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Indian Child Welfare Act

The Redwood Valley Rancheria Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Department provides culturally appropriate preventive and ongoing services and referrals to service providers for Redwood Valley Rancheria member families and children who are involved with or at risk of involvement with county or state child welfare systems.


Services and referrals that are made to culturally appropriate service providers include: family visitation in a safe environment, substance use disorder treatment, domestic violence and anger management treatment, individual and family counseling, parenting education classes and support groups, and housing assistance.

 

ICWA's Purpose

The purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is "...to protect the best interest of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children and placement of such children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture... "(25 U.S. C. 1902).


ICWA is a statute passed by Congress in 1978 to address the agency policies and practices that resulted in the wholesale separation of Indian children from their families. 

  • State and private agencies were removing as many as 25 - 35% of Indian children from their families and placing many of these children in non-Indian foster and adoptive homes. 

  • Congress determined that cultural ignorance and biases within the child welfare system were significant causes of this problem. 

  • Congress recognized that it is in the best interest of the child to maintain Tribal connections and that children are vital to Tribes’ continued existence, and enacted ICWA to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian Tribes and families.”


The 2016 ICWA final rule includes protections for Indian children that reflect the “gold standard” in child welfare practices.  The rule promotes stability for the child by requiring early inquiry as to whether ICWA applies, by minimizing unnecessary separation of children and their parents, and by maximizing early placements of the child with extended family and other preferred placements.  The rule also incorporates the best practice in child welfare of favoring extended family placements, including placement within a child’s broader kinship community, and placement with siblings (regardless of whether they are also “Indian children”).


Source: Bureau of Indian Affairs Final Rule: Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Proceedings, Final Version – June 17, 2016