Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT IN CALIFORNIA
"The year was 1968 and members of the Devils Lake Sioux Tribe of North Dakota were concerned about the treatment of American Indian children by local county welfare officials. The children were routinely removed from their families and placed in foster homes and for adoption with non-Indian couples. To make matters worse, all of these actions were carried out without consultation with either tribal officials or the Indian community. Although many other tribal groups had experienced similar treatment but had not chosen or had felt powerless to respond, the Devils Lake Sioux Community decided to challenge these actions. They requested assistance from the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) in New York, founded in 1923 to defend the rights of American Indians and Alaskan Natives and to promote social, economic, and civic equality for their communities. AAIA's decision to become involved set in motion a chain of events that ultimately resulted in the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) a decade later. The circumstances and activities that led to the passage of the ICWA can be understood in the context of relevant historical background and contemporary factors, issues, and activities". (Child Welfare League of America, January/February 1995).
In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (Public Law 95-608, November 8, 1978)
- to protect the best interests of Indian children,
- to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families, and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture, and
- to provide assistance to Indian tribes in the operation of children and family service programs (25 United States Code Section 1902).
In regard to foster care, ICWA recognized the tribes' involvement in the provision of child welfare services to Indian children, and required that, when necessary, the preferred placement of an Indian child in foster care be the home of the Indian child's extended family, or a licensed or approved foster home, as specified by the Indian child's tribe (25 U.S.C. 1915 (B)). California's system for the provision of child welfare services and for out-of-home placements is delegated at the local level to each of the 58 county welfare departments. The delivery of care, supervision, and services to these children is provided by the county welfare departments, probation departments, and Indian Tribes.
The Child Safety Unit is housed within the Child Welfare Policy and Program Development Bureau and supports work being done statewide to promote the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and related Indian Child Welfare activities. Unit staff hosts the Indian Child Welfare Act Workgroup and its subcommittees formed to address specific issues as the need arises, such as the Permanency for Indian Children and Youth Subcommittee, the Training Subcommittee, etc. The unit drafts policy directives, promulgates regulations, etc. The unit also oversees the contract with the Administrative Office of the Courts, Center for Children, Youth and Families for the ICWA Initiative. Staff provides training and technical assistance to tribes, counties and many others on ICWA related issues, including Tribal/State Title IV-E Agreements. The unit also supports the annual State ICWA Conference.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
California Department of Social Services
Child Welfare Policy and Program Development Bureau
744 P Street, MS 8-11-87
Sacramento, CA 95814
- ICWA Resources and Job Aids
- ICWA Workgroup Information
- CDSS Tribal Consultation Process
- County/Tribe Protocols for Collaboration
- County Letters and Notices
- Legislation and Regulations