Document Type



There is a shortage of professionally trained American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) social workers available to provide services including child welfare services to tribal communities. This study used a mixed-model survey design to examine the perceptions of 47 AI/AN BSW and MSW students enrolled in social work programs across the United States to determine the challenges associated with recruitment and retention. The findings are supported in the literature. Findings indicate that social work academic programs have not made substantial gains in the recruitment and retention of AI/AN students over several decades. Students identified the following seven major barriers to successful recruitment and retention: (1) a lack of AI/AN professors; (2) a shortage of field placement agencies that serve AI/AN clients; (3) conflicts between students’ academic obligations and responsibilities to their families and tribal communities; (4) students’ feelings of cultural isolation; (5) the need for AI/AN role models and mentors; (6) a lack of understanding by universities of cultural customs and traditional values; and (7) racism. Implications for policy and practice are offered.


Social Work


This article was previously published by and is deposited with permission from the Child Welfare Journal. Copyright Notice: Copyright of Child Welfare is the property of Child Welfare League of America and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission.

Available from the publisher at

Included in

Social Work Commons