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 the full article at The Salt Lake Tribune.

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 the total 4,659 children in the Utah foster care system are Native American, though census figures indicate just 1% of the state’s population belongs to the demographic group.

Read the full article at the Deseret News website.

Utah Signs Inter-Governmental Agreement to Support Navajo Families

February 5, 2019
Yesterday, 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 principles of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). It states the intent to support the fundamentals of ICWA, to adhere to the tribal processes concerning families and children, and to ensure that when a Navajo child is unable to return home, they will be placed with a Navajo family.

Read the full press release and related news coverage at the Utah Office of the Attorney General website.

State in Interest of M.D., January 7, 2016 (Utah)

Synopsis from Westlaw: A petition to terminate father’s parental rights to his three Indian children was filed. The Third District Juvenile Court, Salt Lake Department, No. 1094548, Charles D. Behrens, J., terminated parental rights. Father appealed.

Holdings from Westlaw: The Court of Appeals held that evidence supported finding that the State made active efforts to prevent the breakup of father’s Indian family and to reunify father with his children.

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.

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 is transferred from state to tribal jurisdiction.

•Tools and techniques to mending the balance of communication in family meetings.

•The recruitment of Native American foster homes.

•Utah’s efforts to lead the way in state/tribe collaboration.

•The voice of the children: A youth panel.

There is no cost to attend, however registration is necessary to get accurate lodging and meal counts:

For more information, contact Utah Foster Care’s Native American Foster Family Recruiter Brandi Sweet-Tsosie at (877) 505-5437.

Utahn Hopes to Recruit American Indian Foster Families

Brandi Sweet is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota, but that heritage is only partly why she is a perfect fit for the newly created post of American-Indian foster family recruiter at Utah Foster Care.

Sweet knows what it is like to be a child in foster care. She was one.

Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune website.

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare ActThe Guide is intended to answer questions and provide a comprehensive resource of information on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The online version at http://www.narf.org/icwa was created as a complement to the print version of the Guide, which was printed by the Native American Rights Fund in 2007.

While the topical sections are identical to the print version, the electronic copy has links to thousands of state and federal resources (cases, laws, etc.). In addition to the materials available in the original 360 page print edition, the online version includes more recent cases and a short list of recent ICWA news.