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March 2009Vol. 10, No. 2Iowa Provides ICWA Guidance

A new practice bulletin released by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services focuses on the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), relevant State legislation, and the implications for child welfare practice. ICWA seeks to preserve the integrity of Indian culture by preventing unnecessary removal of children from their Tribes and families and by recognizing Indian children as members of sovereign Tribal governments. The bulletin illustrates key ICWA requirements by outlining the standards in clear language and provides recommendations for child welfare workers.

In 2003, the Iowa legislature adopted the Iowa ICWA to best address the needs of Native American children and their families in that State. The Iowa ICWA builds even stronger protections for Indian families by requiring the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide active efforts in order to prevent the removal of a child. The practice bulletin lists ways in which child welfare agencies and workers can incorporate these requirements into practice.

In Iowa, technical assistance and training on ICWA matters are available through Meskwaki Family Services, a Tribal child welfare services program. An agreement between the State and the Tribe allows the Tribe to access title IV-E funds for foster care expenses of children in Tribal court. The agreement also allows Iowa DHS to work cooperatively with Meskwaki Family Services to provide child welfare services to Tribal children and families.

The practice bulletin, from November 2008, is available on the Iowa DHS website: (267 KB)