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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The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Primer for Child Welfare Professionals
Read an overview of current and historical issues affecting child welfare practice with American Indian and Alaska Native families; practice implications, including the application of the Indian Child Welfare Act; and cultural considerations.
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 (ICWA)
Review information from the North Dakota Department of Human Services to understand the basics of the Indian Child Welfare Act, who it applies to, and how it works.
The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Family's Guide
Find answers to questions about the Indian Child Welfare Act for American Indian and Alaska Native families and discover information on how the law protects families.
National Indian Child Welfare Association: ICWA
Learn about the Protect ICWA Campaign, established by the National Indian Child Welfare Association and other organizations to serve and support Native children, youth, and families by upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
ICWA Active Efforts as Prevention: Working Together for Better Outcomes
Learn about the importance and benefits of active efforts in relationship to Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The webinar also details States' and Tribes' respective roles in active efforts as well as best practices for ICWA efforts.
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.
National Indian Child Welfare Association: Resources for Service Providers
Find training materials, information, and resources on best practices for child welfare professionals and others who work in Tribal child welfare.
Indian Child Welfare Act
Examine current tools and resources to support child welfare agencies in measuring and ensuring compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.