On Wednesday, June 8, the Bureau of Indian Affairs released a long awaited set of regulations or final rule on the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Final Rule which will be implemented in 180 days, is the result of more than 2000 comments submitted after a proposed rule had been published in March 2015.
CWLA issued a statement that said in part:
“The regulations put forward a standard of practice for Indian children and families that is consistent with other federal law and nationally-recognized practice standards (including CWLA’s) for all children. As part of a coalition of 18 nationally-recognized child advocacy organizations, we recognize ICWA as the “gold standard” in child welfare practice…With these regulations, CWLA will redouble its work to ensure that service providers fully implement ICWA and the CWLA standards of excellence in child welfare.”
The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted by Congress in 1978 in response to the tragic history from the late 19th and early 20th centuries when it was federal policy that forced Indian children to leave their homes and tribes to attend boarding schools. Later from 1958 to 1967, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) was part of a national policy with BIA to place Native American children with white families. A history that CWLA formally apologized for in 2001.
The BIA outlines ICWA’s main goals to include: recognizing Tribal jurisdiction over decisions for their Indian children; establishing minimum federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families; establishing preferences for placement of Indian children with extended family or other listed foster or adoptive homes; and instituting protections to ensure that birth parents’ voluntary relinquishments of their children are truly voluntary.
Some current critics have attacked ICWA through verbal, anecdotal and legal assaults as harming children through delays and improper placements. A 2005 GAO Report, however, did not find evidence of such harm, indicating that “no consistent differences when comparing the length of time they