Media Night on 5/25/17: Indian Child Welfare Act with Melanie Sage and National Indian Child Welfare Association

Transcript from this chat:

For our Maimagesy Media Night, we will be talking about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA, a federal law passed in 1978, seeks to keep American Indian and Alaskan Native children with their families. Although nearly forty years have passed since this problem was identified and a legal intervention made, American Indian children are still significantly overrepresented in foster care. The ICWA law is often not properly upheld, and has not addressed the problem it was designed to fix. There are no clear means of enforcing ICWA outside of court appeal.

Major components of ICWA include: 1) the need for active efforts to prevent removal of AI/AN children from their families and to reunify them as soon as there are no longer imminent risks to safety; 2) placement preference to keep children with family, cultural community, or an AI/AN family if they must be placed out of home or adopted; and 3) communication with the tribe with whom the child is enrolled whenever the public child welfare agency intervenes.

Here is a link to four short YouTube videos that share the stories of families affected by ICWA:

These stories were produced by National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and are called The Heart of ICWA.

Our guest hosts will be Melanie Sage (@melaniesage) , PhD, LICSW, Assistant Professor at the University of North Dakota, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association (@NativeChildren).

MelanieSageMelanie Sage is a child welfare researcher, and is currently leading a statewide ICWA compliance improvement project. This $2.5 million federally funded project seeks to bring stakeholders together across systems to improve ICWA compliance and the rate at which AI/AN children are protected safely with their families and in their communities after contact with child welfare systems.

downloadThe National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is a national voice for American Indian children and families. We are the most comprehensive source of information on American Indian child welfare and the only national American Indian organization focused specifically on the tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect.  NICWA is a private, nonprofit, membership organization based in Portland, Oregon. Our members include tribes, individuals—both Indian and non-Indian—and private organizations from around the United States concerned with American Indian child and family issues.

Our #MacroSW Partner facilitating the chat is Laurel Hitchcock (@laurelhitchcock).

Here are the questions we hope to discuss during the chat:

  1. Why is the ICWA federal law of 1978 insufficient for changing child welfare practice?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to enforce ICWA, and how should they be held accountable?
  3. How can child welfare agencies become more responsive to the value of family and cultural connections?
  4. How can social workers be better advocates for ICWA?
  5. What will you do to defend ICWA?
  6. What was the most piece of information you learned about ICWA from this chat and why?

About #MacroSW:

#MacroSW is a collaboration of social workers, organizations, social work schools, and individuals working to promote macro social work practice. Macro social work practice focuses on changing larger systems, such as communities and organizations. It encompasses a broad spectrum of actions and ideas, ranging from community organizing and education to legislative advocacy and policy analysis. The chats are held weekly on Twitter every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. PST). Click here for a list of chat partners. For information about how to participate in the #MacroSW chat, view our FAQs. For chat schedule and chat archives check out:

About #MacroSW Media Nights:

Tune in for our once a month #MacroSW Media Night to talk about different social problems highlighted by the press. We’ll feature a video, podcast, blog post or article that features a hot topic. These chats are ideal for class assignment or extra credit opportunity.  For the chat schedule:

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