Communities as caretakers: The Indian Child Welfare Act as an antiracist framework for all child welfare cases.

The child welfare system is racist.  As with all systems in the United States, the system charged with protecting children is not exempt from the racist policies, practices, and mindsets that created and justified colonialization and slavery.  Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color continue to fall prey to the harsh realities of child welfare involvement, finding themselves disproportionately represented in this system.  Historically, the child welfare system has attempted to rectify this issue by implementing policies and practices that consistently fall flat.  Perhaps one of the most comprehensive attempts at rectifying these wrongs involved the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) enacted in 1978.  ICWA was created to protect Indigenous communities devastated by extraordinarily high rates of removing Indigenous children from their families and Tribes and adopting them out to non-Indigenous families.  In 2013, eighteen of the United States’ most prominent child welfare organizations collectively asserted in an amicus brief that through the creation of ICWA, “Congress adopted the gold standard for child welfare policies and practices that should be afforded to all children.”  Specifically, they asserted that ICWA serves as “a model for child welfare and placement decisionmaking [sic] that should be extended to all children.”

Read the full article in the Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy.