(Portland, Ore., April 11, 2019)—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) today thanks the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, located near Highland, California, for their generous grant of $149,949 to help NICWA provide resources to families who encounter the child welfare system.

“NICWA strives to be responsive to the communities we serve,” said NICWA Board President Gil Vigil. “With funding from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, NICWA will continue serving as a resource to individual families.”

Each year, at least 5,000 Native families encounter state child welfare systems where they are at risk of having their children removed. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) establishes minimum criteria for states to follow in child welfare cases where an Indian child is involved.

In California, Native children are twice as likely as non-Native children to be placed in out-of-home care. They are also less likely to be reunified with their families and have longer stays in the state child welfare system than White children. While the State of California has significant policy infrastructure addressing ICWA, non-compliance continues to be a major barrier to Native children and families staying together and receiving the culturally competent services needed to strengthen their families.

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is proud to support the ICWA Crisis Response and Family Support program and its efforts to support families across Indian Country.

NICWA refers over 1,000 families annually to information, resources, and programs that can assist them and provide compassionate social work support. Families should visit www.nicwa.org for more information about resources.

Our Online Resources
If you need assistance with a child welfare matter, we urge families to first review our Frequently Asked Questions and “The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Family’s Guide.” Information included in these resources proves useful in determining whether ICWA applies to a specific family’s case. For example, ICWA does not apply to custody disputes between parents or to children who are not members—or eligible for membership—in a federally recognized tribe and the biological child of a tribal member.

Designated ICWA Agents
For families who are involved in a state child custody proceeding where ICWA applies, it is helpful to know that every federally recognized tribe and Alaska Native village has a designated tribal agent who serves as a point of contact on ICWA cases. Click here to find the tribe’s designated ICWA agent.

Finding Legal Help
Many families benefit from having a lawyer on their case. Under ICWA, parents and Indian custodians are entitled to have the court appoint them an attorney if they can’t afford one. Families can also look up legal aid offices that can provide free or low-cost legal help by going here and entering in their zip code. A list of legal aid offices that specialize in Indian law topics like ICWA can be found here.

Contact NICWA
If there are questions regarding an ICWA case or other Indian child welfare issue, contact the NICWA office at info@nicwa.org or at (503) 222-4044.

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About the National Indian Child Welfare Association

The National Indian Child Welfare Association works to support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of Native children along the broad continuum of their lives. NICWA promotes building tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through positive systems change at the state, federal, and tribal level. For more information, visit www.nicwa.org.