For over 10 years, WRMA worked closely with the American Indian Law Center, Inc. (AILC) on several tribal social service improvement projects. This work started when AILC was awarded a grant, with WRMA as subcontractor, from the Office of Human Development Services (OHDS) to conduct capacity-building training with regards to permanency planning of Indian children. Managers of social services agencies were trained in permanency planning and data utilization in three regional training sessions. With funding from the OHDS, the Law Center and WRMA designed a curriculum on decision making skills for Indian social workers. That grant was followed by three additional grants in the areas of management and planning: a grant to transfer planning technologies to tribes and other Indian agencies; a grant to improve the marketing of social service innovations among Indian organizations; and a grant to support the development of family preservation services for Indian children and families. The family preservation services grant was a two-year project which allowed for the design and evaluation of family-based services in two Indian service agencies during the first year and an additional six Indian organizations during the second year.
In addition to their OHDS work, WRMA and AILC conducted a comprehensive needs assessment of the health needs of American Indians in the State of Michigan. This study included regional meetings with Community Health Representatives, DSS Indian Outreach Workers, Title IV-A Staff, MIETA Representatives, staff from the Urban Indian Centers, and other representatives of agencies serving the American Indian community. In addition, staff from the Department of Public Health and the Indian Health Planning and Advisory Council were interviewed. A survey instrument and a sampling plan were developed, reviewed and approved for implementation. Following a pilot test of the survey instrument in five Michigan communities, both on and off reservations, the survey was conducted statewide by the Michigan Department of Public Health.