The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

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The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, was enacted by Congress with a goal of protecting Native American children while preserving the family unit (Turner, 2016). The ICWA created a guideline for the removal of Indian children and established a set of requirements for child welfare systems to abide by (Bussey, 2013). In accordance to the ICWA, child welfare agencies must follow the guidelines first by verifying if a child is enrolled with a tribe or suspected to be eligible for enrollment (ICWA, 1978). In addition, the act acknowledges federally recognized tribes as having sovereignty in making decisions about the welfare of Indian children who are members of their tribe (Matheson, 1996). The Act was created to address the disparity…show more content…
The Indian Child Welfare Act effected tribal members from over 565 federally recognized tribes and reaffirmed these nation’s sovereignty (Leake, 2012). The ICWA also impacted the way that federal, tribal and private child welfare programs as well as the way adoption agencies worked on a daily basis. According to Bussey (2013), the Act also forced CPS departments at both the state and county level to develop, “…formalized protocols to identify Native children by asking about American Indian/Alaska Native status beginning with the first telephone or in-person contact with a family.” In addition, courts and judges have been impacted by the ICWA because they now have a responsibility to, “inquire about Native heritage at each court appearance until heritage is ascertained” (Bussey, 2013). Early detection of Native heritage is especially important for placements since it could potentially interrupt the adoption process (Turner, 2016). Furthermore, “Among the benefits of early identification of Native children are improved tribal notification and involvement, increased focus on locating relative placements, and timely referrals to culturally-responsive services” (Bussey,…show more content…
As previously mentioned, society has a history of oppression and forced assimilation of the Native population. Today, society still fails to regard tribes as being sovereign nations within our nation. But, social movements like the Dakota Access Pipeline protests are shifting societies view of tribal nations as being autonomous. Media coverage of such issues is important because it reaches a wider audience and helps gain attention for tribal issues. Outreach programs like the one I work for also help to mediate between CPS and tribes on behalf of Indian children’s welfare and support the ICWA’s
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