Child Support Services, Meskwaki Nation

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Meskwaki Nation Child Support Services is dedicated to strengthening the emotional, physical, social, spiritual, cultural, educational, and financial support that children receive from their parents and the Meskwaki Tribal community.

At the time of the Iowa Institute, Allison was a case manager for the Child Support Services Division and now serves as the Title IV-D Director. Allison’s goal leaving the Institute was to develop collaborative partnerships to cross train and integrate healthy marriage and relationship education into their agency’s programming. Following the Institute, Allison received federal funding for case management and integrating healthy relationship education through new partnerships. Shortly after receiving the funding, Allison began meeting monthly with the Tribal Council to discuss how relationship education could help strengthen families. Having funding and council buy-in proved crucial to strengthening the partnerships Allison has since formed.

At the institute, Allison met two individuals who later became partners in her pursuit to integrate healthy relationship education throughout her community. Allison has continued to partner with other organizations in her community to spread the word about healthy relationship education, and she has since co-hosted events and helped other tribal child support programs embed healthy relationship education into their service provision.

One of Meskwaki Child Support Services’ newest programs is called Elder Circle. This program helps families who are having trouble communicating by pairing them with elders in the tribe. The elders help mediate conflict and guide families to other services they might benefit from. Allison recently shared with the Resource Center that she received feedback from parents expressing a need for information on parenting. She printed copies of the Strong Families Series tip sheets and has started passing them out at various classes and meetings.

Develop collaborative partnerships to cross-train agency (or division) staff and integrate healthy marriage and relationship education into their programming. 

Allison connected with Lindsey, a representative from Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) at the Integration Institute. They talked about partnering to provide “Date your Mate” classes and ways to reenergize a current “24/7 Dads” class. Allison and Lindsey joined the Council on Adults and Juveniles and the Meskwaki Drug and Alcohol Abuse Center to re-launch 24/7 fatherhood classes in the community.

 

Allison also reached out to Albert, another institute attendee and Founder and President of the Native American Fatherhood & Families Association (NAFFA), following the institute. She asked him to speak with Tribal employees and the Tribal court about incorporating healthy family and parenting resources into communications regarding health issues, housing, family services, and fiscal responsibility.

Sometimes programs may already exist in your community – you may just need to give them the spark they need!

The Strong Families Tip Sheets provide a strong basis for integrating healthy relationship education into already existing community events. 

Institutes provide an excellent opportunity for meeting potential collaborators, learning about current healthy relationship activities in the host state, and forming partnerships.

Allison met with her leadership to discuss the potential for integration. She also received a grant to implement case management and integrate healthy relationship educate. Following this award, she started meeting monthly with the Tribal Council to discuss ways healthy relationship education could be beneficial.

After meeting Lindsey at the Institute, Allison and Lindsey partnered with two organizations to re-launch 24/7 fatherhood classes in the community.

After Allison spoke with Albert, they co-hosted a community event, Linking Generations, to which roughly 100 families attended. The Linking Generations curriculum focuses on helping grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Albert also joined Allison in speaking to summer youth enrichment participants, ages 14 to 21, about the importance of healthy family relationships.

Allison also met with Harold, an Access and Visitation Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Human Services. They spoke about integrating relationship education into other Tribes’ child support programs. Additionally, they began working on a system of training credits for parents who are already receiving child support. They also identified strong couples who could work with estranged parents on the importance of relationships in supporting their children. 

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Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA), Iowa Department of Human Services, Native American Fatherhood & Families Association (NAFFA)