Chat Transcription can be found here.
On October 4th, a federal judge declared the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) unconstitutional, claiming that it illegally gives Native American families preferential treatment in adoption proceedings for Native American children based on race, in violation of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee.
ICWA was created to protect against the separation of American Indian children from their families and tribes by state-run child welfare systems. ICWA serves to lessen the trauma of removal by promoting placement with family and community and has been called a gold-standard in child welfare practice.
In Brackeen v. Zinke, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in favor of Texas, Indiana and Louisiana – and several foster and adoptive couples, declaring that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was a race-based law. Brackeen v. Zinke originated in the adoption of a two-year old Cherokee and Navajo boy by a white couple, the Brackeens, in Northern Texas. Despite the fact that a Navajo family was ready and willing to take the toddler, the Brackeens won the case.
To defend ICWA, four tribes intervened to join the defendant, the U.S. Department of the Interior. The intervening tribes, Cherokee Nation, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Oneida Nation, and Quinault Indian Nation, jointly announced that they are reviewing the possibility of an appeal, and if filed, will also request a temporary suspension of the court’s decision so that all Native children in Northern Texas will still be protected.
We encourage you to reach out to your members in the House and Senate to voice support for the Indian Child Welfare Act. ICWA embodies the best practices for child welfare decisions that should be afforded to all children and embraces the bedrock principle of child welfare that it is in the best interests of the child to support, develop, and maintain a child’s ties to her acknowledged, loving, and fit birth parents.
- What should social workers know about the ICWA?
- How can social workers be better advocates for ICWA?
- What will you do to defend ICWA?
- What was the most important information you learned about ICWA from this chat and why?
- National Native American Heritage Month: Lesson Plans, Student Activities, and Historical Documents
- The Heart of ICWA: National Indian Child Welfare Association YouTube Playlist
- #MacroSW Transcript: Media Nite Chat about the Indian Child Welfare Act (5/25/17)
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