• October 2021
  • Vol. 22, No. 9

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Indian Child Welfare Act Primer for Child Welfare Professionals

Child Welfare Information Gateway released a factsheet that provides caseworkers with information about how to apply the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to their practice. The factsheet, The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Primer for Child Welfare Professionals, includes a brief overview of the history of child welfare practice with tribes, including factors affecting tribal-state relations and federal legislation affecting child welfare practice with tribes. In addition, the factsheet provides a brief discussion of the practice implications of ICWA, such as determining whether ICWA is applicable to a child welfare case and what to do if a child is determined be American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN), transferring jurisdiction to the appropriate tribal authority, implementing active efforts to maintain or reunite a child with their family, removing a child from the home and terminating parental rights, and placing an AI/AN child in out-of-home care.

The factsheet also includes a list of cultural considerations to keep in mind when working with AI/AN families: 

  • AI/AN individuals and communities are affected by varying levels of trauma, including intergenerational trauma. 
  • AI/AN individuals can be found in all areas of the country. 
  • AI/AN ancestry cannot be determined by how a person looks or their family name. 
  • Each tribe has its own history, culture, and customs. 
  • Asking questions about cultural issues should be done respectfully. 
  • Consider that communication styles, the role of elders, etiquette, and other cultural components of tribes may differ from those of nontribal communities. 
To learn more about how ICWA affects child welfare practice and to find a listing of additional resources, read The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Primer for Child Welfare Professionals

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