News & Events


July 6, 2016

The Ina Maka “Mother Earth” Family Program

Ina Maka Family Program Team: (left to right) Katie Hess, Myra Parker, Juliana Bourget, Katie Stover, Berta Pierce, Elizabeth Moore, Kristeene Smith, Pam Nason. Not pictured: Lynnette Jordan.

Ina Maka Family Program Team: (left to right) Katie Hess, Myra Parker, Juliana Bourget, Katie Stover, Berta Pierce, Elizabeth Moore, Kristeene Smith, Pam Nason. Not pictured: Lynnette Jordan.

Recent notice that the Ina Maka “Mother Earth” Family Program was awarded four more years of funding by the Administration for Children and Families was welcome news to Myra Parker, PhD, (Mandan-Hidatsa), Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Indigenous Protocols and Ethics Division at IWRI. Myra has been the evaluator for the Ina Maka Tribal Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visitation Program and Evaluation at United Indians of All Tribes Foundation for the last five years and has seen the difference that the culturally enhanced visitations can make in the life of parents and families.

The overall goal of the Ina Maka “Mother Earth” Family Program is to provide evidence-based, culturally-enhanced home visitation to American Indian (AI/AN) families in King County, develop new and maintain existing service agency partnerships to further develop an early childhood system of support for AI/AN families, improve accessibility to successful culturally tailored prevention and treatment services for substance abuse, domestic violence, and other problems within King County, and participate in the national tribal home visitation evaluation effort. The statistics reflect the need for programs like this one:

  • AI/AN children in Seattle live in poverty at nearly three times that of the community at-large and the AI/AN unemployment rate is nearly two times that for all races.
  • AI/AN women in King County report physical abuse before or during pregnancy at a rate three times that of all races.
  • AI/AN children are referred into the foster care system at a rate over seven times that of White children, and are placed in foster care at nearly two times the rate of White children.
Ina Maka_PCHP

Ina Maka Family Program: Parent-Child activities during home visits support early childhood development and school readiness.

To best serve this high need, culturally unique population, Dr. Parker, in coordination with Ms. Katie Hess (Native Hawaiian) Ina Maka Program Director, and Ms. Lynnette Jordan, (Colville-Leech Lake Ojibwe) United Indians of All Tribes Foundation Interim Director of Operations, developed a program of nine culturally-tailored modules modeled after the Parents as Teachers curriculum. In addition, four home visitors, or parent educators, visit AI/AN families in their homes about twice per month, depending on need. Parent educators discuss parenting skills, child development, health and wellness, and perform assessments and screenings. Two elders assist with home visits and help plan monthly group connections with participating families.
Comments such as this one from a parent participant reveals the importance of culturally-tailored modules to the program:
I mean it’s everything – a little bit of the books, a little bit in here. That definitely makes it better than if it was no cultural stuff. That was definitely one of the big things for me, that made me think, “Oh, I definitely want to do it!” It was a make or break thing for me, well not break, but when they told me, “oh and we’re doing the cultural things,” I was like, “Oh I’m definitely doing it – sold!”

Ina Maka_CradleBoard

Ina Maka Family Program: Cradleboards help support Back-to-Sleep practices to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Dr. Parker notes that the role of the Ina Maka Advisory Board [Bonnie Duran, DrPH (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta); Tessa Evans-Campbell, PhD (Snohomish); Karina L. Walters, PhD (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma); Roxanne Finney (Assiniboine); Camie Goldhammer, MSW, CLE (Sisseton Wahpeton); Janet Huggins, PhD; Crystal Tetrick, MPH (Otoe-Missouria/Munsee); Therese Grant, PhD; Joan LaFrance, EdD (Turtle Mountain Chippewa); Selina Mohammad, PhD] was essential in the creation of the program. She writes, “The Ina Maka Scientific and Community Advisory Board provided invaluable direction and support in program implementation and the evaluation efforts. Their expertise and feedback ensured a strong cultural fit for participants, as well as important scientific and program implementation support.”
Congratulations on funding for four more years of this important program!