Qualified Expert Witness Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
In numerous cases, Deena McMahon, LICSW, MSW, has been recognized as a qualified expert witness (QEW) under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). She has regularly worked with Native American children and families throughout her 30-plus year career. She has:
- Provided mental health services to Native American clients in Iowa and Minnesota since the 1980s
- Been designated a preferred provider by Tribal Elders of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
- Trained members of numerous Native American tribes throughout Minnesota on topics such as parenting, brain development, attachment and child development
- Testified as an expert witness in numerous child protection cases involving Native American children
- Served as a forensic expert in a case involving approximately 500 Native American claimants in Montana and Washington who were physically and/or sexually abused as children by members of the Pacific Northwest Jesuits. The $166.1 million settlement in the case is one of the largest ever against a religious organization in the U.S. Ms. McMahon interviewed abuse victims and helped the plaintiff’s attorney understand the harm his clients had suffered due to the trauma of sexual abuse
- Provided training by invitation to Ain Dah Yung, a St. Paul group home for Native American youth
- Presented the key note address at the 2010 White Earth Collaborative Brain Development Conference
- Trained staff at Ranch Ehrlo Society, an agency that primarily serves children from the First Nations Community of Saskatchewan, Canada
The Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted in 1978 to protect Native American children and enhance the stability of Native American tribes. Prior to the creation of the ICWA, Indian children were often removed from their homes and placed in foster or adoptive homes outside of their tribes and cultures. ICWA establishes that the stability of the tribe is as important as the best interest of the child in adoption.
To learn more about Ms. McMahon’s work as a qualified expert witness under ICWA, please contact McMahon Counseling and Consultation Services by email or call (651) 210-0335.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have worked with Deena McMahon for 8 years, in my capacity as Training Coordinator for the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network (MARN). Ms. McMahon has provided training on a wide range of topics to audiences of all types. In the last 5 years she has spoken several times to audiences that were primarily Native American. The first event was in August of 2006, at Prairie’s Edge Casino near Granite Falls, MN, co-sponsored by MN ASAP, the Upper Sioux Community and Yellow Medicine County. Her topic was “Brain Development, Attachment and Family-centered Practice,” attended by 102 professionals. Not a single person left the audience during the entire daylong presentation. … She received ratings of 4.8 out of 5 for knowledge of the topic and ability to engage the audience.
In February of 2007 McMahon provided a daylong training on the same topic to the Fond du Lac tribal community, at their request. Again, feedback following was overwhelmingly positive. The tribe provided lodging at the Cloquet Forestry Center for McMahon and presented gifts to Ms. McMahon.Wendylee Raun, MN ADOPT/Minnesota Adoption Resource Network