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FAQ ICWA 2016

Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Final Rule: FAQs on ICWA Proceedings

SOURCE: Bureau of Indian Affairs
SUBJECT: Child Welfare
TYPE: Report
YEAR PRODUCED: 2016
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has released a series of frequently asked questions related to its recent final rule pertaining to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) proceedings.
ICWA, enacted by Congress in 1978, governs State child-custody proceedings in multiple ways, including: (1) by recognizing Tribal jurisdiction over decisions for their Indian children; (2) by establishing minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families; (3) by establishing preferences for placement of Indian children with extended family or other Tribal families; and (4) by instituting protections to ensure that birth parents’ voluntary relinquishments of their children are truly voluntary.
The recent rule incorporates child-welfare best practices and promotes uniformity in State ICWA proceedings—no matter the child welfare worker, judge, or state handling the case—while still taking into account the unique circumstances of each child.
The 11-page document includes questions such as
  • What, specifically, does this rule do?
  • How does the rule clarify the applicability of ICWA?
  • How does the rule address the so-called “existing Indian family (EIF)” exception?
  • What are the rule’s requirements for emergency proceedings?
  • What are the rule’s requirements for transferring child-custody proceedings to Tribal court?
  • What are the rule’s requirements for qualified expert witnesses?
  • How do I find a qualified expert witness with knowledge of the Tribe’s social and cultural standards? What are the rule’s requirements for placement preferences?
  • Does the rule allow State courts to depart from the placement preferences if a child has bonded with a nonpreferred placement?
  • What if no preferred placements are available? How does the rule protect a birth parent’s privacy in voluntary proceedings?
  • Does this rule affect a parent’s right to choose who adopts their child in voluntary adoptions? ..
Access the FAQs here.

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

Indian Country is under attack. We need you. Please join the ranks of Modern Day Warriors. Please donate today to help Native people protect their rights.

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