Fifth Circuit to Rehear Indian Child Welfare Act Challenge

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order directing a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to be reheard en banc — before the entire Fifth Circuit. As previously reported, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit had held ICWA Constitutional in August, finding it was not a race-based statute that would violate the … Read more

US Supreme Court declines to hear Oglala, Rosebud case against South Dakota officials

The Supreme Court didn’t give a reason it declined to hear the case that began in 2013, when the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes and three parents in Pennington County brought a class action lawsuit against state Department of Social Services and Pennington County officials.The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the tribes and parents, alleged that Native American … Read more

Commentary: Appeals Court Affirms Indigenous Children Belong to a Political Class, not Racial

In the 21st century, we are still fighting to protect indigenous children whether it is north or south of the Mexican border. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act was a critical step to keep our families, communities and identities intact. Now, some legal protections need to be … Read more

Fifth Circuit Court Rules that ICWA is Constitutional (Brackeen v. Bernhardt)

United States: Fifth Circuit Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act As Constitutional. Akin Gump (Aug. 14, 2019) Federal District Court of Appeals Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act. Nonprofit Quarterly (Aug. 13, 2019) EDITORIAL: ICWA ruling a victory for tribes. Tahlequah Daily Press. (Aug. 13, 2019) Fifth Circuit Court reaffirms Indian Child Welfare is constitutional. The Ada … Read more

Opinion: Family Ties: A Look at Familial Connections in Adoption & Child Welfare

During her testimony, Representative Smith described her disillusion with some social workers who only look at potential foster and adoptive parents from a European standard; in doing so, Smith stated that they dismiss and diminish cultural norms that are in place to provide positive reinforcements for Native children. Having heard stories of other parents of color involved … Read more

The Fight Over Native American Adoptions Is About More Than Just the Children

Now the [Indian Child Welfare Act] is facing its most serious challenge yet. In a case that has implications far beyond the adoptions of American Indian children, three non-Native families and three Republican state attorneys general have sued the federal government saying that the ICWA relies on racial classifications that violate the equal protection clause … Read more

Opinion: Protecting Native Children, Letter from Oneida Nation Vice Chairman Yellowbird-Stevens

The Indian Child Welfare Act was established to ensure that children benefit from Native families remaining together. Our families should not ever fear the removal of their children from their tribes and their culture. It is in the best interest of Indian children to keep their connections to their culture, communities and extended families. It’s … Read more

How a Right-Wing Attack on Protections for Native American Children Could Upend Indian Law

A LAW KEY  to preventing state welfare agencies from separating Indigenous children from their families is at risk of being overturned thanks to the yearslong effort of a network of libertarian and right-wing organizations. In the 1970s, between a quarter and a third of Indigenous children across the United States had been removed from their … Read more

Who Can Adopt a Native American Child? A Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes

Zachary, or A.L.M. as he is called in legal papers, has a Navajo birth mother, a Cherokee birth father and adoptive parents, Jennifer and Chad Brackeen, neither of whom is Native American. The Brackeens are challenging a federal law governing Native American children in state foster care: It requires that priority to adopt them be given to Native families, to … Read more

US Supreme Court Denies Review of Arizona Child Welfare Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of an Arizona case challenging a law that gives preference to American Indians in adoptions of Native children.The order last week leaves in place a lower court ruling that dismissed a complaint from a Phoenix-based, right-leaning think tank. Read the full article at the Navajo-Hopi Observer. Read related … Read more

Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training (Brimley, MI)

Please join the Bay Mills Indian Community for this multi-disciplinary, tuition-free training geared toward child welfare and domestic violence advocates to implement effective service and advocacy strategies in cases involving child welfare, domestic violence, or both. Minnesota CLEs are available for this training. This training will be in Brimley, Michigan on August 1-2, 2019. For … Read more

Applications Open for Office of Child Care Non-Profit Organization Grants

On April 23, 2019, ACF’s  Office of Child Care (OCC) announced the availability of funds and requested applications for:* American Indian and Native Hawaiian Nonprofit Organization Child Care Grant* Native Hawaiian Nonprofit Organization Child Care Grant Each of these competitive funding opportunity announcements (FOA) provides grant funding for a private, nonprofit organization to provide child care services through … Read more

Funding Opportunity: $3.8 Million for National Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Tribes

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, announced a funding opportunity for the establishment of a national child welfare capacity building center for tribes. The estimated funding available was $3,770,700. Funding opportunity number HHS-2019-ACF-ACYF-CZ-1557 (CFDA 93.648, 93.652, 93.658). Posted on April 19 with an application closing date of June … Read more

Proposed Law Would Make it Easier for Native Americans to Argue their Side in Child Custody Cases

California lawmakers are considering a proposal to make it easier for Native American tribes to make their arguments in child custody cases.Technically, the proposed legislation, AB 686, would let lawyers or other representatives of Native American tribes appear by phone or electronically in cases involving the possible removal of Native American children from their families … Read more

Announcing the First Comprehensive Study on Child Removal in Native Communities

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, First Nations Repatriation Institute, and the University of Minnesota are pleased to announce the launch of our study: Child Removal in Native Communities. This is an anonymous survey about American Indian and Alaskan Native experiences and impacts of child removal to #BreakTheSilence and #BeginTheHealing. … If you are … Read more

Who Should Get to Adopt Native American Children?

Another way that ICWA differs from conventional child welfare laws is that it mandates “active efforts” to keep children with their families or tribe. In most regular child protection cases, social-service workers are obligated to provide “reasonable efforts” to help parents and children reunify, such as offering lists of treatment facilities, therapists, affordable-housing agencies or … Read more

American Indian Adoptees Deal with Painful Past and Family Separations

Despite these challenges, Native American adoptees continue to lead a resilient fight both inside and outside the child welfare system to address disparities, often by providing support systems and advocates beyond what county or state governments offer families. And Native-led organizations hold the government accountable, ensuring that agencies and courts properly uphold ICWA and honor … Read more

Trump Administration Forms Presidential Task Force for Protecting Native Children in IHS

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System.A senior administration official hosted a White House conference call, and released statements to the media which outlined that President Trump has “charged the task force with investigating the institutional and systemic … Read more

Appeals Court Hears Case on Adoptions of Native Americans

 1978 law giving preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings involving American Indian children is an unconstitutional race-based intrusion on state powers that has caused families to be “literally torn apart,” an attorney told a federal appeals court March 13.But supporters of the decades-old law say it’s needed to protect and … Read more

Latest Edition of ABA book Outlines New Regulations of the Indian Child Welfare Act

The American Bar Association’s recently published book, “The Indian Child Welfare Act Handbook: A Legal Guide to the Custody and Adoption of Native American Children, Third Edition,” focuses on the new federal regulations of the ICWA and important cases decided during the last 10 years. Authors Kelly Gaines-Stoner, Mark C. Tilden and Jack F. Trope … Read more

Colorado is Out of Compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act

Colorado is out of compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, which requires courts make an effort to place Native American children in state custody with tribal or Native homes. House Bill 1232, co-sponsored by Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, offers minor fixes to Colorado laws for administering ICWA. “This proposed law writes into Colorado law … Read more

Stateline: Indian Child Welfare Act Likely Headed to Supreme Court

A case before a federal appeals court could upend an historic adoption law meant to combat centuries of brutal discrimination against American Indians and keep their children with families and tribal communities.For the first time, a few states have sued to overturn the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which Congress enacted in 1978 as an antidote to … Read more

Fawn Sharp: The Attack on the Indian Child Welfare Act Cannot Stand & Louisiana Solicitor General Commentary “absurd and illogical”

With the fate of the Indian Child Welfare Act in the hands of a federal appeals courts, tribes and some states have come together to defend the law, which Congress enacted in 1978 to address the high rates of Indian children being taken from their families and their communities. Read the full opinion piece at the Indianz.com … Read more

Media Coverage of Fifth Circuit Hearing in Brackeen v. Bernhardt

Non-Indians think they know better than Indians what is best for Native American children, said lawyers for the Navajo Nation in arguments before a federal appeals court.It’s a bold argument, but goes to the heart of the case in Brackeen v. Bernhardt. Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, Indian tribes have priority over non-Indians in Native … Read more

Utah Signs Inter-Governmental Agreement to Support Navajo Families

February 5, 2019Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes met with the leadership of the Navajo Nation, reported on the proceedings of the ICWA lawsuit, and signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (between DCFS & Navajo Nation) with Governor Gary R. Herbert. The Agreement is the result of a two-year process working with the Navajo Nation on the … Read more

Tribal Adoption Parity Act Reintroduced

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, John Hoeven, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Tom Udall and Jerry Moran reintroduced the bipartisan Tribal Adoption Parity Act legislation that would bring parity to tribal government for the adoption tax credit. Read the full article at the Minot … Read more

Assessing An NPR Report On The Indian Child Welfare Act

A Dec. 17 report on All Things Considered about the Indian Child Welfare Act prompted harsh criticism from the Native American Journalists Association, which called it “inaccurate and imprecise.” A meeting between NAJA leaders and NPR editors resulted in a clarification being posted on the online version of the piece, but NAJA members continued to have concerns about the reporting.  Read … Read more

2018 ICWA by the Numbers

There were 206 appealed ICWA cases this year, down 7 from last year. However, there were 50 reported cases this year, which is nearly 20 more than last year. As always, California leads the states with 125 cases, 9 were reported. Alaska is second with 11, 3 reported. Montana had 10, including 7 reported, which is up considerably … Read more

Overwhelming Support for ICWA

Joint Press Release from National Native Organizations on the Overwhelming Support for the Indian Child Welfare Act Available at https://www.narf.org/icwa-brackeen/. (Portland, Ore., January 18, 2019)—On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 325 tribal nations, 57 Native organizations, 21 states, 31 child welfare organizations, Indian and constitutional law scholars, and seven members of Congress joined the United States … Read more

Adoption didn’t solve the ‘Indian Problem’

An author recounts how 1960s policies ripped apart families and communities, including her own. An essay from author Susan Harness about her memoir, Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption. Read the full article at the High Country News website.

Cronkite News: Tribes on ‘Pins and Needles’ in Indian Child Welfare Act Case

The Indian Child Welfare Act requires that Native American children be placed in Native American foster or adoptive homes, where possible, to maintain their heritage and identity.The law is being challenged with increasing regularity in courts and by special-interest groups who contend it prioritizes race over a child’s best interest.In October, U.S. District Judge Reed … Read more

Udall, Heinrich Hail Senate Passage of Resolution Recognizing 40th Anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare

[Dec. 13, 2018]WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Martin Heinrich praised the Senate passage of a bicameral resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and recognizing its importance to promoting the stability and security of Tribal communities and families.  Read the full press release at … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act Remains in Force after Appeals Court Order (Brackeen v. Zinke)

A federal appeals court granted a stay requested by the four tribes on Monday to preserve the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act. “The law is going to stay the same for now,” said Dan Lewerenz, one of the attorneys working on the Brackeen v. Zinke case. That means Native American families will stay together under the law. Read … Read more

‘Dawnland’ Documents Untold Story of Native American Child Removal in the U.S.

“Dawnland” is premiering on the PBS series Independent Lens, as part of November Native American Heritage Month programming. The investigation by the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission represented a groundbreaking moment in the history of tribal-state relations and its goal was to uncover and acknowledge the truth about what happened to Wabanaki … Read more

Responses to ICWA Court Ruling

Treppa: Why the ICWA is critical to the health of native children and tribal communities SHERRY TREPPA POSTED ON WEDNESDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2018 A Texas judge’s recent decision to strike down the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, sets a dangerous precedent that unravels federal policy carefully designed to correct centuries of tragic injustices committed … Read more

Court Strikes Down Landmark Indian Child Welfare Act Ruling

A federal appeals court has delivered a major blow to tribes and parents who have been seeking stronger enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota.The Oglala Sioux Tribe, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and three Indian parents went to court more than five years ago, alarmed by the large numbers of Indian children being taken from their families. They … Read more

Trump Administration Delays New Child Welfare Data Rules Until 2020, But Plans Changes to Obama Plan

In 2016, the Obama administration finalized AFCARS rules that would for the first time require states to track information related to, among other subjects, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the disruption of adoptions and guardianships, education stability and sexual orientation. Read the full article at the Chronicle of Social Change website.

Appeals court won’t rule on challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act

A federal appeals court has turned away a closely-watched conservative challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act.The Goldwater Institute sued the federal government and the state of Arizona, arguing that ICWA is racist because it only applies to “Indian” children. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to rule on the merits of the claim because a panel of … Read more

Glendive Woman Sues Over Child Custody Dispute That Put Tribal, Minnesota Courts at Odds

A Glendive woman is suing the Bureau of Indian Affairs for $1 million over a 2015 child custody dispute that pitted state and tribal courts against each other. Patsy Fercho, 64, fled to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 2015 with her two grandchildren in an attempt to avoid a Minnesota court’s order granting custody to … Read more

Tribe Signs Funding Agreement to Expand Child Welfare Services

Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida) entered into a Support Services Funding Agreement with the State of Alaska’s Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), Office of Children’s Services (OCS) to conduct diligent relative and Indian Child Welfare Act preference searches. Read the full article at the Alaska … Read more

Miccosukee Tribe Ties Child Welfare Case to Violence Against Women

The Miccosukee Tribe is defending its handling of a child welfare case that has drawn national attention.The tribe said a newborn was taken from her mother, a Miccosukee citizen, in order to protect the baby girl and her older siblings from domestic violence. The mother had previously been victimized by her non-Indian former partner, whose presence at … Read more

5-year-old Native American Boy to Remain in Ohio for Now

A 5-year-old Native American boy at the center of controversy for more than a year will remain with his Coshocton County foster family, for now. Last week, the Ohio Court of Appeals reversed an earlier juvenile court ruling that would have sent the preschooler 2,000 miles from his home to a reservation in Arizona. The ruling stated the juvenile court should … Read more

New Indian Child Welfare Act Challenges On The Horizon

Two types of challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq., now feature prominently: equal protection challenges and challenges based on the “intrafamily dispute” exception to ICWA. A petition for a writ of certiorari to decide both issues is currently pending in one such case: S.S. v. Stephanie H. … Read more

Supreme Court Turns Away Another Conservative Attack on Indian Child Welfare Act

Without comment, the justices on Tuesday denied a petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County. The move, which came in an order list, ends a lawsuit which claimed ICWA was based on “race” and should be declared unconstitutional. Read the full article at the Indianz website.

Court Hears Tribal Challenge to South Dakota Child Removals

A lawyer representing two American Indian tribes urged a federal appeals court Tuesday to keep in place the changes a judge ordered for a South Dakota county’s system of removing children from homes in endangerment cases. Read the full article at the ABC News website. Read related coverage at the Indianz website.

State Begins Transfer of Child Welfare Services to Tribal Communities

The Office of Children’s Services and tribal governments are taking the first steps to implement an agreement that transfers control of welfare services for Alaska Native children from the state to a group of 18 tribal governments and organizations. Read the full article at the Peninsula Clarion website.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Written Advisement Form Does Not Satisfy ICWA Notice Requirements

The Department contended that mother’s signing of a written advisement of her rights, which included a question about the ICWA, served as the court’s initial inquiry. The inquiry should be made on the record. Regardless, the Court of Appeals found that the Department failed to send notice to the appropriate tribes when mother identified a … Read more

South Dakota’s Federal ICWA Ruling Heads To 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

The Indian Child Welfare Act lawsuit filed in Rapid City’s federal court almost five years ago is going to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel is hearing oral arguments in St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, Feb. 12. In March 2013, the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, as well as tribal parents, brought … Read more

Rep. Rendon Supports Bill to Allow Tribal Representatives Access to Documents

State Rep. Daire Rendon has voted with the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee to give tribal social services access to certain records that would allow them to communicate with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for the best interest of children in their tribe. Read the full press release at the Michigan … Read more

For the Children: Oklahoma Inter-tribal Task Force Tackles Policy Solutions

On December 14th, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) hosted its first Indian Child Welfare Task Force meeting. This gathering brought together inter-tribal and state agencies with a focus on respecting the government-to-government relationship the State of Oklahoma has with each of the 38 federally recognized tribal nations headquartered in our state. Read the … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act Under Attack Again as Conservative Group Submits Appeal to Supreme Court

The conservative Goldwater Institute is attacking the Indian Child Welfare Act again.The group has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an ICWA case from California. The petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County claims the 1978 law is based on “race” and should be deemed unconstitutional. Read the full article at the Indianz.com website.

Historic Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact Signed

Alaska Governor Bill Walker used an appearance Thursday at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in Anchorage to sign a historic compact between the State of Alaska, tribes, and tribal organizations. The compact will allow tribes and tribal organizations to provide child welfare services and programs that previously were delivered by the Alaska Office … Read more

Supreme Court Won’t Take up Race-Based Challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition in S.S. v. Colorado River Indian Tribes. The action, which came in an order list on Monday morning, lets stand a decision from Arizona, where opponents of ICWA tried to undermine the landmark law by claiming it is based on “race.” The Arizona Court of Appeals … Read more

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Conference on Child Welfare and the Courts Seeks Innovative Solutions to Complex Problems Facing Today’s Children And Families

Madison, Wis. (Oct. 16, 2017) – More than 350 court, child welfare, school, tribal representatives, and legal professionals from across Wisconsin will join forces Oct. 18-20 in Elkhart Lake to find better ways to serve youth and their families involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Read the full article at WisPolitics.com.

2017 Report on Disproportionality of Placements of Indian Children

Research and data from states tell us that American  Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children are disproportionately represented (or overrepresented) in the child welfare system nationwide, especially in foster care. This means that higher  percentages of AI/AN children are found in the child welfare system than in the general population. The overrepresentation of AI/AN children often starts … Read more

New court to connect Native American foster kids with family

Bonnie Littlesun is raising eight children, all but one of whom are her grandkids, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “They’re crazy,” she said, laughing. It was midmorning and she had a brief break while her grandbaby slept and the others were at school. The kids range in age from 13 months to … Read more

ND Child Support Program Recognized for Collaboration With Tribal Child Support Programs

The North Dakota Department of Human Services’ Child Support Division recently received the 2017 Partnership Award from the National Tribal Child Support Association for its collaboration with tribal child support programs in accessing federal offset payments that support tribal children and  families. “Partnerships with other jurisdictions are vital in child support. Borders shouldn’t be barriers … Read more

Stealing Children: A Look at Indigenous Child Removal Policies

“So they turned to this policy of trying to close down the boarding schools and they turned toward a policy of trying to turn over the education and care of Indian children to the states,” says Jacobs. While there were some American Indians working for the BIA in the ‘50s and some sympathy to the … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act Conference set for Thursday at Choctaw

The seventh annual Indian Child Welfare Act Conference is scheduled Thursday at the Silver Star Convention Center at Choctaw. Tribal leaders and as many as 200 attorneys, judges, social workers and other professionals who deal with Native American children in a youth court setting are expected to attend the conference. Read the full article at the … Read more

Tribal Nations Shift ICWA Focus During National Foster Care Month

In recognition of the tireless advocacy of the many child welfare workers, foster parents, volunteers and family members who care for Native children in state custody, tribal nations have been promoting National Foster Care Month to raise awareness about the need for more Native foster homes in the United States. Read the full article at … Read more

ABA Conferences to Address Child Welfare Developments (Virginia)

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2017 — Lawyers, judges, social workers and advocates will explore developments in the children’s law field during four conferences sponsored by the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law the week of April 24. Among the topics covered will be immigration, psychotropic medications, the Indian Child Welfare Act, child sex … Read more

 A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Trying to Bring Down the Indian Child Welfare Act. Why?

Cloaking its efforts in the language of civil rights, Goldwater has launched a coordinated attack against ICWA alongside evangelical and anti-Indian-sovereignty groups, adoption advocates, and conservative organizations like the Cato Institute. Since 2015, Goldwater has litigated four state or federal cases against ICWA, and filed several briefs in support of other cases. Goldwater’s stated goal … Read more

Butte County (SD) sees upsurge in Indian Child Welfare Act cases

Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt presented to the Butte County Commission during its March 21 meeting, delineating to the commission the county’s rise in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases and the added expense the county has shouldered in recent months. Read the full article at the Black Hills Pioneer website.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Dependency and Neglect Court Should Have Followed ICWA’s Notice Requirements

On appeal, A.T. contended that the order should be reversed because the Department did not comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) notice requirements. First, when there is “reason to know” the child is an Indian child, the juvenile court must ensure that the Department sends notice to any identified Indian Tribe. Second, the … Read more

Opinion: An Indian Child Welfare Act Disappointment: Lack of Support from Tribe

This past Monday morning (March 13) in a courtroom in Alameda County I witnessed three non-Native attorneys and a non-Native judge make the decision to end reunification and move towards terminating Allen Kepa’s parental rights. It was a broken day for Native American children and Native American Parents. The Honorable Judge Ursula Jones spoke about … Read more

Court rejects challenge to law safeguarding Native children and families

March 17 – Yesterday, the federal District Court for the District of Arizona dismissed A.D. v. Washburn, a case brought by the Goldwater Institute challenging the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) application to Native children in the Arizona foster care system. This case was an attempt by a special interest group to dismantle the law … Read more

Alaska Tribal Court Selected to Participate in NCJFCJ’s Implementation Sites Project

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has selected the Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Child Dependency Court as one of six new courts to join their Implementation Sites Project, which helps to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children and their families. Read the full article at … Read more

In South Dakota, Officials Defied a Federal Judge and Took Indian Kids Away From Their Parents in Rigged Proceedings

In March 2015, Chief Federal District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Viken confirmed what our complaint had alleged: State employees were removing children from their homes and then holding hearings in state court within 48 hours, in which parents were not assigned counsel to represent them, were not given a copy of the petition accusing them … Read more

Indian Child Welfare and Wellness conference to be held Feb. 22-24 (ND)

The Indian Child Welfare and Wellness Conference will be held Feb. 22-24 at the Baymont Inn and Suites in Mandan. The Native American Training Institute will host the 16th annual conference, which will cover child welfare issues, juvenile justice, cultural and tribal relations, as well as child behavioral health. Read the full announcement at the … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Court in Duluth Aims for Better Outcomes for Native American Families

Two years ago, Tarnowski attended a training in Duluth given by the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues. Stories of historical trauma that have helped lead to that disparity, and also what led to the creation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, were shared, Tarnowski said, creating “a little fire in … Read more

State Pledges $400,000 to Reduce Number of Indian Children in Foster Care (MN)

With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching “unacceptable” levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a Star Tribune report found that Minnesota has more Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with … Read more

State, County Officials Appeal Ruling on Native Children Case

South Dakota and Pennington County officials filed an appeal Friday challenging U.S. District Court rulings that ordered changes in their handling of temporary custody hearings involving Native American children. Read the full article at the Rapid City Journal website. Read a related article at the Native Sun News website.

NICWA Releases New Online Intro to ICWA Course

National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) has released a new online Introduction to ICWA course. It features the basics of ICWA, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ guidelines published December 12, 2016. The course uses an interactive platform designed to keep the learner engaged through teachings on the basics provisions of ICWA, case scenarios for … Read more

Information about the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) final rule was published in the Federal Register on June 2, 2016. The CCWIS final rule replaces the Statewide/Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS/TACWIS) requirements to address changes in child welfare practice and advances in information technology that have occurred since the regulations were published in 1993. … Read more

UMD Leads American Indian Child Welfare Act Project (MN)

UMD’s Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies, which is part of the Department of Social Work, will serve as the grant’s lead organization and will work with six other organizations including courts, child welfare agencies, and tribes, to determine the most successful methods to help children and families. Read the full announcement at … Read more

Native Tradition a Vital Part of Advocate’s Strategy

“The important thing to remember is that you’re not saving these children,” Walksalong said. “You’re helping them.” Walksalong began in October working as CASA’s Indian Child Welfare Act program coordinator. Part of her job is helping programs like the Center for Children and Families and Child and Family Services, understand the cultural background of Native American … Read more

Applications Now Accepted for 2017 Funding

From the National Indian Child Welfare Association: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is accepting applications for Systems of Care grants to support mental health services and systems for children, youth, and families in tribal communities. The purpose of this infrastructure program is to provide tribal communities with the tools and resources to … Read more

Utah tribal leaders address the protection of Native American children

Utah tribal leaders gathered in the community of Wendover, Utah to discuss issues that would affect tribes at the state and national level, such as the Indian Child Welfare Act and voting issues that includes inefficient polling sites and a lack of language interpreters to aid non-English speaking Navajo people in San Juan County, Utah. … Read more

Girls Caught in Custody Battle After Parents are Killed in Head-On Collision

The children have recovered from their injuries, but they now are innocent victims of a custody battle that pits their relatives in Visalia, Calif., against relatives in the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians in Placerville, Calif. The case in U.S. District Court in Sacramento is being closely watched because a federal judge has ruled … Read more

UND Receives Funding to Develop ICWA Training and Implementation Support

The University of North Dakota Department of Social Work has received a $2.4-million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support implementation and evaluation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in North Dakota over the next five years. UND is partnering in this grant with the Children and Family Services … Read more

Tribes Suing OCS Director and North Star Seek Quicker Court Oversight of Foster Children

The tribes, represented by Alaska Legal Services Corp., had alleged defendants North Star Behavioral Health Center and Christy Lawton, director of the Alaska Office Children’s Services, had improperly warehoused foster children at the [psychicatric hospital] facility for indefinite periods of time. Read the full article at the Alaska Dispatch News website.

Group to Protest Goldwater Institute’s Anti-ICWA Suit in Phoenix

The case has angered many within the American Indian adult adoptee community, who believe the law should be upheld and strengthened. Their protest on Friday is one of many protests across the country as the litigation moves forward. Read the full article at the Indian Country Today Media Network website.

Implementing and Defending the Indian Child Welfare Act Through Revised State Requirements

The issuances by the Department of the Interior of non-binding guidelines in 2015 and of legislative rules in 2016 are opportunities for states to promptly examine their current practices and standards and voluntarily adopt the guidelines and regulations as enforceable state requirements. New York State is an example of a state that has evidenced support … Read more

Families, Tribes, and the Indian Child Welfare Act (Essay series from Cato Unbound)

The  Indian Child Welfare act is a unique piece of legislation that governs the settlement of family law cases for children of Native American descent. Critics allege, however, that its definition of who counts as a Native American, as well as several other aspects of the law, can often work against children’s best interests. The … Read more

Matthew Fletcher: The Next U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s Impact On The Indian Child Welfare Act

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death impacts Indian country in dramatic ways. Last term, the most critical tribal court jurisdiction appeal to hit the Supreme Court of the United States in decades was affirmed by a 4-4 tie in favor of tribal jurisdiction. The court declined certiorari in a pair of tribal labor relations cases where there was a gaping circuit split, possibly … Read more

Gila River Indian Community Weighs Options After Losing Indian Child Welfare Act Case

Although the proceeding only involved one child, it’s being closely watched because the non-Indian foster couple is being represented by the Goldwater Institute. The conservative-leaning organization, which is based in Arizona, has launched a public relations and legal campaign aimed at undermining and even invalidating the landmark Indian Child Welfare Act. Read the full article … Read more

Arizona Court Upholds Adoption by Non-Indian Family

Over the objections of a tribe, the state Court of Appeals has allowed a non-Indian family to adopt the child of a Native American mother. Read the full article at the Arizona Daily Sun website. See also “Arizona court rejects tribe’s appeal in girl’s adoption case” at the AZFamily.com website.

Walker Signs Two Bills into Law

Gov. Bill Walker has signed into law bills intended to help foster youths and ease adoption in Alaska. Among other elements, House Bill 200 implements portions of the Indian Child Welfare Act that ease the adoption process for tribal members adopting a child of the same tribe. The bill also allows up to four legal … Read more

DOI Announces Trainings on New ICWA Regulations

Dear Tribal Leader: We would like to invite you and/or your child welfare designee to trainings on the recently published final regulations governing the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The final ICWA rule was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 2016 (see 81 Fed. Reg. 38778), and takes effect on December 12, 2016. … Read more

California Appeals Court Rules in Favor of ICWA Placement Preference in R.P. et al. v. J.E. et al.

On Friday, July 8, 2016, the Court of Appeal of the State of California – Second Appellate District upheld a lower court’s decision in R.P. et al. v. J.E. et al. that used the Indian Child Welfare Act as its basis to remove a four-year-old female child from her non-Native foster family. We have twice … Read more

NICWA to Host Webinar on ICWA Regulations

From the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA): The National Indian Child Welfare Association is pleased to announce that we are hosting an informational webinar on the newly announced Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations on Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 12:30 p.m. Pacific/3:30 p.m. Eastern. On June 8, 2016, the Bureau of Indian Affairs … Read more

Media Coverage of the New ICWA Regulations

Interior Secretary Says Changes To Indian Child Welfare Act ‘Close Loopholes.’ Oregon Public Broadcasting. June 10, 2016. BIA announces final ICWA rule revisions. Native Times. June 9, 2010. Breaking: BIA Publishes Final ICWA Rule. Indian Country Today. June 8, 2010. Judges must ask about youths’ tribal status under new rule. Salon.com (AP). June 8, 2016.

Judge in South Dakota Sanctioned in Indian Child Welfare Act Case

A judge in South Dakota has agreed to pay $50,000 in sanctions in an Indian Child Welfare Act case. Judge Jeff Davis did not admit to “concealing” information sought by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, two of the plaintiffs in the case. But he agreed to pay attorney’s fees for failing … Read more

Tester Introduces Major Legislation to Help Indian Country Fight Growing Drug Epidemic

Tester’s bill, the Tribal Youth and Community Protection Act, will reestablish the ability for tribes to arrest and prosecute any offender for drug related crimes, domestic violence against children, and crimes committed against tribal law enforcement officers. “Tribal communities must have every tool they need to protect themselves from folks who traffic illegal drugs and … Read more

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch Speaks at the National Indian Child Welfare Association Conference

This is a critical time for Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), our nation’s keystone federal law protecting Indian children.  As you’ve already heard this morning and will hear more about during the conference, there is a lot of exciting activity in this area, at the federal, state and tribal level.  Federal engagement is at unprecedented levels.  But … Read more

Alaska Supreme Court Orders State to Enforce Tribal Child Support Orders as Essential

In a major decision on child support, the Alaska Supreme Court stopped a Parnell administration effort against tribal rights that lingered during Gov. Bill Walker’s reign. The court ruled unanimously Friday in a case going back to the beginning of the decade that tribes have authority over child support. The court directed the state to enforce … Read more

NAJA Calls for Ethical, Informed ICWA Reporting

The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) is disheartened by some of the mainstream reporting on the recent adoption case involving a Choctaw Nation child and a non-Native adoptive couple in Los Angeles County. Read the full article at the Indian Country Today Media Network website.

Indian Children’s Law in Choctaw Foster Case Praised by Some, Criticized by Others

A California couple’s fight to reunite with a 6-year-old foster child who was taken from their home last week because she is 1/64th Choctaw Native American has cast a spotlight on the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law has been long hailed as a protective tool for Native American communities by some and criticized as … Read more

Historic Agreement Gives Tribe Foster Care Control: Jurisdiction Over Child Welfare to Transfer from State to Tlingit and Haida Central Council

When children are taken out of their homes due to neglect or abuse, they’re under the responsibility and jurisdiction of the State Office of Children’s Services. Now, through an agreement signed Wednesday night at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall between the State of Alaska and Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, … Read more

Victory for Tribes as Judge Reaffirms South Dakota Decision

Citing a “fundamental lack of competence,” a federal judge on Friday, February 19 denied South Dakota’s motion to reconsider an earlier decision, which found the state violated the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and denied Indian parents their Constitutional rights. In March 2015, Judge Jeffrey Viken issued a partial summary judgment in favor of the … Read more

ICWA: Victory for Tribes as Judge Reaffirms South Dakota Decision

The class action case is now in its third year, having been filed in March 2013 by three Indian mothers and the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes in South Dakota to address ongoing violations in that state. According to tribal officials and advocacy groups, approximately 750 Indian children a year are swept into foster care, … Read more

Title IV-E Conference Calls Scheduled for March 8th and 10th

From the National Indian Child Welfare Association: On February 12, 2016, the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced two tribal consultation calls regarding a new round of Title IV-E Foster Care program development grants. Title IV-E funds placement activities related to foster care, relative guardianship, adoption, and independent living services. … Read more

Report: States’ Consultation and Collaboration with Tribes and Reported Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act

from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ana/news/report-states-consultation-and-collaboration-with-tribes: The Children’s Bureau conducted a review of the states’ 2015–2019 Child and Family Services Plans (CFSP) and prepared a report titled “States’ Consultation and Collaboration with Tribes and Reported Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act: Information from States’ and Tribes’ 2015–2019 Child and Family Services Plans.”  This report was prepared in response … Read more

It Takes a Tribe: ICWA Under Assault (Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker)

America’s multibillion-dollar adoption industry and its allies seek to undermine ICWA’s enforcement by filing lawsuits they hope to take to the Supreme Court. If successful, the lawsuits would deny tribes of their right — and their duty — to look after the welfare of their children. Read the full letter from Chief Baker at the … Read more

Film Explores Native American Child Displacement

Rucinski & Reetz Communication unveiled last week its video titled “Missing Threads: The Story of the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act.” The hour-long documentary represents nearly three years of work and “explores the connection between family, tribal culture and children, and the consequences of severing those ties,” said Susan Reetz, a partner in the communication firm. Read … Read more

Federal Judge Dismisses Anti-ICWA Suit

On Thursday a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia dismissed a suit challenging both the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the new federal guidelines that were implemented last February by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, citing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction and standing in the case. Read the full … Read more

Conference Focuses on ICWA

Tekamuk Training and Events, a wholly-owned enterprise of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians, has joined forces with Columbia Law School, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National American Indian Judges Association to present the Indian Child Welfare Summit, a major national conference on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), December 7-9 … Read more

Disenrollment from Pala Band Affects Children in ICWA Case

Two children who were disenrolled by the Pala Band of Mission Indians cannot be protected by the Indian Child Welfare Act, a California appeals court ruled on Tuesday.   The tribe formally objected in July 2009 when K.P. and Kristopher were put up for adoption. Their mother, Michelle T., is enrolled.   But sometime during … Read more

S. Rept. 114-37 – Amending the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act…

The failure to protect children has a damaging impact on the quality of life on Indian reservations. Native youth are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of abuse or neglect than youth of other ethnicities. Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic … Read more

Congress Should Bolster Jurisdiction of Tribal Courts Over Violence Against Children, ABA Urges

The [American Bar Association] ABA is urging Congress to follow the recommendations of recent reports by the U.S. Justice Department and the Indian Law and Order Commission that call for giving American Indian and Alaska Native tribes more authority to exercise criminal jurisdiction and apply their own remedies in cases that occur on tribal lands, … Read more

State, Feds Defend Tribal Adoption Law

In court filings Friday, attorneys for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state Department of Child Safety federal agency acknowledged the Indian Child Welfare Act does require state courts when placing Indian children for adoption to give preference to a member of the child’s extended family. That is followed by priority by other members … Read more

Tribes Awarded $1.8M for Child Welfare and TANF Coordination

HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance awarded $1.8 million to eight tribes and tribal organizations in Alaska, Montana, California and Washington to help strengthen vulnerable families through the tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) child welfare coordination grants.  The grants fund tribes to demonstrate models of effective coordination between tribal … Read more

Couples Sue Over Tribal Adoption Hurdles

For nearly four decades, couples wishing to adopt American Indian children out of troubled situations have faced several hurdles, including giving the child’s tribe a chance to find suitable tribal parents first. Now some prospective adoptive parents, Indian birthparents and members of the adoption industry are challenging the laws and regulations involved. Read the excerpt … Read more

NICWA Conference: 34th Annual Protecting Our Children (April 3-6, 2016 | St. Paul, Minnesota)

This annual conference will include the following tracks: Data and Research: Learn about current research in the fields of Indian child welfare, children’s mental health, and youth development. Learn how to use and share data. Child Welfare, Foster Care, and Adoption Services: From grant writing for child welfare programs to implementing differential response and identifying … Read more

Pala Band of Mission Indians Will be First Tribe to Protect Native American Children in California’s Welfare System

The Pala Band of Mission Indians is the first tribe in California to receive clearance to conduct LiveScan background checks for tribal foster homes under new State law (Senate Bill 1460). The tribe is also the first to apply to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) program, Purpose Code X, to … Read more

UA Researchers Release New Findings in Tribal Child Welfare Study

The Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona and the National Indian Child Welfare Association have released a report detailing the second part of a study on tribal welfare codes designed to protect children and youth…. Based on the study’s findings, the team affirms that: ·      To help protect children from abuse and neglect, … Read more

AVCP Panel Offers Solutions for Tribal-State Child Welfare

Oct. 1, 2015. Keeping tribal children in their tribal communities is the solution to improving regional child welfare, according to a Tribal-State Child Welfare panel yesterday during the Association of Village Council Presidents 51st Annual Convention at the Bethel Cultural Center. Read the full article at the Alaska Public Media website.

Study of Coordination of Tribal TANF and Child Welfare Services: Interim Findings Report

From the website of the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation; Office of the Administration for Children and Families; U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services: Fourteen tribes and tribal organizations received demonstration grants from the Office of Family Assistance for Coordination of Tribal TANF and Child Welfare Services to Tribal Families in 2011. The … Read more

Omaha Tribe of Nebraska Plans Native Foster Care System to Preserve Culture

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the tribe a $300,000 grant to create an independent tribal-run family services program for enrolled Omaha members. “We know what’s best for our children and our youth,” Omaha Tribal Council Chairman Vernon Miller said Thursday. “The federal government recognizes that.” Read the full … Read more

Opinion: George Will Gets It All Wrong in His Attack on ICWA

Race is ugly business. The business of race can be seen in the higher rates of incarceration of black Americans. It is in the higher rates black Americans and Native Americans are killed by law enforcement. It is an aspect of our existence that we created, and one that has no basis in fact. George … Read more

Responses to George Will’s September 3rd Op-Ed Article on ICWA

When we talk about “blood-stained” laws, we should talk about the history of the treatment of Native Americans: laws of genocide, sterilization, forced removal and assimilation; compulsory boarding schools; underfunding of critical health care; and a trail of broken promises. Read the full letter at the Washington Post website. And a related Letter to the … Read more

Opinion: The Blood-Stained Indian Child Welfare Act

By treating children, however attenuated or imaginary their Indian ancestry, as little trophies for tribal power, the ICWA discourages adoptions by parents who see only children, not pawns of identity politics. The Goldwater Institute hopes to establish the right of Indian children to be treated as all other children are, rather than as subordinate to … Read more

CASA Sets Fall Child Advocate Training (Oklahoma)

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Cherokee Country is a local volunteer program that recruits and trains community volunteers to serve as advocates for abused and neglected children in juvenile deprived proceedings, an volunteers are greatly needed….CASA volunteer child advocate training will be offered to individuals age 21 or older in October. Certification will be … Read more

Assistant Secretary Washburn Announces a New Program to Assist Tribal Social Services Agencies in Placing Children in Homes (updated)

Aug. 19, 2015 – Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced a new Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) program to assist federally recognized tribal social services agencies seeking to place children in safe homes. Read the full press release at the U.S. Department of the Interior website. The Bureau … Read more

ABA House of Delegates Urges Quick Implementation of Recommendations of Attorney General Taskforce

On August 4, 2015, the American Bar Association House of Delegates unanimously adopted Resolution 113, which adopts and urges prompt implementation by the Administration, Congress, and state and tribal governments of specific recommendations contained in the November 2014 report of the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence… Read … Read more

14th Annual Native Nations Law Symposium

September 11, 2015 (White Cloud, KS): 14th Annual Native Nations Law Symposium. The Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska presents the 14th annual Native Nations Law Symposium. The symposium includes an overview on the Indian Child Welfare Act – Revised Bureau of Indian Affairs Guidelines for State Courts & Agencies. Learn … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Summit (Albuquerque, NM)

This must-attend conference will address the past, present and future of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, emphasizing the need for education, reform and implementation of the Act. Tribal leaders, tribal members and professionals in the legal field will benefit from this comprehensive conference. Learn more at the Mesa Grand Band of Mission Indians … Read more

Washtenaw (MI) Trial Court Celebrates Reunification Day

“We want to spend a moment to celebrate the successful reunification of families in foster care and honor the professionals who work in this field,” Sankaran began. “This is one of many celebrations across the country but the only one in the state. We are proud as a community to put together this event and … Read more

Michelle Obama to Native American Youth: The Country Needs You

More than 1,000 Native American children gathered Thursday for the first-ever Tribal Youth Gathering at the White House, where first lady Michelle Obama called them precious and sacred members of society. “Each of you was put on this Earth for a reason. Each of you has something that you’re destined to do, whether that’s raising a beautiful family, whether that’s … Read more

War of Words: ICWA Faces Multiple Assaults From Adoption Industry

“At this point it is pretty clear that anti-ICWA advocates, who primarily represent adoption interests, have started a coordinated attack on ICWA,” said Kate Fort, Staff Attorney and Adjunct Professor for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law. “They are looking for cases of opportunity in courts across the … Read more

Goldwater Institute Files Anti-ICWA Case

This complaint goes directly at the right of tribes to determine their tribal citizenry. From this paragraph on, the complaint bases everything on the “child’s race” or “Indian ancestry” and their “unequal treatment” under ICWA… Read more and find the complaint at the Turtle Talk blog. Find case updates at this Turtle Talk blog page.

ALERT: Online Press Conference Tuesday, July 7

What:  Press conference announcing anti-ICWA lawsuit and campaign When:  Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 9:00 a.m. Pacific time Where: https://www.youtube.com/user/GoldwaterInstitute Who:  Goldwater Institute representatives From the press release: Goldwater Institute to File Class Action Lawsuit Against Indian Child Welfare Act Phoenix—Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 7, the Goldwater Institute will launch a new project to reform the Indian Child … Read more

TRC Report Asserts Cultural Genocide Practiced in Maine

The final report of the Maine Wabanaki‑State Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was released at a closing ceremony on June 14 in Hermon. In their letter in the final report, the five commissioners… state that to improve Native child welfare, Maine and the tribes must continue to confront underlying racism still found in state institutions … Read more

Tester: We Must Do More to Address the Youth Suicide Epidemic in Indian Country

Senator Jon Tester, Vice-Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, today held a committee hearing on efforts to prevent youth suicide in Indian Country. During the hearing, Tester heard from administration and tribal leaders about the lack of resources accessible to Native American youth struggling with mental health issues. Read the full press-release at Jon Tester’s … Read more

If Truth be Told (Congress Blog)

For more than a century, the governments of Canada and the United States pursued a policy of forcible removal of indigenous children from their homes and communities.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada recently released a report on these removal practices, recognizing them to be part of a policy of “cultural genocide.” On June … Read more

American Indian College Fund Announces Action Recognizing Partnership to Train Early Childhood Educators in Native Communities

The organizations will work together to provide early childhood training for teachers and service providers in underserved rural Native American communities…. The program will impact more than 660 Native families and their children across six tribal nations. Read the full article at the PR Newswire website.

Native American Education Goes to Congress: 7 Bills to Watch

Congress has before it several pieces of legislation that could have major impacts on the education of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children. The bills include exemption from budget cuts, Native Language Immersion Student Achievement Act, Native American Languages Reauthorization Act, Building up Unique Indian Learning, Native Hawaiian Education Reauthorization Act, Native American … Read more

Congress Passes Two Bills to Help Protect Native Children

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, praised the Senate’s passage of S. 184, the Native American Children’s Safety Act and S. 246, the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act. Read the press release from the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Highlights of the Native … Read more

How to Protect Native Children—and ICWA

The same critics of ICWA that assert that ICWA far exceeds its original purpose; do not understand that ICWA is the only federal law that requires a fair process that considers the unique needs of Indian families and children, and requires consideration by state and private child welfare agencies and courts. Read the full piece … Read more

New Challenge to Native American Adoption Rules

A husband-wife team from two Washington, D.C., law offices filed suit Wednesday challenging strict new government guidelines for adopting Native American children in the aftermath of a landmark 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Read the full article a the National Law Journal website.

Law Professors Submit Comment on the Proposed ICWA Regulations

These proposed regulations will provide much needed guidance and consistency in state court proceedings involving Indian children. These regulations, supported as they are by ICWA and the great weight of federal Indian law, provide balance and clarity between competing interests, and are well within the authority of the Department of the Interior to promulgate. Read … Read more

$2 million in Grants to Build Tribal Education Departments

[G]rants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 per fiscal year are available for federally recognized tribes and their education departments. The grants are designed to help tribes assume control of Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)-funded schools in their communities, promote tribal education capacity, and provide academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to Indian students on their … Read more

What’s Lurking Behind the Suicides?

They come to Pine Ridge every few years, these suicide epidemics, with varying degrees of national media attention and local soul-searching. What the news media often misses though, and what tribal members understand but rarely discuss above a whisper, is that youth suicides here are inextricably linked to a multigenerational scourge of sexual abuse, with … Read more

Adoption Attorneys Submits Reply to BIA in Response to Proposed ICWA Amendments

The nation’s largest constituent group of adoption attorneys, law professors and judges submitted a 45-page response to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) concerning the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a federal law established in 1978. The BIA announced earlier this year its attempt to amend the federal law. The AAAA’s formal response outlines a … Read more

May 19 Deadline to Comment on Proposed Regulations

“The first week of hearings and consultations demonstrated a tremendous groundswell of support in Indian Country,” said Dr. Sarah Kastelic. “It’s exciting to see the momentum created by such a diverse cross section of our communities. Foster and adoptive parents, Native adoptees, foster youth, attorneys and law professors, child psychologists, families still searching for displaced … Read more

New Report on South Dakota Corruption in Foster Care

May 13th, 2015. The Lakota People’s Law Project released a 35-page report today that reveals how private institutions and their cozy relationships with those in the highest seats of power in South Dakota are responsible for the daily violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the systemic human rights abuses against the Lakota population … Read more

Judge in Indian Child Welfare Case Asks Court to Reconsider

A South Dakota state judge and other defendants have filed motions requesting a federal judge reconsider his ruling in which he found state officials in Rapid City set policies that violate the federal Indian Child Act Welfare Act. Read the full article at the Seattle PI website. See related article, “Circuit judge and others claim federal … Read more

Investing in the Future of American Indian and Alaska Native Students

Today, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education held a hearing to discuss the educational challenges impacting American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students and schools. The hearing entitled “Examining the Challenges Facing Native American Schools” is the first hearing exploring this topic since 2008. Read the full press release at the Committee … Read more

Governor Announces Planned Change for Adoption Process of Alaska Native Children

There were more than a few teary eyes in the governor’s conference room on Thursday, when Gov. Bill Walker announced plans for a significant overhaul to Alaska’s adoption process for Alaska Native children. The move comes after a high-profile Alaska Supreme Court case added potentially impossible-to-clear hurdles to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act’s provisions … Read more

Washington Tribes Urge Restart of Background Checks in Child Placement

Washington tribes and the country’s largest group representing Native Americans are asking for state and federal help in getting background checks when a tribe needs to place a child with a foster parent in an emergency situation. The state’s Children’s Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services, had conducted the criminal … Read more

‘A Great Triumph for Our Indian Children’: Tribes Win Landmark Child Welfare Case

On Monday, March 30 a federal judge issued a landmark decision affirming that officials in South Dakota violated numerous provisions in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and denied Indian parents their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. Referencing widespread and systemic failure to protect the integrity of Indian families, Judge Jeffrey … Read more

Nearly $2.9 Million in Head Start Funds Awarded to Tribe

The federal funding [to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota] will support Early Head Start and Head Start programs as the tribe works to improve its governance, children’s health and safety and provide comprehensive early education services to improve school readiness for American Indian children, according to a news release. The funds will … Read more

Indian Country Braces for Battle With Adoption Industry Over ICWA Guidelines

“The federal government’s unwillingness to hear from those groups who have been in the field for many years working directly with those families and children who will be negatively impacted by these guidelines is alarming,” said [American Academy of Adoption Attorneys President] Goldheim. “As a nonprofit organization comprised of child welfare experts, we are committed … Read more

Michigan Court of Appeals Reverses Adoption of Indian Child; Cites Michigan Adoptive Placement Preference Standards

The federal government and the state of Michigan show concern over potential separation of Indian children from their families and tribes through the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act (MIFPA), which include adoptive placement preference requirements for individuals seeking to adopt Indian children. Those laws again came into play … Read more

Heitkamp Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Ease Financial Costs of Adoption in Tribal Communities

March 23, 2015, WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today reintroduced her bipartisan bill to ease the financial challenges of adopting children in tribal communities in North Dakota and across the country. In all 50 states, parents who adopt children with special needs are able to claim the full adoption tax credit, helping to … Read more

Federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities Holds Public Meeting on Tribal Lands in Scottsdale, AZ

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) held a public meeting on tribal lands today at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The focus of the meeting was for Commission members to explore key issues related to addressing and preventing child abuse and neglect fatalities … Read more

Comments Sought on New BIA ICWA Rules

The Department of the Interior will be conducting tribal consultations and public meetings on the proposed rule through May 2015 to facilitate input and comment on the proposed rule. Meeting times and dates are listed below. The proposed regulations can be found at http://www.indianaffairs.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/OIS/HumanServices/IndianChildWelfareAct/index.htm Comments can be submitted via any of the following methods: • … Read more

Foster-Care Plan for Tribes Filled with Problems

When the federal government opened foster-care assistance to Native American tribes in 2008, more than 80 expressed interest in the program. By 2014, however, just 27 tribes had applied and only five had been approved for the federal program, their efforts hobbled by a lack of resources, inflexibility by federal bureaucrats and cultural insensitivity, according … Read more

Alaska Requests More Time to Consider Position in ICWA Dispute

“The state has requested an additional 30-day extension because the administration needs additional time to determine its response to the issues raised in the petition and the amicus brief,” Jacqueline Schaffer, an assistant attorney general with the Alaska Department of Law, told KNBA. Read the March 18 article at the Indianz.com website. Related links: March … Read more

Native Sun News: Lakota Children in ‘Imminent Danger’ in State

The class action lawsuit, which involves the first 48 hours after an Indian child is taken from his or her family, alleges the State of South Dakota regularly violates the Constitutional Rights of Indian parents and provision 1922 of the Indian Child Welfare Act during the “show cause” hearing. The case, OST et. al vs … Read more

USDA Launches Initiative to Develop New Solutions to End Child Hunger

In a speech at the 2015 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference today about the extent of childhood hunger in America and the impact of USDA programs on reducing food insecurity, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced more than $27 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed help end childhood hunger. The announcement was part of USDA … Read more

Tribes asking federal court to force judge to disclose communications

Chief U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken delayed a ruling on whether … 7th Circuit Judge Jeff Davis, of Rapid City, would have to turn over records of his discussions with other 7th Circuit judges…. Viken’s ultimate decision may be a key ruling in the 2-year-old lawsuit brought by the Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux tribes and … Read more

NICWA webinar on new ICWA guidelines: Friday, March 13

A major development in tribal child welfare policy was announced on February 25, 2015. The Bureau of Indian Affairs announced that it had revised–effective immediately–the Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings for the first time since 1979. NICWA is hosting a free webinar on Friday, March 13, 2015, at 10 … Read more

Latest NICWA Pathways Practice Digest Highlights Tribal-State Collaboration

Since the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978, there has been increasing movement to enhance state policy to support ICWA and address several of the challenges to American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children’s well-being. The efforts that have proven most successful have been initiated by tribal governments and AI/AN Indian … Read more

BIA Releases New ICWA Guidelines to Protect Native Families and Children

The updated guidelines, said Washburn, will provide much-needed clarity and comprehensive direction in for [sic] determining whether a child is an Indian child, identifying the child’s tribe, and notifying its parent and tribe as early as possible before determining placement. Further, they will provide clear instruction on the application of “active efforts” to prevent the … Read more

Child Welfare System Accused of Repeating Residential School History (Canada)

Today, after the public apologies and restitution over the government’s residential school system, disproportionately high rates of aboriginal child apprehensions continue across Canada. “There are more First Nation children in care today than during the height of residential schools,” said Shawn Atleo, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “We cannot lose another … Read more

Study Outlines How Poverty, Schools, and Absenteeism Affect Oregon’s Tribal Students

“The Condition of Education for Members of Oregon’s Indian Tribes” was a study completed by ECONorthwest and the Chalkboard Project. The Spirit Mountain Community Fund paid for the study, which looked at students enrolled in seven of Oregon’s federally recognized tribes, including the Klamath Tribes. Read more about the report at the Herald and News … Read more

Native Youth Education in State of Emergency

From kindergarten retention to high school graduation rates, education data show that American Indian and Alaskan Native students are faring the worst of all U.S. ethnic groups, according to a new White House report on Native youth. Read the full article at the EdSource website.

Michigan Court of Appeals Reverses Termination of Parental Rights; Cites Indian Child Welfare Act Standard

In any child custody proceeding involving Indian children, all parties should understand there are significant legal and procedural requirements that must be met before parental rights to Indian children may be terminated. The federal government and the State of Michigan show concern over potential separation of Indian children from their families and tribes through the Indian … Read more

Feds Pledge to Help Tribes with Enforcement of Indian Child Welfare Act

At the conclusion of the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C. this month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder briefly outlined the plan to require more compliance with ICWA. “This federal initiative represents a long overdue recognition by the Department of Justice that, 38 years after Indian Child Welfare Act was enacted into law, … Read more

33rd Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect April 19-22, 2015 | Portland, Oregon

Each year, the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) hosts the largest national gathering on American Indian and Alaska Native child advocacy issues. With over 800 attendees, this three-day conference attracts attention across North America, creating a space where participants can learn about the latest information across Indian Country in child welfare. Learn more and … Read more

Obama Unveils Plan To Help Young American Indians

Pledging to fulfill a “sacred responsibility,” President Barack Obama unveiled an initiative Wednesday aimed at improving dire conditions and creating opportunities for American Indian youth, more than a third of whom live in poverty. Read the full article at the Huffington Post website. Read the president’s remarks,  a related fact sheet and the 2014 Native … Read more

Indian Country Today Coverage of “Native Village of Tununak v. The State of Alaska”

Elise wanted her granddaughter, but after nearly six years in court fighting to assert her rights under federal law, time was not on her side. The Inupiaq elder, who has eight children and 26 grandchildren, had steadfastly refused to give up on a child whom she felt needed—and deserved—to be raised by her own family … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act; Designated Tribal Agents for Service of Notice (Federal Register Notice)

A Federal Register Notice by the Indian Affairs Bureau made on 12/04/2014. The regulations implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act provide that Indian tribes may designate an agent other than the tribal chairman for service of notice of proceedings under the Act. This notice includes the current list of designated tribal agents for service of … Read more

Attorney General Eric Holder Delivers Remarks During the White House Tribal Nations Conference

During his remarks on December 3, 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new initiative to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act : Under this important effort, we are working to actively identify state-court cases where the United States can file briefs opposing the unnecessary and illegal removal of Indian children from their … Read more

From Broken Homes to a Broken System (Washington Post)

Around the country, juveniles on reservations are left to languish in cash-strapped facilities that cannot afford to provide the kind of rehabilitative services afforded to most young offenders in the United States. Because some reservations have no juvenile detention centers, offenders often are shipped to facilities far from their homes, compounding the isolation of incarceration. … Read more

Tribal Program Spotlight: The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan Head Start Center

Toward that end, the LTBB Head Start Center employs a language teacher to teach children and staff their Native language of Anishinaabemowin.  Sometimes the kids are so excited that they go home and teach their parents, a practice that has resulted in the center receiving calls from parents inquiring about the meaning of common words. … Read more

Child Care and Development Block Grant Act is Signed into Law

Ensuring access to safe, good and affordable child care is crucial for helping to lift low-income parents out of poverty and build futures for their children. The child care bill signed on Wednesday by President Obama is a bipartisan step in the right direction, and it holds promise for further progress. Read the full article … Read more

Native American Kids Need More Protection, Advisory Panel Tells Holder

A panel of Indian-country experts will recommend to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday that tribes be allowed to criminally prosecute non-Indians who sexually or physically abuse Native American children on tribal land, saying that juveniles on reservations are living with “dire” levels of violence and poverty. Read the full article at the … Read more

CMS Awards $3.9 Million to Improve Access to Health Care

Nov. 12, 2014 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today awarded $3.9 million for outreach and enrollment efforts aimed at American Indian and Alaska Native children eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The grant awards will fund activities to engage schools and tribal agencies in Medicaid and CHIP … Read more

Tribal, State, and Federal Courts Met to Expand Collaboration on Child Welfare Issues (Michigan)

The Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum convened October 27-28 in Petoskey to review and adopt its charter and address the importance of judicial leadership in child welfare issues. The Forum was created by Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order in June and is the first entity of its kind to meet since the previous Tribal … Read more

Collaboration a common concern of child welfare conference speakers (Nebraska)

An article describing a recent social welfare conference at Chadron State College includes some ICWA references: During a panel discussion following the keynote, William Cross of Gordon, Nebraska, social worker with the ICWA ONTRAC office in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, challenged the Oglala Sioux tribe and CSC to collaborate more often to support Native American … Read more

Inaugural Tribal-State Court Forum Addresses Child Welfare Issues

The Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum, which was created this year and held its first meeting in Petoskey this week, provides an ongoing venue for all three jurisdictions to convene and improve working relations and communications. A priority for the Forum is addressing child welfare issues, and ensuring that our courts systems are meeting … Read more

First Educare Serving Native Children and Families Opens in Nebraska

On October 17, 2014, the Winnebago community celebrated the grand opening of Educare Winnebago, a new state-of-the-art early childhood education school that ultimately will serve 191 children on the Winnebago Indian Reservation in northeastern Nebraska. The school is the first Educare in a Native American community, the fourth Educare in Nebraska and the 20th Educare … Read more

Indian Schools Face Disrepair, Poverty

The 183 schools are spread across 23 states and fall under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Education. The schools serve about 48,000 children, or about 7 percent of Native-American students, and are among the country’s lowest performing. They are in some of the most out-of-the-way places in the country; one is … Read more

Children’s Bureau Express Spotlight on Tribal Child Welfare

Native American children are disproportionally represented in child welfare. Efforts to effect change must be culturally competent and protect the best interests of Indian children and strengthen Native families. This month, we look at cultural adaptations of trauma treatments, research on the use of social services by urban American Indian families, and a guide to … Read more

Two Sioux Tribes Receive Federal Funds to Build Tribal Foster Care

Two tribes of the Lakota Sioux Nation in South Dakota Indian Country have been awarded planning grants by the Department of Health and Human Services, marking a historic moment in the ongoing effort to stop the illegal State seizure of Lakota children by creating an independent tribal-run family services program administered for Lakota, by Lakota. … Read more

Alaska Supreme Court: Native Child can be Adopted by Non-Native Family

  In a split decision, the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled against the village of Tununak, which was appealing a lower court’s decision that allowed an Alaska Native infant to be adopted by non-Native parents rather than giving custody to her extended biological family in the tiny Western Alaska community. The Supreme Court’s ruling this … Read more

Alaska Supreme Court’s latest ICWA Decision is a Blow to Alaska Native Family Rights

On September 12, 2014, the Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision that will effectively bar most Alaska Native families from asserting their rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and in doing so will increase the number of Native children severed from their families and culture. In the Native Village of Tununak II v. … Read more

Crisis of Native American children spurs summit (Minnesota)

State, county, and tribal leaders from Minnesota gathered at Fortune Bay Resort Casino on Thursday [Sept. 25] to talk about what they are calling a crisis of Indian children.   Native Americans account for one percent of Minnesota’s population. However, Native American children are four times more likely to live in poverty than the state’s … Read more

Senate Passes Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act

[September 19, 2014] Last night, the U.S. Senate passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, bipartisan child welfare legislation aimed at reducing child sex trafficking, increasing adoptions and improving child support collections.  The bill includes a number of proposals from legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) last September (S. 1518, the … Read more

Tribal Leaders Summit Panel Talks Child Welfare

BISMARCK, N.D. — A panel at the Tribal Leaders Summit on Thursday addressed problems facing the implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act. … The consensus among the panelists is that the obstacle facing implementation of child welfare programs on reservations is lack of funding. Read the full article at the Bismarck Tribune website.

Federal Officials Say Native American School in Minnesota Needs Help

Federal officials got a firsthand look at one deteriorating Native American school in Minnesota Tuesday–they said it’s one of many suffering similarly throughout the country. After touring Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School in Bena, Minnesota, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said it’s just one example of how the country is letting down it’s Native American students. Read the full article and … Read more

Lac du Flambeau Families Benefit from Foster Care Changes

Lac du Flambeau hopes to provide more support for families and kids in its foster care system. The state of Wisconsin has signed an agreement allowing the tribe to access a new stream of federal funding. The Title IV-E program is the federal government’s foster care program.  Until recently, funds from that program have gone … Read more

Judge Accepts Feds’ Comments on Indian Child Welfare Case (South Dakota)

August 18, 2014. In what is being called a rare move, the Department of Justice last week threw its support behind two South Dakota tribes and two Native American mothers that have accused state officials of violating the Indian Child Welfare Act by taking custody of their children for 60 days after only a brief hearing. … Read more

House Passes Bill To Prevent Sex Trafficking, Strengthen Vulnerable Children and Families

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 4980, the “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.” This bipartisan, bicameral bill reflects agreements reached between House and Senate leaders on three separate bills designed to prevent sex trafficking of children in foster care, increase adoptions from foster care, and increase child … Read more

Why Are These Indian Children Being Torn Away From Their Homes?

Imagine entering family court and knowing that what’s at stake is the person you hold most dear – your child. Now imagine having a judge tell you that he’s removing your child from your custody, from your home. When you ask him why, the judge’s replies, “I honestly can’t tell you.” The judge then signs … Read more

Alaska Supreme Court sides with Interior tribe in child custody, sovereignty case

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday in support of an Interior tribal court in a child custody and tribal sovereignty case that was contested by Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration. The case, Simmonds v. Parks, started almost six years ago as a custody dispute in the Village of Minto, a town of 200 people about 130 … Read more

Abuse and Neglect: The Toxic Lives of Drug Endangered Children

[Vice-president of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, Lori] Moriarty spoke to a gathering of about 150 tribal officials, law enforcement officers, educators, attorneys and victims’ advocates on developing a successful collaborative response to drug endangered children at the 2014 Indian Country Conference, July 16-17 at Prairie Band Casino and Resort in Mayetta, Kansas. … Read more

Legislation Introduced to Help Adoptive Parents in Indian Country Receive Adoption Tax Credit

July 9, 2014 U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD), James Inhofe (R-OK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced the Tribal Adoption Parity Act. The legislation ensures parents adopting American Indian and Alaskan Native children through tribal courts are treated fairly under our nation’s tax code by making it easier for adoptive parents across … Read more

Leaders Convene to Improve Life for Spirit Lake’s Sacred Children

This week 26 key decision-makers from the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe, federal and state governments, as well as local and national private organizations met to kick off a comprehensive strategy called the “Spirit Lake Child Welfare Improvement Project.” The purpose of this gathering was to convene decision-makers to craft a vision and an initial plan … Read more

Dr. Dean Chavers: Is Racism Hindering Native Student Achievement?

The level of racism in Indian schools is astounding. But the level of its exposure is miniscule. Most of it is covered up, hidden, not talked about, and not acted upon. But the affect it has on Indian children is horrendous and debilitating. Read the full article at the Indian Country Today Media Network website.

S.D. tribes look to establish foster care services on reservations

Five South Dakota tribes have asked the federal government for financial assistance to help operate their own foster care services. … The Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Yankton, Oglala and Crow Creek Sioux tribes submitted applications Monday seeking federal planning dollars to develop and operate their own programs. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe received one of the … Read more

NSU gets $735,000 from National Child Welfare Workforce Institute

Northeastern State University is one of 11 universities nationwide to receive five-year funding of $735,000 through the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, a service of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, a media release states. NSU’s Department of Social Work and the Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare entered into a formal partnership that will assist in building … Read more

Navajo Nation Makes Historic Agreement With DHHS to Handle its Tribal Foster Care

On Friday, June 27, the Navajo Nation made an historic pact with the U.S. Department of of Health and Human Services to execute a direct funding agreement through the Title IV-E program under the Social Security Act that will reimburse the tribe and its child welfare agencies for federally eligible foster care, adoptions and guardianships. … Read more

As Child Abuse Persists at Spirit Lake, Congress Steps In

A congressional committee has begun investigating why child abuse and neglect persists on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake reservation, almost two years after the federal government stepped in to address the problem. At a hearing on Tuesday, tribal leaders and officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services are … Read more

Seminole Tribe of Florida Looking for a Superintendent of Education (6/2/2014)

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is currently accepting applications for a Superintendent of Education. The person in this position will be responsible for the overall leadership, development, organization, management, operation, and implementation of Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Educational programs across departments including the Ahfachkee School, Ahfachkee Traditional Preservation, Pemayetv Emakakv Charter School, Brighton Charter Cultural … Read more

Strengthening Tribal Communities through Education and Economic Development: Reforms to the Bureau of Indian Education

In the wake of Friday’s visit by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, the White House released an action plan to help strengthen and sustain at least two of Obama’s biggest initiatives in Indian country: Education and Economic Development. Acknowledging the “crisis” in Indian … Read more

Cramer Announces June 24, 2014, House Hearing on Spirit Lake Child Welfare

On Tuesday, June 24th, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs will hold an oversight hearing entitled “Child Protection & the Justice System on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.” This hearing will assess whether Congressional action is needed to address systematic problems with the child welfare and justice system on the … Read more

Advisory Committee on Native Children Exposed to Violence Holds Final Hearing

ANCHORAGE, Alaska –The Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence convenes its final public hearing in Anchorage, Alaska, today. The hearing, which commenced June 11, will examine the wide-ranging impact of violence on children in Alaska Native communities and consider programs to effectively support … Read more

ICWA Training Opportunity (Oregon, 6/25/2014)

Columbia Gorge CASA, in partnership with the Oregon Department of Human Services, is hosting a community training about ICWA June 25, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Water’s Edge in The Dalles. Participants will learn about the history of ICWA; Oregon tribes and culture; and the legal parameters and application of ICWA within the child … Read more

NICWA Deputy Director Sarah Kastelic Named 2014 American Express NGen Leadership Award Recipient

(Portland, Ore., June 10, 2014)—National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) Deputy Director Sarah Kastelic, Ph.D., was named the 2014 recipient of the Independent Sector American Express NGen Leadership Award today. In announcing the award, Independent Sector cited Kastelic’s role as “a transformational leader working to further policy research that empowers American Indian and Alaska Native … Read more

Nonprofit Will Oversee Community Programs at Laguna Pueblo

Laguna Pueblo’s community programs, ranging from early childhood programs to assistance to military veterans, are now under the umbrella of the newly created Laguna Community Foundation, a nonprofit that will oversee their funding and provide needed guidance. “We decided to bring all of our programs under one entity rather than have them split up,” said … Read more

A Roadmap for Collaborative and Effective Evaluation in Tribal Communities (Children’s Bureau)

From the Children’s Bureau website: Throughout history, many American Indian and Alaska Native communities have experienced intrusive research and judgmental evaluations that have caused harm. As a result, many fears about evaluation persist. Based on the efforts of a Children’s Bureau-sponsored workgroup of experts, this video introduces a vision for the future of Tribal child … Read more

Senate Committee Passes Bipartisan Bill to Stand Up for Native American Children

May 21, 2014: During a Senate Committee vote today, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s bipartisan bill to create a Commission on Native Children overwhelmingly passed – the final step before the bill goes to the full Senate. Since the bill was introduced a few months ago, Heitkamp has worked to build strong support for it. The … Read more

White Earth Nation Caseloads Grow as Tribe Takes Over Human Services Cases

White Earth tribal officials are preparing to begin the final phase of transferring human services cases from surrounding counties to the White Earth Nation. The movement began three years ago when a state law authorized White Earth to take control of all human services programs for its members and their families. See the full article … Read more

Letter from Chase Iron Eyes: S.D. Foster Facilities are the New Indian Boarding Schools

The state of South Dakota has forcibly removed our Lakota children from their tribes for 150 years. The Indian Child Welfare Act continues to be violated daily. Lakota leaders agree on the best permanent solution to this crisis: a Lakota-run foster care and family service system. I am writing here today to urgently request that … Read more

Available Grants Focused on Increasing Health Insurance Enrollment of American Indian/Alaska Native Children

A total of $4 million is available for grants to eligible entities, including the Indian Health Service (IHS), Tribes and Tribal organizations operating health programs under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) (P.L. 93-638, as amended), and Urban Indian organizations operating health programs under title V of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act … Read more

Job Announcement: Senior Director of Indian Child Welfare Consulting

Casey Family Programs has posted the position of Senior Director Indian Child Welfare. Learn more and apply at http://www.recruitingcenter.net/clients/casey/publicjobs Casey Family Programs, an Equal Opportunity Employer, is a national operating foundation that provides and improves – and ultimately prevents the need for – foster care. We value a diverse and culturally competent workplace. Job Summary:  … Read more

Advocate Jeri Williams Testifies Before Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence

Jeri Williams [is] a member of the Klamath tribe and is a survivor of human trafficking. Williams has made it part of her life’s work to help others overcome the challenges she has faced. … She’s testifying … before U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to … Read more

Justice Officials Meet to Address Impacts of Violence on Native Children

[Montana U.S. Attorney Michael] Cotter and D-o-J’s Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Robert Listenbee, discuss the scourge of violence on some tribal communities and what’s being done about it. Listen to the interview at the Montana Public Radio website.

American Indian College Fund Wins $500,000 Grant for Early Education

The new grant will focus on engaging families and kin groups in the child’s educational process. “Education in tribal communities used to be very integrated with the socialization of children, teaching children how to be within a family and a community,” said Crazy Bull. “Over the years, families have lost that role, … but we’re … Read more

Resource: National Child Welfare Workforce Institute

According to their website, the National Child Welfare Institute’s (NCWWI)… … purpose is to increase child welfare practice effectiveness through diverse partnerships that focus on workforce systems development, organizational interventions, and change leadership, using data-driven capacity building, education, and professional development. NCWWI’s workforce development activities promote… Learning: Fostering continuous learning that is interactive, reflective and … Read more

Swept Away: An In-Depth Look at Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik

This on-going series from the Indian Country Today Media Network examines Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik, which charges South Dakota State and local Pennington County officials with violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in child custody proceedings. Although the State of South Dakota appeared to be flagrantly operating outside the scope of the … Read more

AG West Delivers Remarks at the Thirty-second Annual Protecting Our Children Conference

Notwithstanding setbacks like the Baby Girl decision, we will continue to stand up for ICWA because, as we said in the Supreme Court, it’s “a classic implementation of Congress’s plenary [trust] responsibility . . . for Indians.”  You see, for us, standing up for ICWA means standing strong for tribal sovereignty.  “Nothing could be more … Read more

“IV-E 101” Webinar on April 21, 2014

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Children & Family Services in collaboration with Casey Family Programs invite you to attend a webinar: “IV-E 101” Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe was the first tribe in the United States to be approved to receive direct Title IV-E funds. In this webinar, Port Gamble representatives will give an  overview of the … Read more

Veronica’s Birth Mom Drops Challenge to Indian Child Welfare Act

Baby Veronica’s birth mother has filed a voluntary dismissal of a federal lawsuit against the Cherokee Nation and the U.S. government, which requested that parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act be declared unconstitutional, attorneys in the case announced Tuesday. Read the full article at the Tulsa World website and related articles at Indian Country … Read more

NICWA 2014-2015 Training Dates

2014-2015 Training Institute Dates ! September 8-10, 2014 – Portland, Oregon -ICWA Basics -Advanced ICWA -Positive Indian Parenting December 1-3, 2014 – San Diego, California -ICWA Basics -Advanced ICWA -Positive Indian Parenting April 23-24, 2015 – Portland, Oregon -ICWA Basics -Positive Indian Parenting ICWA Basics will be taught as a two-day course covering the basics of the … Read more

Representing Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence from Tribal Communities (MN)

The American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence, in collaboration with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Office on Violence Against Women, is pleased to present a two-day training, The Fundamentals of Representation of Victims of Domestic & Sexual Violence from Tribal Communities, on May 15-16, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN. This interactive, … Read more

Circuit Judges Accused of Ignoring Federal Judge’s Order in Suit Over Native Children Custody Hearings

A federal judge wants to know why some South Dakota state judges are refusing to turn over transcripts in Indian Child Welfare Act cases. As part of a lawsuit filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the state agreed to provide the transcripts. The transcripts are needed to determine whether Indian … Read more

A Survey and Analysis of Select Title IV-E Tribal-State Agreements including Template of Promising Practices

The Association on American Indian Affairs, with support from Casey Family Programs, recently released their report,  A Survey and Analysis of Select Title IV-E Tribal-State Agreements including Template of Promising Practices. From the report: This report provides a detailed analysis of Title IV-E tribal-state agreements, which includes an overall summary of the status of current … Read more

NICWA Statement Examines Child Maltreatment Statistics in Washington Post Article

In response to a March 9, 2014 article in the Washington Post, “The hard lives — and high suicide rate — of Native American children on reservations,” the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) provided background information to reporter Sari Horwitz about child mistreatment statistics related to American Indian and Alaska Native children.  The statement … Read more

Senate passes Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014

Thursday (March 13), the United States Senate passed the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, legislation that includes Senator Mazie K. Hirono’s measures for Native Hawaiian children. The bill updates and improves the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program created in 1990, which provides states with federal funding to help … Read more

The Hard Lives — and High Suicide Rate — of Native American Children on Reservations

[T]he silence that has shrouded suicide in Indian country is being pierced by growing alarm at the sheer number of young Native Americans taking their own lives — more than three times the national average, and up to 10 times on some reservations. Read the full article at the Washington Post website. Read the statement … Read more

3rd Annual Utah Indian Child Welfare Conference

Ft. Duchesne-Hosted by the Ute Tribe Conference Presentations will focus on the theme Our Culture, Our Children, Our Children , specifically: •Trends in Indian child welfare and what specifically can be done to make a difference. •A practical application of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the child’s best interest. •What happens when a child … Read more

SAMHSA Grants Fund Expansions of Juvenile Treatment Drug Court Services

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, is accepting applications for fiscal year 2014 Grants to Expand Substance Abuse Treatment in Adult Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts and Juvenile Treatment Drug Courts. The purpose of this program is to expand substance abuse treatment services in existing adult Tribal Healing … Read more

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Oversight Hearing: “Early Childhood Development and Education in Indian Country”

Date: 02/26/2014 02:30 PM Type: Oversight Hearing Watch the video of the hearing at the Senate website (coverage begins at 10:15 of the video). Panel 1 Ms. Linda K. Smith Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison-for Early Childhood Development, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC View Testimony … Read more

Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas 4th Annual Judicial Symposium

Thursday, April 24, 2014 Alabama-Coushatta Reservation, Texas Protecting our Children and Families… Moving Toward a Healthy and Vital Community Through Tribal-State-Federal Collaboration Topics include: ICWA: IN THE WAKE OF BABY VERONICA Facilitator: Cheryl D. Fairbanks, Attorney and Tribal Justice SPEAKER: Chrissi Ross Nimmo, Assistant Attorney General, Cherokee Nation ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NATIONAL INDIAN CHILD WELFARE … Read more

Human Rights to Culture, Family, and Self-Determination: The Case of Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

Kristen Carpenter and Lorie Graham have contributed a chapter in the forthcoming  Indigenous Rights In International Law (Kirchner and Policastrin, Eds.).  It looks at the international human rights issues raised by the Supreme court’s decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. Abstract: The well-being of indigenous children is a subject of major concern for indigenous … Read more

Attorney General’s Task Force on Native Children Exposed to Violence Holds Second of Four Meetings

About 75 people attended the all-day hearing at Talking Stick Resort near Scottsdale. It was the second of four across the country to secure testimony and information so the task force can generate policy recommendations for Attorney General Eric Holder. In December, the committee was in Bismarck, N.D. The final two hearings are scheduled in … Read more

SD Panel Approves Child Sex Abuse Task Force

The task force would meet to study child sexual abuse in South Dakota and suggest ways the state could improve its policies for dealing with the problem. … The task force would include a victim, law enforcement, medical and mental health experts, child advocates and a tribal representative with experience on the issue. Read the … Read more

Nebraska Legislature Considers Bill That Would Help Prevent the Breakup of Native Families

Nebraska has the third-highest rate of Native children in foster care, said Lincoln Sen. Colby Coash, who introduced the Nebraska bill on behalf of the State-Tribal Relations Committee. . . . His bill would require state agencies to reach out to all tribes from which a Native child may be descended when a child who … Read more

Federal Judge Rules Lawsuit over Treatment of South Dakota Indian Parents and Tribes Can Move Forward

A federal court has ruled that a lawsuit charging state and local officials with violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in state child custody proceedings can go to trial. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in March 2013 along with the ACLU of South Dakota and Dana Hanna of the Hanna … Read more

Study Shows Oregon Tribal Students Doing Poorly

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A study shows many tribal children do poorly in Oregon public schools, in part because they’re frequently absent and their schools often show up at the bottom of state rankings. The study was paid for by the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Read the … Read more

Cherokee Strengthens Child Custody Laws, Giving Preference to Biological or Tribal Family

“Without a doubt our people, especially our youth, are the tribe’s most valuable asset,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “This new Cherokee Nation law will give our tribal sovereign government and our hard-working ICWA staff an additional tool to protect our people and ensure Cherokee children have the opportunity to live in … Read more

Rosebud Sioux Tribal Court Orders Children Returned to Father

His two girls had been taken by their mother, Heather Shepard, to the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in October in violation of McNutt’s legal custody of the children. Despite a warrant issued for Shepard’s arrest, state law enforcement officers could not intervene since the children were on reservation land. But, sovereignty issues were swept aside by … Read more

Lawsuit Against California Districts Allege Abuse of Native Students

[T]wo federal lawsuits [were] filed December 18 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California against two Humboldt County School Districts—Eureka City and Loleta Union—that accuse school officials of perpetuating systemic physical, emotional and sexual abuse of Native American and African-American students. … “This lawsuit was really a last resort,” Nelson said. “It’s been … Read more

Interview: Sen. Dorgan on Native Youth, Sequestration, and the Dysfunctional Congress

I’m really pleased with what [the Center for Native American Youth has] done so far. We’ve created a start-up non-profit from scratch. In 2 ½ years, I think we’ve done some significant things. We’re focusing on the well-being of Native American youth; we’re working on teen suicide prevention; and education opportunities—a series of issues. We’re … Read more

Alaska and Tanana Chiefs Conference Sign Historic Tribal Agreement

For the first time in Alaska’s child welfare history, the state is entering into an agreement with a Tribal organization that supports and recognizes the ability of a Tribe to provide services to its own citizens, increasing the likelihood for Tribal foster children to stay in their communities with relatives, culture, and traditions. Read more … Read more

Dana Hanna: Courts Continue to Violate ICWA in South Dakota (Native Sun News)

Earlier this year, the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes and three Indian mothers filed a lawsuit in federal court in Rapid City on behalf of all parents of minor Indian children in Pennington County. That lawsuit, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik, charges that the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS), the Pennington County … Read more