYF’s relationships with tribes and Recognized American Indian Organizations (RAIOs), working to enhance and improve government-to-government relationships. Our goal is to assist the collective needs of Tribal Governments and RAIOs to assure quality and comprehensive program service delivery in the areas of child welfare and early learning.


Current Events:

Tribal Early Learning Fund (TELF) 

Now Accepting Applications

The Tribal Early Learning Fund (TELF) is designed to provide resources to ensure early learning programs can best serve Tribal children, ages prenatal to five, in an inclusive and culturally appropriate manner. Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1, 2024. The maximum award is $250,000 for category 1, $100,000 for category 2, and $75,000 for category 3. The current fiscal year will run from the time of award through June 30, 2024.

Apply online! 

Helpful documents:

The following early learning programs are eligible to apply:

  • Category 1: Tribal Nations, or Tribal Child Care Center 
    • Tribal Head Start and/or Early Head Start
    • Tribal Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program (ECEAP) and/or Tribal Early ECEAP
    • Tribal Child Care Centers
  • Category 2: Tribal Nations, Recognized American Indian Organizations (RAIO’s), Tribal/Native Serving Organization, or Tribal Child Care Providers 
    • Recognized American Indian Organizations (RAIOs) with an early learning program
    • Tribal/Native Serving Organization with an early learning program
    • Tribal Home Visiting
    • Tribally Licensed Child Care providers 
    • Certified/Certified for Payment only Tribal Child Care providers
  • Category 3: Community Organization, State or Certified Child Care providers that serve tribal children 
    • Home Visiting programs serving Tribal children
    • ECEAP and/or Early ECEAP Contractors & Subcontractors serving Tribal children
    • State Licensed Child Care providers serving Tribal children
    • Certified Childcare providers serving Tribal children

For questions, please contact Rayna Espinosa, Tribal Early Learning Fund Specialist, at rayna.espinosa@dcyf.wa.gov or (564) 546-0436.

Caregiver Supports Project

DCYF is engaging with Tribal partners to understand the impacts of the Caregiver Supports Project for each Tribe and ensure a successful transition that best serves Tribal children and families. 

Phase 2 of the Caregiver Supports Project is the implementation of a new Caregiver Supports contract to provide placement supports to both licensed and unlicensed caregivers. Case aides will be part of the placement supports available for caregiver supports, when children are leveled into the 3 through 7 levels, based off the rate assessment. The Caregiver Supports contracts will be awarded to providers through a bidding process and the placement supports will be phased in starting in 2024 and implemented statewide in 2026. 

  • Tribes will have the option of entering into a Caregiver Supports contract to serve their caregivers of tribal jurisdiction children; or 
  • Tribes will have the option of utilizing the contracted provider to serve their caregiver families of tribal jurisdiction children.

Support areas include accessing resources such as education advocacy, health and well-being coordination, finding local child care, culturally and developmentally appropriate care/resources, transition to adulthood, and crisis supports. 

If you would like to meet with DCYF to discuss the Caregiver Supports Project and impacts to your Tribe, email Mandy Morlin at mandy.morlin@dcyf.wa.gov.

Important Documents:

HB 1227 - Keeping Families Together Act

In 2022, the Washington State Legislature passed E2SHB 1227 - the Keeping Families Together Act. The act made several changes to RCW 13.34, the Juvenile Court Act, regarding child dependency cases. The intent of the act was to safely reduce the number of children placed into foster care, reduce racial disproportionality in the child welfare system, and support relatives to take care of children when they must be placed out of home to protect their safety. The Keeping Families Together Act went into effect on July 1, 2023. For more information, visit our HB 1227 webpage.


Contract

DCYF contracts with all 29 Federally Recognized Tribes in Washington State to provide Indian Child Welfare (ICW) and Independent Living (IL) services to their members.  Each Tribe that has a contract with DCYF must provide Quarterly Expenditure Reports (QER) and an Annual Report at the end of the fiscal year. 

Reporting Forms

Centennial Accord

DCYF is working with the 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington to create its state agency Centennial Accord plan. Once complete this plan will be posted here.

Consultation Policy

The purpose of this policy is to direct the procedures that reflect the government-to-government relationship of Washington State federally recognized tribes and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). This policy follows a government-to-government relationship in seeking consultation and participation by representatives of tribal governments in policy development and service program activities in a manner that complies with Chapter 43.376 RCW and the Washington State 1989 Centennial Accord.