There are 574 Federally recognized Tribes in the United States. As sovereign nations, Tribes manage their own child welfare systems to support American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) families and honor Tribal values and priorities.
AI/AN children and youth are overrepresented in child welfare systems nationwide. Tribes also have experienced generational trauma related to child removal, including the forced placement of AI/AN children in boarding schools designed to strip them of their culture. To effectively engage Tribal families and communities, child welfare professionals must be aware of this history of violence, displacement, and forced assimilation. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) is a major piece of Federal legislation that protects the rights of Native communities and governs child welfare practice involving Native families.
In this section, find resources to help you build an understanding of key topics related to Tribal child welfare, including the history of policies and practices that harmed Native families and led to them experiencing historical trauma, ICWA, and how States can work in partnership with Tribes on various child welfare issues.
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Indian Child Welfare Act
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is a Federal law that governs child welfare practice involving American Indian and Alaska Native children and youth.
Capacity Building Center for Tribes
Learn about collaborations with American Indian and Alaska Native nations to help strengthen Tribal child and family systems and services and find resources and tools to support Tribal child welfare professionals in their child welfare practice.
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Learn how the Bureau of Indian Affairs works to enhance quality of life, promote economic opportunity and self-determination, and carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Tribes, and Alaska Natives.
National Indian Child Welfare Association
Discover how the National Indian Child Welfare Association works to address child abuse and neglect in Tribal communities and partners with Tribal and urban Indian child welfare programs to implement culturally competent, community-based programs.
Addressing Historical Trauma and Preparing the Child Welfare Workforce
Watch a video that features an elder from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians discussing historical grief and trauma and the importance of preparing the child welfare workforce to more effectively work with American Indian/Alaska Native families.
Resource Library - Tribal Child Welfare
Discover resources for child welfare workers to strengthen public and Tribal child welfare services and to support Tribal sovereignty along with the safety, permanency, and well-being of American Indianan/Alaska Native children, youth, and families.
Links to State and Tribal Child Welfare Law and Policy
Find web addresses for State statutes that are accessible online and review the parts of the code for each State and territory that contain laws addressing Tribal child protection, adoption, child welfare, legal guardianship, and youth services.
Indian Child Welfare Act; Designated Tribal Agents for Service of Notice
Examine the current list of designated Tribal agents for service of notice under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law provides that Indian Tribes may designate an agent other than the Tribal chairman for service of notice of proceedings.
Search Federally Recognized Tribes
Search a list of Federally recognized Tribes from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which works to enhance the quality of life, promote economic opportunity, and protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
Browse a listing of Tribal nations from the National Congress of American Indians, a non-profit organization that advocates for a bright future for American Indians/Alaska Natives and serves the broad interests of Tribal governments and communities.