The Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs has just updated the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings. The guidelines support the purpose of ICWA and provide what many feel is long-overdue guidance to state courts and agencies as they work to ensure full implementation of the law. See the new guidelines in Federal Register Vol. 80, No. 37.
An excerpt from the News Release announcing the updated guidelines: “In keeping with President Obama’s commitment to supporting Indian families and building resilient, thriving tribal communities, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn today announced action the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has taken to help prevent the further dissolution of American Indian and Alaska Native families through the misapplication of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 (Public Law 95-608).
“For too many years, some of Indian Country’s youngest and most vulnerable members have been removed from their families, their cultures, and their identities,” said Assistant Secretary Washburn. “Congress worked hard to address this problem by enacting the Indian Child Welfare Act. Yet, today too many people are unaware of this important law and, unfortunately, there are some that work actively to undermine it. Our updated guidelines for state courts will give families and tribal leaders comfort that the Obama Administration is working hard to provide better clarity so that the courts can carry out Congress’ intent to protect tribal families, preserve tribal communities, and promote tribal continuity now and into the future.”
See the full news release.