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December/January 2015Vol. 15, No. 11ICWA Compliance Assessment Toolkit

The October issue of Children's Bureau Express (CBX) explored Tribal child welfare. Of particular concern was the continued disproportionality of American Indian children in foster care more than 30 years after the enactment of the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Research suggests that courts in many States still do not fully understand the ICWA requirements for notification to a child's Tribe, active efforts to prevent placement, and preference for placement with the child's Tribe. To help State courts assess their level of compliance with ICWA requirements, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) published Measuring Compliance With the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit.

The toolkit describes four data collection approaches, including case file reviews, court observation, surveys, and focus groups. It discusses the pros and cons of the different approaches in terms of level of effort and ability to collect reliable quantitative and qualitative data. Sample tools or questions for the respective approaches are provided, and how to use the data to inform practice improvement is discussed.

NCJFCJ Program Director Alicia Summers and researcher Steve Wood authored the toolkit. Measuring Compliance With the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit is available on the NCJFCJ website at   

The October CBX Spotlight on Tribal child welfare is available at