Child Protective Services

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

“Let us put our minds together and see
what kind of life we can build for our children.”

Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux

In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), in response to a national crisis in which an alarmingly high percentage of Indian children were being removed from their families and tribal communities. Below you will find out more information about ICWA.

Implementation of ICWA in South Dakota

Bills Passed During the 2005 Legislative Session:

  1. HB 1226 – An Act to establish certain notice provisions  related to the custody and placement of Indian children.
  2. SB 12 – An Act to provide a preference for placement of abused and neglected children with relatives and to provide a hearing for review of adoptive placement decisions.

Bill Passed During the 2006 Legislative Session:

  1. HB 1051 - An Act to revise certain provisions regarding notice to a tribe of a child custody proceeding subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

Indian Child Welfare Act Commission:

The Governor’s Commission on the Indian Child Welfare Act (the “Commission”) was created through passage of Senate Bill 211 during the 2004 South Dakota Legislative session. 

The Commission was charged to study the requirements of the ICWA (25 U.S.C. §§1901-1963), including:

  • Compliance with the requirements for notice
  • Placement
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Intervention
  • Transfer of jurisdiction
  • Active efforts
  • Means by which Indian tribes could assist in pursuing the policies of ICWA

The work of the Commission included an Analysis of Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act in South Dakota conducted by the National Center for State Courts, in partnership with the Native American Legal Services, as well as the Commission’s Report on the Indian Child Welfare Act.  The foregoing reports were presented to Governor Rounds and the members of the 2005 South Dakota Legislature.  Each contained numerous recommendations for the state and the tribes to improve the outcomes for Indian children who enter the child welfare system. The Commission ceased to exist on December 31, 2004.

The first recommendation of the Commission was the Commission should be extended in order to assist in the implementation of its other recommendations.  This recommendation was accomplished by Governor Rounds through Executive Order 2005-08, which re-established the Commission. The Executive Order directed the Commission to focus its efforts on implementation of the top 30 recommendations found in the Commission’s earlier report.  Further, the Commission was directed to review each of the foregoing recommendations to determine, in regard to the implementation of each recommendation, the entity or entities responsible, actions plans, timelines, and barriers to implementation. 

The Commission was also directed to issue a report to the Governor by November 30, 2005.

ICWA Program Specialist:

As a result of the South Dakota ICWA Commission Report, it was recommended to hire a statewide ICWA Coordinator to help enforce a statewide ICWA compliance plan. This position was created in February 2005.

  • Joseph A. Ashley, ICWA Program Specialist
    South Dakota Department of Social Services
    Division of Child Protection Services
    700 Governors Drive
    Pierre, SD 57501
  • Phone: 605-773-3227
  • Fax: 605-773-6834
  • Email: 

Tribal IV-E Agreements:

The Indian Child Welfare Act authorizes State and Indian Tribes to enter into agreements with each other regarding care and custody of Indian Children.  

Title IV-E of the Social Security Act also authorizes State and Tribes to enter into Title IV-E Agreements for the payment of foster care for children determined to be eligible for Title IV-E funding and for administrative funding associated with staffing and training of staff and foster and adoptive parents.

The Indian Child Welfare Act ensures Indian families receive culturally appropriate services, consistent with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), in the areas of:

  • Child protective services
  • Foster care
  • Dependency guardianship
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Adoption proceedings