In the 1960s and 1970s, American Indian children were about six times more likely to be placed in foster care than other children and many were placed in non-American Indian homes or institutions. In 1978, the Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to protect American Indian families and to give tribes a role in making child welfare decisions for children subject to ICWA. ICWA requires that (1) tribes be notified and given an opportunity to intervene when the state places a child subject to ICWA in foster care or seeks to terminate parental rights on behalf of such a child and (2) children be placed if possible with relatives or tribal families. This report describes (1) the factors that influence placement decisions for children subject to ICWA; (2) the extent to which, if any, placements for children subject to ICWA have been delayed; and (3) federal oversight of states' implementation of ICWA.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Health and Human Services||1. To improve the usefulness of the information states are required to provide on their ICWA compliance efforts, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the head of the Administration for Children and Families to (1) review the ICWA implementation issues identified in its CFSRs, (2) require states to discuss in their annual progress reports any significant ICWA issues not addressed in their program improvement plans, and (3) consider using the information on ICWA implementation in the Child and Family Services Reviews, annual progress and services reports, and program improvement plans to target guidance and assistance to states in addressing any identified issues.|