The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is a Federal law that governs the removal and out-of-home placement of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and youth. The law was enacted after the Federal Government recognized that AI/AN children and youth were being removed from their homes and communities at a severely disproportionate rate compared to non-AI/AN children and youth.  

ICWA governs State child welfare proceedings in several ways. It establishes minimum Federal standards for the removal of AI/AN children from their families, delineates the roles of State and Tribal governments in child welfare cases, establishes preference for placement with family and Tribal members, and institutes protections for parents regarding the termination of parental rights.  

ICWA was enacted in response to historically disproportionate removal practices targeting AI/AN families. It is one of the key components in protecting the rights and culture of AI/AN children and families.  

Find resources on this page about the history, procedures, and standards of the act. Adjust the filters below to refine your list of resources.   

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