Find resources related to the welfare of our youngest tribal citizens. This website includes information for tribal nations about tribal child welfare programs, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), federal and state laws and regulations, Indian child welfare cases, along with our news blog, ICWA INFO, which provides the latest news for Indian child welfare practitioners.
Brackeen v. Haaland
For decades, ICWA has been recognized by child welfare experts as the gold standard in child welfare practice, and the law has helped tens of thousands of Indian children and families find fairness and healing in state child welfare systems. In the past several years, anti-tribal interests have launched a series of legal challenges against ICWA, with the goal of broadly undermining tribal sovereignty. The most prominent case and challenge to ICWA was Brackeen v. Haaland (formerly Brackeen v. Zinke and Brackeen v. Bernardt). In June 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Haaland v. Brackeen, and in a 7-2 opinion resoundingly affirmed the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act.
The Indian Child Welfare Act
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law enacted in 1978 to protect the well-being and best interests of Indian children and families. It upholds family integrity and stability and keeps Indian children connected to their communities and cultures. It is widely recognized as following best practices and being the gold standard in the field of child welfare.
ICWA also reaffirms the inherent rights of tribal nations to be involved in child welfare matters involving their citizens. It ensure tribes can advocate for the best interest of their tribal members.
Because of ICWA’s strong foundation, many states have enacted similar state legislation to protect Native American families in their community.
To learn more about the details of the law and how it is applied, check out NARF’s “A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act.”
Learn more about how we are defending the law that defends our children in our Summer/Fall 2019 issue of the NARF Legal Review.
ICWA INFO: A Resource for Child Welfare Practitioners
- Native American mothers whose children have been separated from them experience a raw and ongoing grief that has no endNative American mothers whose children were separated from them – either through child removal for assimilation into residential boarding schools or through coerced adoption – experience the kind of grief no parent should … Read more
- Indian Child Welfare Act grants awarded for off-reservation programsThe Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) announced nearly $2 million in grants to support the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in off-reservation communities across the nation. Read the full article at Indianz.com
- A story told in data: Overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the SD foster care systemNative American children are overrepresented in South Dakota’s child welfare system — accounting for nearly 74% of foster children in the state at the end of fiscal year 2023, despite making … Read more
- Adoption of Ursa (and a companion case), November 29, 2023 (Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.)Read the full opinion at the National Indian Law Library website.
- Where the money goes: Foster families get paid, relatives caring for children get nothingA quarter of all foster children in 2021 were placed in kinship care, with Native American children accounting for 53% of the kinship placements, according to the National Data Archive on … Read more
- In the Matter of the Guardianship of L.C., November 13, 2023 (Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1.)Read the full order at the National Indian Law Library website.