A Message From The Office of Tribal Relations: April Newsletter

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A Message From the Office of Tribal Relations

April 2022

Office of Tribal Relations Welcomes Wendy Thomas

The Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) is excited to introduce Wendy Thomas, the new Tribal Early Learning Liaison with OTR. 

We are honored to have Wendy join our team and look forward to her leadership in this position.

Please join us in welcoming Wendy in her respected role, which includes facilitating the Indian Policy for Early Learning (IPEL) and assisting with increased collaboration between tribes and DCYF on improving support for early learning services in tribal communities.

wendy pic

Wendy Thomas bio is below

In This Issue:

Fair Start for Kids Newsletter Launch

Subscribe here to receive the Fair Start for Kids monthly newsletter.

Career Opportunities

Tribal Affairs Communication Specialists, Oregon Department of Human Services Tribal Affairs

Wild Foods and Medicines Program Coordinator, Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB)

ICW Social Worker, Snoqualmie, WA

Ta’c Leeheyn (Good day),

iinim we’nikt wees Ta-Ma-We-Ta-Lote titoqatimki kaa soyapotimki Wendy Thomas. My Nez Perce name is Ta-Ma-We-Ta-Lote which means, Delivering the law by water, and my English name is Wendy Thomas. 

I am excited to serve as the Early Learning Tribal Liaison with the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), Office of Tribal Relations (OTR). 

I am an enrolled Nez Perce Tribal member and also Navajo (Dine). I am originally from the Nez Perce reservation in Lapwai, ID. I currently reside in Spokane, WA with my family. I have four (4) children; Azavier, Aniya, Zaidyn and Zaio.

I was previously employed with DCYF, Region 1, as a Child & Family Welfare Services Supervisor for the North Spokane office. Prior to my work with DCYF, I was employed with the Kalispel Tribe as the Social Services Director.

Additionally, I have several years of Early Childhood Education with my own Tribe as the Early Childhood Education Director overseeing Tribal Early Head Start, Head Start and CCDF programs. I have also previously served as an Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, and Attendance (ERSEA) Consultant to assist with Head Start federal reviews.

I am excited to be a part of the Tribal Relations team. As a Head Start graduate and parent, I have and always will be an advocate for children and families. I look forward to working with and building collaborative relationships with the 29 Washington State Tribes and other tribally affiliated and urban Indian populations regarding our most precious gifts – our children. 

Outside of the office, I am committed to being a parent, and practicing self-care. I am a two time “Half Ironman” which means I swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles for “fun.” In my spare time, I practice learning my traditional Nez Perce language.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at wendy.thomas@dcyf.wa.gov.

3rd Annual Virtual Indigenous Children, Youth & Families (ICYF) Conference - Save the Date

When: Aug. 9-11

Where: virtual – the full agenda and registration link will be sent our this summer.

Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST

This year’s ICYF Conference will focus on building stronger connections. Tribes, DCYF staff, Court staff, Educator’s, Caregivers, Parents, AOC, AAG, DOC, DSHS, OPD, Children’s Attorneys, CASA, GAL, LICWAC members, Community Partners, and Alumni are encouraged to attend.

If you need language access services – particularly ASL or other language interpreting, document translation, closed captioning or other assistance –  please email dcyf.tribalrelations@dcyf.wa.gov immediately so we can make these arrangement for you. Use “Language Access Service” in the subject line.

tribe artist

Tribal Artist: Terrance Paul

Yakama Nation Tribal Member 

White Swan High School 2020 Graduate

Conferences and Training Opportunities

  • Washington State Indian Education Association (WSIEA) Conference Youth Days, April 4-5: The Washington State Indian Education Association (WSIEA) Conference Youth Days is scheduled for April 4-5 and runs parallel to the general conference on site. Click here for the agenda. There is still space available for Native students to register. There will be many college representatives onsite to meet with students and parents. These conversations are also integrated into the agenda. Breakfasts, lunches and snacks are all provided for students both days. Please share with your students and families and help us get the word out to your networks. Click here for more information.
  • TBRI® Introduction and Overview, April 6-7: TBRI® (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. This course is an overview designed to give you exposure to all parts of TBRI® by highlighting the ways in which each section of the intervention strategy fits into the holistic nature of TBRI®. The first few activities provide an opportunity for you to become comfortable with each other, share successes and challenges with each other, and become familiar with the basic ideas of TBRI® The training is April 6-7, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Register here.
  • Supporting Native Students: A Community Conversation for Families of Native Students in Washington State, April 20: You are invited to attend the conversation on April 20, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, email Jenny Serpa at serpaj2@gmail.com.

Click here to join

Meeting ID: 861 7093 8291 Passcode: 115665

  • Tribal Education Leader’s Roundtable, April 27: The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction invites you to attend the Tribal Education Leader’s Roundtable on April 27 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. The event is at the Emerald Queen Casino Ballroom. The meeting goals are introductions, updates on the project, input and planning for materials, brainstorming session and the survey. Register by April 10. To register, send an email to Jenny Serpa at serpaj2@gmail.com
  • Infant and Early Childhood Conference – virtual, May 2-6: The virtual conference will take place May 2-6 and have 30 virtual sessions. Audience members will include parents, special educators, paraprofessionals, service providers in developmental and neuro-developmental centers, Head Start and Early Head Start staff, agency administrators, case managers, health care professionals, child care providers, and others interested in young children with special needs. Find more here.
  • Trauma and Resilience in Tribal Communities and Practicing with Cultural Humility, May 17: The Trauma and Resilience in Tribal Communities and Practicing with Cultural Humility training is May 17 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST. The training is in the Newton Lounge at the West Central Community Center, located at 1603 N. Belt Street, Spokane, WA 99205. There are only spots for up to 30 participants. Register here.
  • 4th Annual Washington Fatherhood Summit, May 24-26: Please join the Washington Fatherhood Council for the 4th-annual Washington Fatherhood Summit. This three-day event starts Tuesday, May 24, and concludes Thursday, May 26. Each day will start with a welcome message at 8:30 a.m. Activities will conclude a little after 1 p.m. There will be presentations, forums and panels scheduled with leadership from Washington state agencies, experts in the education field, and advocates for fathers everywhere. Register here.
  • Indian Child Welfare Act Qualified Expert Witness Training, May 25-26: The Oregon Department of Human Services Tribal Affairs Unit and DCYF are cohosting the Indian Child Welfare Act Qualified Expert Witness Training on May 25-26. The training is aimed at building a foundation for states and tribes to provide QEW testimony on child welfare cases involving tribal children and families. Register here.

Funding Opportunities

Development and Implementation Grants Available Soon 

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is now soliciting applications for Developmental and Implementation Grants through the Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2022. This funding is intended for tribal entities that do not have prior experience with implementing evidence-based home visiting models, performance measurement systems, and continuous quality improvement (CQI) activities. The Tribal MIECHV Development and Implementation Grants application due date has been extended to April 20, 2022.

Funds will support 63-month grants (cooperative agreements) between ACF and federally-recognized Indian tribes (or a consortium of Indian tribes), tribal organizations, or urban Indian organizations to support the following:

  • Conduct community needs and readiness assessments

  • Develop the infrastructure needed for planning and implementation of evidence-based maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting programs

  • Provide high-quality, evidence-based home visiting services to pregnant women and families with young children aged birth to kindergarten entry

  • Implement performance measurement and CQI activities

  • Engage in activities to strengthen early childhood systems of support for families with young children

The anticipated project start date is July 1, 2022. This notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) is intended to reach communities that are underserved by evidence-based home visiting programs designed for American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

More information is available in the NOFO: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=335554. If you have additional questions about this funding opportunity, please email Farha Marfani (farha.marfani@acf.hhs.gov).


Creative Start Grant Open Through April 14 

Do you serve students preschool through 3rd grade? If you do, you may be eligible for the Creative Start Grant. ArtsWA’s Creative Start Grant program seeks to support the creative, academic, and social emotional growth of Washington State’s early learners through arts integration. Click here to learn more. 

The Creative Start Grant is:

  • Focused on arts integration and professional learning
  • Focused on preschool through 3rd grade students and educators
  • Open to single-site (one location) or multi-site projects
  • Open to new or continuing arts integration projects

Who is eligible to apply? Any Washington State:

  • Public school, school district, or Educational Service District (ESD) serving early learning students, preschool through 3rd grade

  • Tribal school or government serving early learning students, preschool through 3rd grade

  • Early Learning Center with 501(c)(3) status

Click here to apply.


Community Learning Grants Still Available

Community Learning Grants are still available. You must apply by April 7 to qualify. The grants are administered by the Group Health Foundation. Find out more here.


Improving Health Care Access for Children and Adolescents in Washington Grant Program Now Available

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has posted a Request for Funding Applications (RFA) for the School-Based Health Centers – Improving Health Care Access for Children and Adolescents in Washington grant program. The application period will close on April 15, 2022. Click here to find more information or apply.

Volunteer Opportunities

Tribal ECEAP Workgroup

Please join us for the monthly Tribal ECEAP workgroup on the third Wednesday of each month. The focus of this workgroup is working on removing barriers for tribes in providing ECEAP and for Native children who attend ECEAP at non-tribal sites. Over the next couple of months, the workgroup will focus on the integrated pre-k report, and coordinated recruitment and eligibility. 

Tribal ECEAP Workgroup dates: April 20, May 18, June 15 from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. PST.

Click Here to Join

Meeting ID: 831 2871 4509 Passcode: 054540


Community Advisory Committee

Coordinated Care is looking to recruit two lived experience experts to participate in our Community Advisory Committee which meets quarterly for one and a half hours, generally from 5:30-7pm.  This committee is used to highlight the work that Coordinated Care does as well as get feedback from our Community Partners on areas for innovation and improvement.

Coordinated Care is accepting bios and resumes now through April 18. If you are interested in being a committee member, please send a bio or resume with why you would like to join and some of the expertise that you would contribute to the team.  Email Sydney Doherty at Sydney.l.doherty@coordinatedcarehealth.com or call 253-290-2878.

General Information and Resources

Child Welfare Early Learning Project

CWELN connects every identified family to community early learning and family support programs to achieve equitable outcomes and reduce the likelihood of future child welfare involvement. Click here to learn more.


Olympia Watch: Session Update

  • HB 1725, concerning the creation of an endangered mission person advisory designation for missing indigenous persons.  
  • SB 5252, concerning school district consultation with local tribes.
  • HB 1571, Concerning protections and services for indigenous persons who are missing, murdered, or survivors of human trafficking.
  • SB 5694, recognizing Indian tribes as among the governmental entities with which the department of corrections may enter into agreements on matters to include the housing of inmates convicted in tribal court.


Therapy Dog Gwena Provides Comfort at Echo Glen

The Canine Connections program was established at Echo Glen Children’s Center more than 20 years ago. The program pairs rescue dogs with the young people in residence, who train them in basic obedience over an eight-week session. At the end of the session, the dog goes home with its new adoptive family.  Enrollment in the program is in high demand, and not all residents can participate. However, spending time with animals, especially dogs, can be very therapeutic for residents. After one youth received some devastating news just weeks before their release date, Canine Connection staff Tina and Laura created a campus-wide program for residents to spend time with Gwena, Echo Glen’s certified therapy dog. Gwena has been on the Echo campus since she was a puppy. Initially, Gwena received service dog training but due to physical limitations, was ineligible to become a full-fledged service dog. Happily, she found her calling as a therapy dog and lives in the cottages where she received her training.

Gwena happily serves the residents and facility that helped raise her, and, thanks to this new program, one-on-one visits with Gwena are now available to all residents to ease the pain of “ruff” news or to help reinforce treatment goals.


Project Avery

Project Avery is a community of youth and adults who have personally experienced parental incarceration. The program is zero cost, fun and completely online for children who have a parent in prison, so they do not have to go through this experience alone. Project Avery has created a judgement-free, safe space for youth to connect, smile and grow. Click here to apply.


Some Minority Groups Missed at Higher Rate in 2020 Census

Black, Hispanic and American Indian residents were missed at higher rates than a decade ago during the 2020 census, according to a report released March 10 that evaluated how well the once-a-decade head count tallied every U.S. resident.


Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) Updates

JR is excited to partner with a new contractor, A Better Track (ABT), to provide employment education training for young people at Echo Glen Children’s Center. ABT is part of the MyJOB program and assists youth with gaining meaningful employment by learning the basics of resume building, interviewing, and employment readiness skills.

ABT facilitators provide services during the school day, and youth receive school credit for their participation in the course. These facilitators also provide one-on-one services to youth preparing for release. This sets them up for successful transition into adulthood with a comprehensive resume in hand and basic employment and interviewing skills before re-entering the community. Twenty-four young people are currently enrolled in the ABT/MyJOB program at Echo Glen.

Students recently participated in a class focused on teamwork. Together with staff, students worked to establish a definition of teamwork and its principles. Students were split into small groups, provided marshmallows and toothpicks, and asked to build the tallest structure possible without talking. Students were then asked to repeat the process, but with the ability to speak. Students were directed to use the principles of teamwork they identified in the first part of the lesson. A talented team was identified early, but the first attempt did not yield successful results. On the second attempt, however, the group began to work together to create the tallest structure.

ABT has done this activity in a variety of settings, but was truly inspired to watch the residents work in nearly total silence to achieve their goal. This activity allowed students to engage with each other using all the necessary skills to work as a team. This was a great reminder that what we teach is just as important as how we teach.


Recommendations - Read, Listen and Watch



  • Sent Away | Podcast (apmreports.org): It didn't seem to matter what happened at the teen treatment center. The state of Utah always gave it another chance. Death. Allegations of abuse. Criminal charges. Bizarre punishments. Whistleblowers coming forward. Each time, the place got a pass. Click here to listen.


Region 1 Resources

Teen Text 844-814-8336

Teen Text gives teens a safe place to chat with someone who understands. This free, confidential service gives youth experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges someone to talk and engage with that has experienced similar challenges. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, call, text and connect with a peer who is here to help.

This free service is available to any teen or young adults, living within the Spokane Regional Service Area, which includes; Adams, Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Steven’s counties. Teen Text is available seven days a week from the morning to 11 p.m. Call or Text 844-814-8336.