New Outcomes from 2nd Annual Symposium on American Indian Health

Engaging the Strength of Family to Promote Lifelong Health: Lessons from the First Americans

On May 1, 2017, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (JHCAIH), the Native American Father and Families Association (NAFFA), and Casey Family Programs convened a daylong national symposium entitled, Engaging the Strength of Family to Promote Lifelong Health: Lessons from the First Americans at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.

It is a privilege and honor to share the proceedings of this national conference dedicated to exploring effective, family-based approaches to promoting Native American health and well-being. The symposium featured a keynote and closing address, and three panels of experts from across the country. Over 300 people participated in person or via webcast to learn about and share evidence-based practices and reaffirm the need for expanding culturally relevant, family-based programming to overcome health disparities in Native American communities. Our goal in reporting the proceedings is to anchor this conference as a point of departure to move the field forward through continued generation of knowledge, policy, and best practices to improve the health and well-being of Native peoples, and by extension, the planet.

Read more for the full proceedings.

Symposium conclusion and recommendations:

  • Acknowledge the historical context underlying the social, behavioral, and mental health challenges that Native American youth, families, and communities face today.
  • Act upon the rigorous evidence base that supports early childhood home-visiting and parent training as proven methods to reverse intergenerational stress and trauma.
  • Improve systems to screen, detect, and intervene on childhood social, emotional, and behavioral issues as early as possible in the lifespan.
  • Create training opportunities for paraprofessional and professional Native health workers to gain expertise in the child development and family systems fields of practice and research.
  • Commit to fielding multi-disciplinary teams and approaches that engage communities and that are culturally grounded.   Give overwhelming preference to protective factor approaches that affect change.
  • Delineate sustainable funding streams, such as Medicaid reimbursement, to support health workers delivering family-based and home-based services.
  • Translate research findings into tribal, state, and federal health policies.

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