Comments Regarding AFCARS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (RIN 0970–AC72)

Here are comments of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) regarding the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published on April 19, 2019, in the Federal Register (RIN 0970-AC72). Our comments will focus on the impacts of the NPRM for AI/AN children and families.

Read the full document here.

Latest Policy Update

Latest Child and Family Policy Update
Check out our latest update. Topics are included below:

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Oral Arguments in ICWA Case
ACF Considering Elimination of over 90% of Native Children’s Data Elements in AFCARS
GAO Conducting Listening Session at NICWA Annual Conference Regarding Juvenile Justice Issues
Administration for Children and Families Releases Guidance on Family First Prevention Services Act
Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Finally Signed into Law—On to Fiscal Year 2020
Opponents of ICWA Continue to Mount Challenges to ICWA in Federal Courts

Read the full Child and Family Policy Update

NICWA News | Spring 2019

Click the Fullscreen button or click here to read the newest edition of our quarterly newsletter, NICWA News. For reprint requests or additional copies, contact us at info@nicwa.org.

2019 Policy Priorities

Each year the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) identifies policy priorities that will guide our efforts and focus our resources during the calendar year. These annual priorities are developed through input from our board, staff, and tribal constituents. They reflect our mission, ongoing commitments, and our assessment of opportunities to improve services and resources for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and families.

Read the full NICWA 2019 Policy Priorities here

Latest Policy Update

Latest Child and Family Policy Update
Check out our latest update. Topics are included below:

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Oral Arguments in ICWA Case
Administration for Children and Families Releases Guidance on Family First Prevention Services Act
NICWA Submits Comments on National Foster Care Standards
Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Finally Signed into Law—On to Fiscal Year 2020
Opponents of ICWA Continue to Mount Challenges to ICWA in Federal Courts

Read the full Child and Family Policy Update

Joint Press Release from National Native Organizations on the Overwhelming Support for the Indian Child Welfare Act

(Portland, Ore., January 18, 2019)—On Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 325 tribal nations, 57 Native organizations, 21 states, 31 child welfare organizations, Indian and constitutional law scholars, and seven members of Congress joined the United States and four intervenor tribes in filing briefs to urge the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the long-standing federal law protecting the well-being of Native children by upholding family integrity and stability.

Read the full press release here.

National Native Organizations Unite and Urge the President and Congress to Re-Open the Government

(Portland, Ore., January 10, 2019)—On the 20th day of the government shutdown, eight national Native organizations are jointly urging the President and Congress to immediately end the partial government shutdown, which breaks the treaty and trust obligations the federal government owes to tribal nations. The organizations jointly sent a letter to Congress and the President outlining the wide-ranging impacts of the shutdown on Indian Country.

Read the full press release here.

Take Five for our 2019 Annual Communications Survey 

Our team would like to know more about who you are, what you like receiving from us, and how we can better communicate with you. 

Learn more and take the survey here.

Joint Statement on the Fifth Circuit Granting the Motion to Stay the District Court’s Decision on the Indian Child Welfare Act—The Gold Standard Remains Applicable in All 50 States

(Portland, Ore., December 4, 2018)—Statement from the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) about the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) judgment stay pending appeal:

Read the full press release here.

NICWA Joint Statement on the United States Department of Justice’s Decision to Defend the Indian Child Welfare Act

(Portland, Ore., December 3, 2018)—Statement from the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) regarding the United States Department of Justice’s decision to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Read the full press release here.

NICWA Partners with Two Key Stakeholders to Double Donations on #GivingTuesday

(Portland, OR, November 26, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) announces their partnerships with Spirit Rock Consulting for a 1-to-1 match up to $2,500 for #GivingTuesday and Willamette Week through the 2018 Give!Guide campaign.

Read the full press release here.

Official Statement: Joint Statement on the Federal District Court of Northern Texas denying to stay the court’s ruling on constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act

(Portland, OR, October 30, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Association on American Indian Affairs, and the Native American Rights Fund are disappointed that the Federal District Court of Northern Texas has denied a motion to stay their decision in Brackeen v. Zinke pending appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This will likely cause great uncertainty and disruption for hundreds of vulnerable Indian children and their families who are currently in state child welfare systems within the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, especially as we enter the holiday season and the Fifth Circuit moves forward with what may be months of proceedings. Indian children and families deserve better, and we hope that the Fifth Circuit will move quickly to consider a motion to stay this lower federal court decision.

# # #

Read the full joint statement here.

Official Statement: Joint Statement on Indian Child Welfare Case Brackeen v. Zinke Ruling

(Portland, OR, October 8, 2018)—In a decision published by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was declared unconstitutional, jeopardizing the landmark legislation protecting tribal children.

Read the full joint statement here.

NICWA News | Summer/Fall 2018

Click the Fullscreen button or click here to read the newest edition of our quarterly newsletter, NICWA News! For reprint requests or additional copies, contact us at info@nicwa.org.

Where We’ve Been

NICWA provides technical assistance for American Indian/Alaska Native child welfare and children’s mental health services. We emphasize empowering tribal programs and increasing their capacity. Read about our recent site visit at Sinte Gleska University. 

Official Statement from the National Indian Child Welfare Association on Trump Administration Ending the Forced Separation of Children and Families at the Border

(Portland, OR, June 20, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) calls on the Trump Administration to acknowledge that ending the policy of systematically separating children from families at the border is not over until every child is reunited with their parents and found safe and unharmed. This National Refugee Day, we recognize the parallel between children who are separated from their families at the border and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Native communities know too well the devastating impact of trauma because of historical and contemporary policies, including the unnecessary removal of Native children from their families and communities, enacted by the U.S. and state governments. The president should recognize and seek to correct the short- and long-term problems that have already been caused by this inhumane policy. Read more here.

Latest Policy Update

BIA Issues New Guidance on Criminal Background Checks for Foster Care Placements

In May, the Bureau of Indian Affairs issued official guidance on new federal law requirements regarding criminal background checks and licensing of tribal foster care placements for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children. These new requirements are contained in the Native American Children’s Safety Act (NACSA). While the NACSA requires that tribes conduct a background check of every adult (age 18 or older) who lives in a foster care home or who works in a foster care institution, many tribes do not have access to state or even federal background check databases. The BIA recommends various approaches to background checks that tribes may follow in order to comply with the NACSA. NICWA provided testimony earlier on the legislation and more recently on the proposed guidance citing concerns related to tribal access to national crime databases administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that are the source for the criminal background checks required under the law. Please contact David Simmons, NICWA Government Affairs and Advocacy Director, for further information at desimmons@nicwa.org.

Read the full text of BIA official guidelines.

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Invests in Indian Child Welfare Act Education and
Resources

(Portland, OR, June 14, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) acknowledges and thanks the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, located in Highland, California, for the generous grant to help tribal and nontribal stakeholders understand the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and facilitate proper ICWA implementation. ICWA provides important legal protections for Native children and families to prevent the unnecessary removal of children from their homes.

Read the full press release here.

NICWA News | Spring 2018

Click the Fullscreen button or click here to read the newest edition of our quarterly newsletter, NICWA News!

Latest Policy Update

Latest Child and Family Policy Update
Check out our latest update. Below are some of the more exciting topics.

Trump Administration Seeks Review of Native Children’s Data Regulations
Congress Includes Major New Child Welfare Funding in Continuing Resolutions Bill
Supporting Equity for Tribal Adoptions (H.R. 2035 and S. 876)
Congress Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY 2018
Opponents of ICWA Continue to Mount Challenges to ICWA in Federal Courts

Read the full Child and Family Policy Update

Pathways | Spring 2018

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Puyallup Indian Tribe Invests in ICWA Defense and Tribal Family Advocacy—and Challenges Other Tribes to Do the Same

(Portland, Oregon, April 5, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) thanks the Puyallup Indian Tribe located in Tacoma, Washington, for their generous gift in support of NICWA’s advocacy to protect vulnerable Native children and families in state child welfare systems through promoting state compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA acknowledges that American Indian and Alaska Native tribes have an inherent right and responsibility to protect and care for their member children and families.

Read the full press release here.

Seminole Tribe of Florida Provides Host Sponsorship of NICWA Conference

(Portland, Oregon, April 5, 2018)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association received a $25,000 host sponsorship from the Seminole Tribe of Florida for this year’s 36th Annual Protecting Our Children National American Indian Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, to be held at Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, in Anchorage, Alaska. This year’s sponsorship by the tribe will help NICWA bring a wide range of workshops and relationship-building opportunities for child welfare workers, tribal leaders, and ICWA advocates from all across Indian Country and maintain the conference as the premier national gathering to discuss best practices in Indian child welfare.

Read the full press release here.

NICWA News | Winter 2018

Click the Fullscreen button or click here to read the newest edition of our quarterly newsletter, NICWA News!

To read the full article from page 4, Protecting Indigenous Children: Three Lessons Australia Could Learn from the United States, click here.

Press Release

Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians Invests in Defending the Indian Child Welfare Act

(Portland, OR, December 21, 2017) The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) acknowledges and thanks the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) of Shelbyville, Michigan, for their generous $10,000 donation to support defending the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). ICWA provides important legal protections for Native children and families to prevent the unnecessary removal of children from their homes.

ICWA provides guidance to state and private child welfare agencies and state courts on how to effectively work with Native children and their families that have become involved in the state child welfare system. Prior to passage of ICWA, between 25%–35% of all Native children were removed from their families by state and private child welfare agencies; of these, 85% were placed outside of their families and communities—even when fit and willing relatives were available.

Read the full press release here.

The Heart of ICWA

Recognizing the need for ICWA public education materials that can be distributed widely and throughout social media channels, the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) partnered with award-winning Producer/Director Karen Odyniec and Producer Milo Daemgen to produce four short-form digital stories that are informative and emotionally resonant.

The multi-part digital storytelling series, The Heart of ICWA, features Native families sharing their stories of family upheaval, perseverance, healing, and ultimately, resilience in the face of threats to their well-being. In this series, families convey firsthand what happens when the basic protections of ICWA are followed and the devastating consequences when families and children are deprived of these basic rights.

To download a handout with more information about The Heart of ICWA, click here!

Watch the videos!

NICWA Native American Children’s Safety Act Testimony

Comments Provided by the National Indian Child Welfare Association, National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Education Association, and National Indian Health Board (Founding partners of the First Kids 1st Initiative)

APRIL 21, 2017

Introduction The safety and well-being of a community’s children is one of the highest responsibilities for any government. Tribal governments, like states, have a special obligation to ensure that their community’s children are safe from harm like child abuse and neglect. The tools for helping meet this responsibility include establishment of clear policies, adequately resourced child protection infrastructure and services, well-trained workforce, well-coordinated and effective partnerships with federal and state partners, and easy and reliable access to national criminal databases and child abuse registries.  Read more…

NICWA Statement On President’s FY 2018 Budget

On May 23, 2017, the White House released its fiscal year 2018 budget for federal agencies. This was the more detailed version of the budget blueprint, or “skinny budget,” that was released in April of this year. As we reviewed the president’s budget, it was hard to understand how the list of budget cuts being proposed for tribal human service programs under the Bureau of Indian Affairs was honoring the federal trust relationship between tribal nations and the United States. Tribal nations relinquished millions of acres of land, and many of their rights to the resources contained within those lands, in exchange for the guarantee of protection of their continued existence and of the right of self-government within their own negotiated territories. This includes providing for Native people’s health and well-being. This solemn contract with tribal nations does not contain caveats for changes in the political winds or new administrations coming into office. It is the bedrock of the relationship between the United States and the sovereign tribal nations within our lands, recognized in our United States Constitution and countless federal laws and federal court decisions. Read more…

NICWA Senate DHHS Appropriations Testimony

United States Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Department of Health and Human Services Recommendations National Indian Child Welfare Association FY 2018 Testimony

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), located in Portland, Oregon, has over 35 years of experience advocating on behalf of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children in child welfare and children’s mental health systems. Thank you for the opportunity to provide FY 2018 budget recommendations for child welfare and children’s mental health programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Read more…

NICWA House Interior Appropriations Testimony

National Indian Child Welfare Association FY2018 Testimony United States House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies Department of the Interior; Bureau of Indian Affairs Recommendations

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is a national American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) nonprofit organization. NICWA has provided leadership in the development of public policy that supports tribal self-determination in child welfare and children’s mental health systems for over 30 years.  This testimony will provide funding recommendations for the following programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in the Department of the Interior. Read more…

First Kids 1st Policy Agenda

The Founding Partners of the First Kids 1st Initiative formally joined together to support the healthy development of Native youth by coordinating efforts to transform the systems that have the greatest impact on Native youth and families—systems of health, child welfare, education, and governance. The Native Children’s Policy Agenda (NCPA) is intended as a tool to assist Tribal leaders and other policymakers in their work to create and implement a vision for vibrant, healthy communities. Read more…