This brief describes strategies Children’s Bureau grantees have used to assess their tribal court systems.

The 5-year Tribal Court Improvement Program grants, awarded in 2018, are intended to improve practice in child welfare cases in tribal courts. Tribal grantees are expected to—

  • Conduct assessments of how tribal courts handle child welfare proceedings
  • Implement changes to address the results of the assessments
  • Ensure that children’s needs are met in terms of safety, permanency, and well-being
  • Continuously improve the quality of court hearings and legal representation through training and increasing efforts to expand substantive and procedural justice

The brief reviews grantee approaches, assessment questions, methods, and lessons learned, which may inform other tribes interested in assessing and improving child welfare court practices and outcomes. The content is based on grantee interviews, progress reports, and tribal court assessment reports.