Maine-Wabanaki REACH is a cross-cultural collaborative comprised of staff from the State of Maine Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) and Wabanaki child welfare programs, Wabanaki Health and Wellness, and the Wabanaki Program. REACH established the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which had until June 2015 to investigate and issue a report on Wabanaki experiences with Maine State child welfare.
Through the TRC process, in order to promote best child welfare practice between Wabanaki and Maine citizens, communities and governments through reconciliation, engagement, advocacy, change and healing activities, REACH:
- Advises the TRC on implementing its truth-seeking activities in a manner that is directed by Wabanaki people.
- Provides education for Native and non-Native people (including service providers, service recipients, policy makers, Wabanaki and Maine community members) about the history of Maine and Wabanaki peoples and how this history contributes to the dynamics of historical trauma and potential for reconciliation. REACH is committed to ensuring Wabanaki and non-Native youth understand history and have hope for the future.
- Prepares communities for the TRC and provides adequate and visible supports (one to one visits, community events and peace and healing circles) to those impacted by the TRC. REACH draws on the work of Dr. Maria Yellowhorse Braveheart, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, Resiliency Building, and traditional healing practices to understand historical trauma and healing strategies.
- Advises state and tribal child welfare systems to improve practice for Native people through staff development, best practice, quality improvement and policy reform.
- Assures that an ongoing evaluation process will be conducted to understand the impact of the TRC and REACH.
REACH will incorporate the lessons learned through the TRC process in all work undertaken and will oversee the implementation of the TRC recommendations. We believe that understanding the success of this model can aid other areas of tribal-state relations and other jurisdictions struggling with ICWA compliance.