Reunifying Native families after foster care

How a Billings court is putting the Indian Child Welfare Act into action The Family Recovery Court, a specialized track for parents involved in ICWA-eligible child welfare cases, launched in 2021 with more than $600,000 in federal grant support and the encouragement of community groups who wanted to better serve Native families navigating the local … Read more

Native American child welfare bills return to legislature after federal ICWA upheld

Pourier’s bills would create a two-year task force to study Native American child welfare as well as codify and expand a piece of ICWA in state law.  Republican Rep. Tamara St. John, from Sisseton and a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, is the prime sponsor of a bill that would establish an Indian Child Welfare Advisory Council in the state … Read more

Native American mothers whose children have been separated from them experience a raw and ongoing grief that has no end

Native American mothers whose children were separated from them – either through child removal for assimilation into residential boarding schools or through coerced adoption – experience the kind of grief no parent should ever feel. Yet theirs is a loss that is ongoing, with no sense of meaning or closure. Read the full article at The Conversation.

Where the money goes: Foster families get paid, relatives caring for children get nothing

A quarter of all foster children in 2021 were placed in kinship care, with Native American children accounting for 53% of the kinship placements, according to the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. Bruner and other kinship families say the lack of support is a massive barrier preventing others from accepting a kinship placement. Foster … Read more

The challenges of enforcing ICWA

A non-Native woman in Alaska refuses to abide by a tribal court order to turn an Alaska Native foster child over to the girl’s family members. It’s a blatant disregard of tribal sovereignty even after a notable re-affirmation of the Indian Child Welfare Act by the U.S. Supreme Court. The woman took custody of the … Read more

FireLodge employees work together to help

Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s FireLodge Children & Family Services works to protect children and vulnerable adults who are at risk of being abused or neglected, providing services such as court advocacy, investigations, prevention services, parenting education, counseling, foster home approval and adoption.  Read the full article at Potawatomi.org

Senators Ben Ray Luján, Susan Collins Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Native American Children

U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) reintroduced the Native American Child Protection Act (NACPA), bipartisan legislation that authorizes three programs that ensure Tribes have the tools needed to treat, prevent, investigate and prosecute Native American child abuse and neglect. Read the full article at the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Montana acts to protect Native American priority in adopting Native children

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed legislation giving Native American families preference in fostering and adopting Native children involved with child protective services, a proactive move to protect such rights as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could undercut them nationally. Read full article at Religion News Service.

The implications of the case against ICWA

The Supreme Court is about to decide on a case arguing that the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, discriminates against white people. The lawsuit seeks to reframe tribal membership as a racial rather than a political category, and argues that it disadvantages white foster parents trying to adopt Native children. This week, Rebecca Nagle, host of the This Land … Read more

Bills would ensure guardianship cases in tribal court are eligible for state assistance

Right now, people who become a child’s legal guardian aren’t eligible for state assistance if their case is in a Michigan tribal court. Two bills in the state legislature would change that. They would extend the financial benefits of the Guardianship Assistance Program to all legal guardians, regardless of what court handles their case. Read … Read more

Northern California County’s Child Welfare System Again Called out by Civil Grand Jury

A report released Monday by a northern California civil grand jury finds that the local child welfare system routinely misses court deadlines, creating “an unnecessary amount of stress” for children and families — particularly members of tribal communities who are overrepresented in the foster care system. Read the full article at The Imprint.

Oklahoma can place some tribal children in foster care without tribal sign-off, state high court rules

In a novel ruling, the Oklahoma Supreme Court found the exclusivity does not cover children who belong to one tribal nation but live on the reservation of another. The state can assert decision-making power over the lives of those children without the consent of the reservation tribe, the court determined. Read the full article at … Read more

Oklahoma Supreme Court’s opinion challenging parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act is flawed, experts say

The Oklahoma Supreme Court used the reasoning of the 2022 ruling in Castro-Huerta v. Oklahoma, which rolled back parts of McGirt, to come to their decision. The Oklahoma Supreme Court say that states have jurisdiction over child custody proceedings, and ICWA only limits the state’s jurisdiction when a member child is on their tribe’s reservation. Read the … Read more

Minnesota moves to protect Native children as Supreme Court decision looms

Uncertainty about the future of ICWA brought urgency to legislative efforts this year to strengthen the Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act or MIFPA. Lawmakers in both houses passed the legislation and Governor Walz is expected to sign it. “MIFPA legislation creates basically the gold standard of protection for our native kids,” said State Senator Mary … Read more

NICWA Training Institute – June 2023

NICWA’s June 2023 Training Institute will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota June 6 – 8, 2023. Trainings include Child Protection Teams in Indian Country and Positive Indian Parenting. Early bird registration is available through May 5 at the registration website. Learn about this and other upcoming training institutes at the NICWA website.

Overturning Indian Child Welfare Act bad for kids, families, Native Americans everywhere

Let me be clear, this law is not about preventing non-Native families from adopting children when the situation and best interests of the child call for it. It’s about keeping families together whenever possible; it’s about fighting for the futures of Native American children; and it’s about giving tribes a long-awaited seat at the table. … Read more

North Dakota bill seeks to protect Native American adoption rules as court decision looms

Davis said the potential reversal of ICWA at the federal level adds urgency to her mission to pass a similar state law in North Dakota. The Democratic legislator said all five tribes that share geography with North Dakota were consulted during the drafting of House Bill 1536. Read the full article at InForum.

Justice Department Finds Alaska Unnecessarily Segregates Children with Behavioral Health Disabilities in Institutions

The department’s investigation found that Alaska’s system of care is heavily reliant on institutions and that key community-based services and supports needed to serve children with behavioral health disabilities in family homes, such as home-based family treatment, crisis services and therapeutic treatment home services, are often unavailable. As a result, many children with behavioral health … Read more

Choctaws fight to preserve authority over Native American adoptions

“As the only federally recognized tribe in the State of Mississippi, our 11,000 plus members are descendants of those members who chose to remain here in Mississippi to preserve our cultural heritage on our ancestral homelands,” the tribe said in a statement. “Today, just as in the past, the preservation and security of our tribe, … Read more

NICWA Releases New State of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families Report

The State of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families Report is a six-part series of data briefs that presents current data on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) child and family well-being. Each data brief covers an aspect of well-being data, including economic indicators, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), child welfare system involvement, mortality … Read more

California Tribal Families Coalition Establishes “The California ICWA Institute” Think Tank

On the heels of oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an organization comprised of a coalition of California tribes on Nov. 21 announced its creation of a think tank to advance and defend protections for Native children. The California ICWA Institute—a new project under The California Tribal … Read more

Utah lawmakers want to protect Native American adoptions — no matter how the Supreme Court rules

If the law is stricken, Utah legislators talked Tuesday about plans to enact a nearly identical version statewide that would codify the same preference for continuing to place Native kids with Native foster parents. The Native American Legislative Liaison Committee voted unanimously in support of running that bill for the upcoming session that starts in January. Read … Read more

Alaska could see effects of Indian Child Welfare Act challenge heard by Supreme Court

And because Native children represent about 55% of all children in state custody, Chen says overturning ICWA would have huge implications for Alaska. At the same time, Native people only make up a little over 20% of the population, so there’s a disparity, she says, and a feeling that the state hasn’t done enough to … Read more

The Indian Child Welfare Act: What it is and What’s at Stake

The law, known as ICWA, includes many other provisions that impact Native families across Indian Country. What ICWA will look like following the Supreme Court’s decision depends on how the justices rule. Amicus curiae briefs filed in the case cover arguments made for and against the law.  Read the full article at Native News Online.

The Supreme Court Case That Could Break Native American Sovereignty

In the sprawling federal lawsuit Haaland v. Brackeen, a handful of white foster parents, among other plaintiffs, are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a law called the Indian Child Welfare Act. ICWA was created in 1978 to prevent family separation in Native communities. When the law passed, about a third of Native children had been removed from … Read more

Supreme Court considers fate of landmark Indian adoption law

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case that pits several prospective adoptive parents and the state of Texas against the Indian Child Welfare Act — a federal law aimed at preventing Native American children from being separated from their extended families and their tribes. Listen to the full story at the NPR … Read more

Clarence Thomas May Destroy Native Children’s Rights Based on a Lie

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Brackeen v. Haaland, a case engineered to hobble the federal government’s power to protect Native communities from exploitation. The plaintiffs are asking the justices to invalidate the 44-year-old Indian Child Welfare Act, which prioritizes the placement of Native children in custody proceedings with Native families. But they’re … Read more

Tribal leaders vow to protect their families from separation as Indian Child Welfare law heads to the Supreme Court

California’s Morongo Band of Mission Indians is one of five tribes that have intervened in the Brackeen v. Haaland case, scheduled for oral arguments Nov. 9. The tribesspoke out this week alongside leaders of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Quinault Indian Nation of Washington, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Navajo Nation.  Read the … Read more

Hownikan Podcast: Brackeen v. Haaland and the Indian Child Welfare Act

Kendra Lowden is a Citizen Potawatomi Nation member and Curly family descendant. She works as the Senior Program Associate at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She is the owner of Ghost Thunder Child Welfare Consulting and previously served as the Board President of the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Association. Kendra discussed … Read more

Current Supreme Court term could impact South Dakota tribes

Brackeen v. Haaland is a case centering around the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), which focuses on assimilation, tribal culture and the adoption of Native children. Across the country, tribes are watching this case unfold to see how it will impact tribal sovereignty and the relationship between tribes and the federal government. Read the … Read more

Can Indian Country withstand the new Supreme Court?

On Nov. 9, the eyes of Indian Country will once again turn toward the nation’s capital, where the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), a law passed in 1978 that enshrines tribal governments’ right to oversee foster care placements in cases involving Native children. Read the full article at … Read more

U.S. Representatives Chu and Bacon introduce bipartisan Indian child welfare legislation

This week, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and Representative Don Bacon (NE-02) introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Tribal Families Act, legislation designed to assist state and local child welfare agencies with implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA, which sets federal standards for abuse or neglect custody proceedings involving native children, lessens the trauma of removal … Read more

Northern Arapaho tribe asks Wyoming for a state ICWA law as U.S. Supreme Court decision looms

The proposed options could include drafting a trigger protection legislation. What that means is if the federal government does strike down ICWA, Wyoming could say ‘no, we will still follow the tenets of ICWA’. Or use the federal law as a template to draft a state law. Read or listen to the full article at … Read more

Pascua Yaqui & state of Arizona agree on roles in foster children cases ahead of Supreme Court decision

Pascua Yaqui children taken into state custody in Arizona will continue to learn and grow up according to the tribe’s customs and traditions, and the tribe will still be able to intervene in custody proceedings such as adoptions and the termination of parental rights. The state and tribe signed a memo of understanding last week … Read more

First-of-its-kind Survey Examines Trauma and Healing Among Indigenous Survivors of Family Separation

The Minneapolis-based National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, the First Nations Repatriation Institute, and the University of Minnesota are collaborating on a first-of-its-kind survey asking those difficult questions. Researchers have compiled close to 1,000 accounts, submitted on paper and online, for the Child Removal in Native Communities survey, which concludes September 11.  Read the full article … Read more

Lawyering the Indian Child Welfare Act

This Article describes how the statutory structure of child welfare laws enables lawyers and courts to exploit deep-seated stereotypes about American Indian people rooted in systemic racism to undermine the enforcement of the rights of Indian families and tribes. Even when Indian custodians and tribes are able to protect their rights in court, their adversaries … Read more

Supporters File 21 Amicus Briefs to Uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act in Haaland v. Brackeen

In an outpouring of support, 497 Tribal Nations, 62 Native organizations, 23 states and DC, 87 congresspeople, and 27 child welfare and adoption organizations, and many others signed on to 21 briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of upholding ICWA. This large, bipartisan coalition of tribal leaders, policymakers, and organizations understand that the far-reaching … Read more

Upcoming Trainings from the National Indian Child Welfare Association

The National Indian Child Welfare Association is offering the following programs: Positive Indian Parenting – Virtual August 22-25, 2022; September 12-15, 2022 Positive Indian Parenting – Niagara Falls, New York September 20-22, 2022 Understanding ICWA – Niagara Falls, New York September 20-22, 2022 Qualified Expert Witness – Portland, Oregon January 31- February 2, 2023 Cross-Cultural … Read more

Historic Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact becomes Law

On Friday, August 5, HB 184, a bill codifying the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact, automatically became State law without the Governor’s signature. The Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact began in 2017, under Governor Bill Walker and HSS Commissioner Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, who signed the landmark State-Tribal Compact with 18 Tribal Co-Signers, representing 161 federally-recognized Tribes. … Read more

Advocates worry federal law protecting Native adoptees could be overturned by Supreme Court

For the last 44 years, a federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) has sought to prevent these situations by prioritizing that Native children adoptees be placed, when possible, with Native relatives or other members within the child’s tribe. But after months of consequential rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority, four … Read more

California Bill Aims to Increase Availability of Tribal Foster Homes

More than half of Native American children in California who are taken into foster care end up in non-Indigenous households.  Assembly Bill 1862, which has so far met unanimous support in both houses of the state Legislature, would provide annual funding for tribes to recruit foster parents among their members, and to refurbish and repair … Read more

Upcoming Trainings from the National Indian Child Welfare Association

The National Indian Child Welfare Association is offering the following programs: Positive Indian Parenting – Virtual July 25-28, 2022; August 22-25, 2022; September 12-15, 2022 Positive Indian Parenting – Niagara Falls, New York September 20-22, 2022 Understanding ICWA – Niagara Falls, New York September 20-22, 2022   Learn more about NICWA conferences and trainings.  

Casey Family Programs honors 10 people from across the nation who are working to improve child and family well-being

Casey Family Programs, the nation’s largest operating foundation dedicated to safely reducing the need for foster care and building Communities of Hope for children and families, announced today the recipients of the 2022 Casey Excellence for Children Awards. These awards recognize outstanding individuals for their inspiring work, exceptional leadership and unwavering dedication to improving the … Read more

United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, the Shawnee Tribe, and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition to host a session on Indian Boarding Schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma

The United Indian Nations of Oklahoma (UINO), the Shawnee Tribe and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) announced today that they will host a summit with tribes in the area discussing the history and impacts of Indian Boarding schools on June 22 at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The … Read more

California Tribal Families Coalition applauds Biden administration for withdrawing the SUNSET Rule

The California Tribal Families Coalition (CTFC) applauds the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for withdrawing a controversial rule from the Trump Administration that would have exposed millions of tribal children and families to unnecessary risk and removed countless regulations meant to uphold key healthcare standards. Read the full article in Indian Country Today.

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 … Read more

Community members needed to help improve Minnesota child welfare policies and practices

Minnesotans are needed to help shape child welfare policy, practice and training recommendations by serving on Citizen Review Panels for the state’s child protection system. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is currently seeking more than 80 volunteers for citizen panels in Chisago, Hennepin, Ramsey and Winona counties. By bringing a crucial community voice to … Read more

Relative Placement in Washington Supreme Court Decision

Even though this is not an ICWA case, three people have sent me this opinion by Justice Montoya Lewis regarding the primacy of relative placement in child protection proceedings. This opinion points to all sorts of issues that beleaguers relative placement, especially certain aspects of background checks and prior involvement with the system. Here, the … Read more

‘It took an entire tribe to raise me’

New Mexico can provide support for Native families and their children this legislative session — perhaps in the nick of time, depending on the Supreme Court. Read the full article in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Hanna hired for ICWA cases

The OST Council met Tuesday in Batesland at the Bill C. Bear Memorial gym at Batesland school for their January regular session; after many questions from the gathered tribal council representatives, the council voted 11-6-1 to approve the annual attorney contract for Dana Hanna who represents the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Indian Child Welfare Act … Read more

The Indian Child Welfare Act is the gold standard

George F. Will’s Jan. 6 op-ed, “The racial politics of the Indian Child Welfare Act,”  ignored the benefits of the Indian Child Welfare Act and the basic facts of tribal citizenship. The ICWA is considered the gold standard of child welfare laws and establishes a process that promotes efforts to keep children connected to their families, … Read more

Proposed Legislation: S.3337

S.3337 — A bill to protect Native children and promote public safety in Indian country. Read about this bill at the 117th Congress website.

Tribes file cert petition defending Indian Child Welfare Act before Supreme Court

On September 3, four tribes and the United States Solicitor General filed cert petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court in Brackeen v. Haaland, defending the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and its constitutionality. Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Morongo Band of Mission Indians Chairman Charles Martin, Oneida Nation Chairman Tehassi Hill, and Quinault Indian Nation President Guy … Read more

Domestic violence, the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Alaska Natives: How domestic violence is weaponized against Alaska Native survivors.

After the forced separation of Indian families, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to create heightened procedural protections to maintain and preserve Indian families. Following Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, 570 U.S. 637 (2013), courts have indicated concern that the heightened standards of ICWA may be overbroad and harm Indian children. This Note … Read more

Lummi Nation reimagines foster care for Indigenous families

Several years ago, the Lummi Tribal Council told Diana Phair, the executive director of the tribe’s Housing Authority: “We have 200-some children in foster care. We need to bring our children home.”  With the tribal members’ input, she and her colleagues devised Sche’lang’en Village, a novel housing arrangement for parents seeking to reunite with their … Read more

Bay Mills to Host Third Annual VAWA and ICWA Training

Bay Mills Indian Community 3rd annual Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training Aug. 4-6, in-person and online  BRIMLEY, Mich. — Picking up where last year’s training left off, Bay Mills Indian Community sets out to host its third annual Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training, Aug. 4-6. The event is hosted both in-person at the Bay Mills … Read more

Proposed Legislation: S.2326

S.2326 — A bill to amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to reauthorize programs under that Act, and for other purposes. Read about this bill at the 117th Congress website.

First Indigenous woman appointed to Calif. commission advocating for women and girls

SAN DIEGO — Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed Carlsbad resident and professor Joely Proudfit to the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, making her the first Indigenous woman to serve the organization. Proudfit (Luiseño/Payómkawichum) is a professor at California State University, San Marcos who has served as American Indian studies chair and director … Read more

Proposed Legislation: H.R.4348

H.R.4348 – To remove administrative barriers to participation of Indian tribes in Federal child welfare programs, and increase Federal funding for tribal child welfare programs, and for other purposes. Read about this bill at the 117th Congress website.

Proposed Legislation: S.2167/H.R.4052

S.2167/H.R.4052 – A bill to establish a national, research-based, and comprehensive home study assessment process for the evaluation of prospective foster parents and adoptive parents and provide funding to States and Indian tribes to adopt such process. Read more about this bill in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Opinion: Deb Haaland: My grandparents were stolen from their families as children. We must learn about this history.

As I read stories about an unmarked grave in Canada where the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found last month, I was sick to my stomach. But the deaths of Indigenous children at the hands of government were not limited to that side of the border. Many Americans may be alarmed to learn that the United … Read more

Proposed Legislation: S.1868

S.1868 – A bill to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require that equitable distribution of assistance include equitable distribution to Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, to increase amounts reserved for allotment to Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations under certain circumstances, and to reserve amounts for migrant programs under certain circumstances, and … Read more

ICWA: Reclaiming Indigenous identity

The Indian Child Welfare Act became law in 1978 with a goal of keeping Native children with their families and tribes. As Blackfeet citizen and Salish descendant Brooke Pepion Swaney found out, the law was overlooked when Kendra was adopted by the Mylnechuk family. Brooke’s first feature-length documentary, “Daughter of a Lost Bird,” premieres at the prestigious Human Rights … Read more

ICWA’s Irony

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA or the Act) is a federal statute that protects Indian children by keeping them connected to their families and culture. The Act’s provisions include support for family reunification, kinship care preferences, cultural competency considerations and community involvement. These provisions parallel national child welfare policies. Nevertheless, the Act is relentlessly … Read more

OpEd: Applied Behavior Analysis is abusive to Native children

I am an Ojibwe autistic parent of autistic children, and a disability advocate. My children and I are statistically insignificant, and we routinely endure systemic erasure. Most Native autistic people do not get an accurate diagnosis or the support they need at any age. Native communities desperately need access to accurate information about autism and … Read more

Proposed Legislation: H.R.1566

H.R.1566 – To amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require that equitable distribution of assistance include equitable distribution to Indian tribes and tribal organizations and to increase amounts reserved for allotment to Indian tribes and tribal organizations under certain circumstances, and to provide for a Government Accountability Office report on child abuse … Read more

Four California tribes voice urgent concerns about the Humboldt child welfare system

Today, the Yurok Tribe, Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, the Wiyot Tribe and the Trinidad Rancheria announced their support of the California Attorney General’s effort to pursue a court order requiring the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Services Division and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to fully and … Read more

A victory for Native children’s rights to remain with family and tribe

A recent, unanimous opinion of the Washington State Supreme Court authored by Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, the first Native American justice to serve on the court, gives critical life to the rights granted under the act by giving expansive meaning to the “reason to know” standard that invokes its protections.

Realizing ICWA’s promise

Repairing and strengthening Indian Country’s ancestral social safety net Indian Country Today Opinion by: -Tara ‘Katuk’ Sweeney, Iñupiat member of the Native Village of Barrow and the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior -Jeannie Hovland, Flandreau Santee Sioux Member and Commissioner … Read more

Webinar: Indian Child Welfare: Practice Impacts and Responses to COVID-19 in State Agencies

Join NICWA for a webinar with state Indian child welfare professionals to hear discussions about impacts to state agency services and implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act during the pandemic. Panelists:-Yvonne Barrett, Manager of Indian Child Welfare Act Program, Minnesota Department of Human Services-Adam Becenti, Director of Tribal Affairs, Oregon Department of Human Services-Natalie … Read more

Court focuses on Native idea of family

Under the direction of Children, Youth and Families Secretary Brian Blalock, state leaders announced in October the creation of New Mexico’s first Indian Child Welfare Act court. Only the nation’s sixth, the court opened Jan. 1 in the 2nd Judicial District to enforce and adjudicate the 1978 congressional law that requires the placement of Native … Read more

CYFD forging ahead with Native American court, kinship care to improve child welfare

CYFD, in an effort to align with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) — a congressional law that aims to keep Native American children with Native families — created an all-woman, all-Native American ICWA unit within the child protective services division. Additionally, the state’s first — and only the nation’s sixth — ICWA court officially … Read more

The Necessity of the Indian Child Welfare Act : A case now before the Fifth Circuit threatens to upend the laws that enable Native self-governance.

The case centers on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which was designed to protect American Indian communities against state-led efforts to break up Native families. The challengers in the case—several Republican-led states and non-Native families seeking to adopt Native children—are attempting to invalidate ICWA’s restrictions on breaking up Native families and on non-Native families … Read more

Tribe, state look for ways to improve child protective services

Northern Arapaho leaders and state officials are looking for ways to improve a child protective services program that the tribe says needs more money from the state to be more effective. Gov. Mark Gordon and Northern Arapaho Tribe leaders met last week to discuss the tribe’s child protective and social services, which is funded with … Read more

Bipartisan, Bicameral Group of Lawmakers File Amicus Brief Supporting the Indian Child Welfare Act

The amicus brief urges the Fifth Circuit to uphold the court’s previous decision affirming the constitutionality of IWCA. The decision the Fifth Circuit issued in August reversed an unprecedented ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas which wrongly struck down ICWA as unconstitutional. Read the full press release and view … Read more

Indian Child Welfare Act court hearing scheduled for January 2020

Get ready for round two. Oral arguments in a closely-watched Indian Child Welfare Act case will take place on January 22, 2020. After offering a tentative date last month, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals made it official on Wednesday. The case known as Brackeen v. Bernhardt will go before an en banc panel of judges … Read more

Seeking Native American foster parents for the first-of-its-kind “Simply Smiles Children’s Village” on the Cheyenne River Reservation

Simply Smiles, Inc. is seeking Native American foster parents for the Simply Smiles Children’s Village on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation (South Dakota). … Native foster parents at the Simply Smiles Children’s Village will ensure that Native children who have been removed from their homes on Cheyenne River can remain with their “kin and … Read more

Indian child welfare legal challenge is about ending tribal sovereignty

Attacks on the law, enacted in 1978, have inexplicably risen in the past seven years and attracted the support of a seemingly disparate array of high power ultra conservative players and organizations. Today’s challenges to the child welfare protocols aren’t only about adoption because if the Indian Child Welfare Act is found to be unconstitutional … Read more

38th Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect

March 29–April 1, 2020Denver, Colorado Each year, NICWA hosts the largest national gathering on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) child advocacy issues. With over 1,400 attendees—and growing every year—this four-day conference has become the premiere national event addressing tribal child welfare and well-being. Keynote speakers range from federal officials at the highest level of … Read more

Pima County considering new court for American Indian child welfare cases

Pima County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Quigley said having an ICWA court would allow a legal team to specialize in these cases, much like with a mental health or drug court. “Instead of having 14 judges deal with ICWA cases, we’d have one judge who would deal with it the same way, so everybody could … Read more

Montana view: Child Welfare Act court making a difference

The Yellowstone County District Court is working to improve the outcome for Native children with the Indian Child Welfare Act Court launched 18 months ago with Judge Rod Souza presiding. It is one of only six ICWA courts in the nation. Read the full article at the Montana Standard website.

Who Should Be Allowed To Adopt Native American Children?

Native American tribes got a big win in August when a federal court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, a pivotal 1978 law that requires states to prioritize placing Native children in foster or adoptive homes with Native families over non-Native families.  But the decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals … Read more

Tribal families get priority in Native American adoptions. An appeals court will decide whether that’s fair.

In the 40 years since Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act, the law has been criticized in legal challenges that have climbed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the ICWA, as the act is known, has always prevailed. Now its constitutionality is being questioned again. On Thursday, the U.S. Court of … Read more

‘We’re under attack’: Tribes defend Indian Child Welfare Act in critical case

After initially deciding the closely-watched case in favor of Indian Country, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it will hear the dispute all over again. A larger set of judges will now scrutinize the landmark law but tribal nations remain confident that their sovereign rights and their most precious resource — their children — will win … Read more

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

The complicated nature of Native American adoptions: Does a Utah court ruling conflict with federal law?

More than 40 years after the federal law took effect, the child welfare system continues to absorb a disproportionate number of Native American children nationally and in Utah, noted Alisa Lee, Indian child welfare program administrator for the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. Data provided by Lee’s office shows that roughly 5% of … 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

Records Show Petersen’s Firm Planned Native Adoption, Raising Legal Questions

Emails to the adoptive family from the director of Bright Star Adoptions, an adoption firm for which Petersen served as general counsel, suggest that concerns came up about the firm’s compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act following Petersen’s arrest. Read the full article at the Phoenix New Times website. Read related news: “Indigenous Lawmakers … Read more

The U.S. stole generations of Indigenous children to open the West

Carlisle, and boarding schools like it, are remembered as a dark chapter in the history of the ill-conceived assimilation policies designed to strip Native people of their cultures and languages by indoctrinating them with U.S. patriotism. But child removal is a longstanding practice, ultimately created to take away Native land. Although Carlisle is located in … Read more

Protecting Native American Children

In ‘Brackeen v. Bernhardt’, decided on Aug. 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Indian Child Welfare Act was constitutional. We applaud the Fifth Circuit for upholding this federal law that is vital to safeguarding the welfare of Indian children. Read the full article at the New York … Read more

Advocates raise red flag on proposed repeal of majority of Nebraska child welfare regulations

Nearly 200 pages of child welfare regulations are proposed for repeal by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and will be replaced by less than a dozen pages of regulations on adoption, the Indian Child Welfare Act and alternative response. Read the full article at the Beatrice Daily Sun website.

‘A historic leap forward’: ND tribes sign updated agreement with state over child welfare services

The leaders of four American Indian tribes in North Dakota have signed a new agreement with the state over federal funding for child welfare services, including allowing tribes to license foster care parents on and off reservations. Read the full article at the Bismark Tribune website.

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

Indian Country Fights to Protect Its Children and Preserve Its Sovereignty

As president of both the Quinault Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Fawn Sharp is a busy person. As of late, much of her time has been dedicated to the fight for Native children and, more broadly, tribal sovereignty. Sharp knows firsthand how difficult it is for Native parents hoping to provide a … 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

Navajo Nation v. Department of Child Safety, April 18, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Arizona)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: After child, a member of a Native American tribe, was removed from biological mother’s care by Department of Child Safety, mother moved to appoint child’s foster placement, who was not affiliated with child’s family or tribe or any Native American organization, as child’s permanent guardian, and tribe indicated that mother or … 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

Mitchell v. Preston, April 16,2019 (Supreme Court of Wyoming)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Following extensive litigation in child custody action, 2018 WY 110, 426 P.3d 830, father, an Indian tribe member who kept child on reservation, filed motion to establish jurisdiction in tribal court and motion for change of venue, seeking an order relinquishing permanent child custody jurisdiction to the tribal court. Mother, who was … 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

Matter of Guardianship I.L.J.E., December 12, 2018 (Supreme Court of South Dakota)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Brother and sister-in-law of mother killed by child’s father petitioned for guardianship of child, but father requested that his sister, a Native American, be appointed guardian of child, who was an enrolled member of a tribe. The Circuit Court, Third Judicial Circuit, Brookings County, Gregory J. Stoltenburg, J., granted brother and sister-in-law’s … Read more

In re Shirley T., January 3, 2019 (Supreme Judicial Court of Maine)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceeding involving children deemed to be Indian children under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), parents and Indian tribe moved to transfer jurisdiction of matter to Tribal Court. The Portland District Court, Powers, J., denied the motions. Parents appealed. Holding provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Judicial Court, Gorman, J., … Read more

In re Interest of Mercedes L., January 15, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Nebraska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceedings, the County Court, Platte County, Frank J. Skorupa, J., approved a change in permanency objective for mother and each of her six minor children from reunification to guardianship. Mother appealed, and appeals were consolidated. Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeals held that: 1) orders issued by … Read more

In re. L.D. v. M.J., January 24, 2019 (Court of Appeals of California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County department of family and children’s services filed juvenile dependency petition on behalf of nine-year-old child who may have Native Alaskan ancestry. The Superior Court, Santa Clara County, No. 17JD024833, Michael L. Clark, J., found sufficient notice was sent, pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), to Athabascan Indian tribe … Read more

In re Interest of Audrey T., January 29, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Nebraska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: State filed an adjudication petition alleging that mother was unable to meet child’s basic needs for care and protection, mother used inappropriate discipline, and mother’s mental-health issues put child at risk of abuse and/or neglect. The County Court, Scotts Bluff County, James M. Worden, J., entered an order placing temporary custody of … Read more

Interest of D.E.D.I, January 31, 2019 (Court of Appeals of Texas)

Synopsis from Westlaw: Father appealed order of 446th District Court, Ector County, terminating his parental rights to Indian child. Holding from Westlaw: The Court of Appeals, Jim R. Wright, Senior Chief Justice, held that trial court was able to determine that Indian tribe’s representative was qualified as an expert witness. Affirmed. Read the full decision … Read more

Matter of S.R., February 21, 2019 (Supreme Judicial Court of Montana)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Public Health and Human Services petitioned to terminate mother’s parental rights to children. The District Court, Silver Bow County, Brad Newman, J., terminated rights. Mother appealed, arguing that District Court had possessed reason to know that children could have been eligible for tribal enrollment so as to trigger Indian Child … 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