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Shirley Cain

Cain a leader in child protection, helping women with addiction

Shirley Cain works to secure the best possible outcomes for children and families in the child protection system. Cain, a longtime tribal attorney with extensive experience handling Indian Child Welfare Act cases, focuses on equity issues and reducing out-of-home placement disparities for American Indians. 
As part of her efforts to keep families together, Cain also works to help mothers who experience addiction and addresses the rising rate of substance-exposed infants. Due to her experience in that area, Cain was recently selected as one of 18 women from across the country to serve as an associate for the 2018 Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute, a program that fosters the growth of emerging leaders in women’s behavioral health services and strengthens their capacity to serve women with substance use and co-occurring disorders.
“My plan is to take all of the resources here that I’m learning, and take it out to the communities and share that with them,” said Cain.
Ultimately, Cain would like to see more women in leadership positions, and hopes that by sharing her experiences with the Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute, she can inspire women to follow her lead.
“That’s one of my dreams and visions throughout this program: What can I do in this program to help women empower themselves in the community?” said Cain. “If the women are empowered, then the men are empowered as well, and the children benefit too.”
As a human services program consultant in the Child Safety and Permanency Division, Cain has worked for the Minnesota Department of Human Services since 2014. She previously served as project director for the Minneapolis American Indian Center. Cain has worked as an attorney, tribal court chief judge, teacher, tribal administrator and advocate for American Indian people. Cain earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Metropolitan State University and a Juris Doctor degree from William Mitchell College of Law (now the Mitchell Hamline School of Law).
Photograph of  Shirley  Cain
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