Connecting with Families in Black and Indigenous Communities.

Kin/grandfamily caregivers’ ideas about their roles in protecting and providing for the children in their care depend on their families’ values and cultures.

Working with Black and Indigenous families requires knowledge of culture and context. Some questions to think about:

What are the Family’s Expectations Concerning the Care of Children?

Two-generation nuclear families are not always the norm. Anita Thomas, Ph.D., talks about the supervision and support in Black families that is provided by fictive (non-blood) kin. This sense of collective responsibility is also felt in tribal/Indigenous communities. Generations United GRAND Voice Rosalie Tallbull, describing her early life, says, “The entire [Northern Cheyenne] tribe resided as one family. Everyone shared the upbringing of children. One thing that I remember very vividly—aunts and uncles had the authority to correct any wrongdoing.”

Is it Culturally Acceptable to Discuss Problems Outside the Family?

That depends on the family. Some families may rely on other family members, church or other spiritual leaders, and elders in the community to resolve family matters. Intervention by outsiders, including providers of mental health services, may not always be welcome. Extended family may not be considered outsiders and can be helpful.


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