Indian Child Welfare Act
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families. Congress passed ICWA in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to "protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families" (25 U.S.C. § 1902). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
ICWA is an integral policy framework on which tribal child welfare programs rely. It provides a structure and requirements for how public and private child welfare agencies and state courts view and conduct their work to serve tribal children and families. It also acknowledges and promotes the role that tribal governments play in supporting tribal families, both on and off tribal lands. However, as is the case with many laws, proper implementation of ICWA requires vigilance, resources, and advocacy.
For more information: National Indian Child Welfare Association: http://www.nicwa.org/Indian_Child_Welfare_Act/