May 1, 2005
Table of Contents
Introduction 3 Tribal Placement History . 3 Explanation of the Indian Child Welfare Act 4 Explanation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act .. 5 Adoption Statistic's Figure . 6 Conclusion 8 References 9
Indian Child Welfare
Can the Federal government, State government, and sovereign nations effectively mesh their practices and policies to adequately meet the safety and placement needs of American Indian Children? The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was made a federal law in 1978 after many years of political struggles between Native American Indian tribal leaders, state agencies, various church groups and court systems. "By passing the law Congress hoped to prevent the continuing abuses of power by state agencies, the courts, and various church groups in the disruption of Indian families by enacting procedures for the removal and foster placement of Indian children and defining the roles and responsibilities of authority." (Matheson, 1996, p.233).
The Indian Child Welfare Act brought with it the hope that the law would protect Indian communities, tribes, and families against further disintegration of their traditional systems.
Native American Indians have experienced massive losses of lives, land, and culture from Caucasian contact and colonization resulting in a long legacy of chronic trauma and unresolved grief across generations. Congress has vacillated between two conflicting themes: self-government for tribes and assimilation of the reservations into the existing framework of state and local government. Removal of children from Native American family and culture for assimilation into the dominant mainstream society- children were placed in government boarding schools and Christian mission schools, where they would be educated to be Caucasian. When a Native American family resisted mandatory schooling at the boarding schools, "Congress responded by authorizing the withholding of food and clothing rations from them." (George, 1997)
During the 1950's the boarding schools began to close, people became concerned about the number of children that would be returned to the reservations and a life of poverty if other arrangements could not be found. Native American children were then placed in non-Indian homes for long term care and adoption. This new adoption trend resulted in 25%-35% of Native children had been separated from their families by state courts, welfare agencies, and private adoption agencies. (George, 1997)
The Indian Child Welfare Act states that child abuse and neglect cases that involve foster care and adoption of Indian children must give tribes the opportunity to take jurisdiction to move court proceedings to a tribal court as opposed to the individual state courts when these children are placed out of home. The Act is a Federal Statute governing the placement of Indian children who are in any out of home placement, voluntary or involuntary by the state, county, city or government. The act applies to all public and private agencies that remove children.
There are several types if child welfare custody proceedings that apply to the Indian Child Welfare Act. One is foster placement, the temporary removal of the child from his or her biological parents. When biological parents are unable to fulfill their role, children need substitute care, shelter care, group homes, and institutional care placements. Each of these alternatives is more appropriate for some children than others. Other custody proceedings include Termination of Parental Rights, and adoption placements. Both of these custody proceedings result in a permanent plan for the child. Permanent planning is the one aspect of child welfare...