Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law passed in 1978. ICWA was passed in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies.
The intent of Congress under ICWA was to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.
ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings including foster care, guardianship, termination of parental rights, and adoption involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
Child and Family Services practice standard for implementing ICWA is the most helpful guide to understanding the policy and practices that social workers must follow. It includes definitions and is divided into six sections:
- Identifying Indian Children
- Applicability of ICWA
- Tribal notice requirements
- Types of tribal involvement
- Applying specific provisions in the law
- Legal proceedings for termination of parental rights