ICWA stands for Indian Child Welfare Act. (25 U.S.C. § 1901, et seq.) ICWA is a multifaceted statute including provisions addressing:
This act implements the federal government's trust responsibility to tribes by protecting and preserving the bond between Indian children and their tribe and culture. Congress passed ICWA to address concerns of Indian children who were being removed from their homes and being placed with non-Indian families.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is the best resource for locating a certain tribe.
In determining adoptive placements, a preference must be given, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, the child will be placed with:
1. A member of the child's extended family,
2. Other members of the Indian child's tribe,
3. Other Indian families (25 U.S.C.A. § 1915(a).)
A tribe may intervene at "any point in the proceeding." (25 U.S.C. § 1911(c).) Tribes have a right to intervene under the act to enforce placement preferences.
What is the best-interest standard for Indian children?
To protect the best interest of Indian children, the following objectives of the act should be considered:
Congress has sought to protect Indian children by imposing minimum federal standards designed to ensure cultural bias and misunderstanding do not adversely affect an Indian child’s relationship with his or her Indian family and tribe.
If an Indian child is involved in a proceeding covered by the act, the act applies, whether or not the child’s tribe decides to become involved. A tribe may elect to participate in a state court proceeding in several capacities, including:
- Filing a petition to transfer the case to a tribal forum.
- Exercising rights granted under the act to alter the minimum federal standards.
- Intervening as a party at any point in an Indian child’s custody proceeding covered by the act.
- Providing evidence and testimony.
- Providing services in certain cases when a tribe operates child and family service programs.