White Earth Nation Makes Great Progress in Building Stronger Early Childhood Systems

In December 2012, ACF and four American Indian tribes launched a new partnership, the Tribal Early Learning Initiative (TELI).

The White Earth Band of Chippewa, located in northwestern Minnesota, has leveraged the TELI opportunity to great success. Last year, White Earth Nation issued a tribal mandate that programs across the reservation work together for the benefit of the people in a more collaborative sprit to break down the silos of individual programs. Tribal agencies have enthusiastically responded and created WE-CARE (White Earth Coordination, Assessment, Resources, Education).

WE-CARE is a family-centered approach to providing coordinated and meaningful services for families working with White Earth Nation agencies. The goals of WE-CARE are to:

  • Create a functional model of case management.
  • Increase services, referrals, and resources.
  • Decrease duplication.
  • Increase communication and coordination.

The WE-CARE team (made up of representatives from several tribal programs including Home Health/Tribal MIECHV, Child Care, Head Start, Indian Child Welfare, Mental Health, Housing, and Human Resources) has been working to develop policies and procedures for the case management model. Universal intake and confidentiality statement forms have already been developed and White Earth has invested in Rite Track, a software system that will be used to manage and share information among White Earth programs. Rite Track includes modules customized to the needs of each program and will allow staff to work more efficiently by streamlining operations.

Funds from TELI (as well as Tribal MIECHV) were instrumental in purchasing and supporting the Rite Track system and setting a foundation for the WE-CARE effort. The White Earth TELI partners (Home Health/Tribal MIECHV, Child Care, and Head Start) have been leading the way to show how programs on the White Earth Reservation can work together. White Earth’s work has much to teach other communities as well!