Indian Child Welfare

"In 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was passed because Congress found that 'an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children.' ICWA provides many protections designed to keep Indian children safely home with their biological parents. One of these important protections is the 'active efforts standard.' ICWA states, 'Any party seeking to effect foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child under state law shall satisfy the court that active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the break-up of the Indian family and that these efforts have proved unsuccessful.' In other words, the state can only remove a child from her parents after they have made active efforts to help the family remedy the problems that make the home unsafe for the child and these efforts have failed" (NICWA, 2015).

Forced adoption and illegal foster care of Native children is at epidemic levels and in some states is an active, profitable, and illegal human trafficking system.

Statistics

  • Before the Indian Child Welfare Act was created in 1978, approximately 25-35% of all Native children were being placed in institutions, foster or adoptive homes – three times the rate of all non-Indian children.
  • In the lower 48 of the continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii and the U.S. territories), Native children are removed from homes and placed in non-Indian foster home twice as much as non-Native children.
  • Currently, while 20 percent of Alaska children are Native, 60 percent of those in foster care between 2006 and 2013 were Native. Alaska Native children were seven times more likely to be in foster care than white children.

(NICWA, 2015Institute of Social and Economic Research University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014)