(Portland, Ore., September 28, 2023)—Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced three new sets of regulations that will provide more opportunities for tribes and states to develop licensing standards for relative care providers. The Final Rule issued allows tribes and states that receive HHS child welfare funding to establish separate foster care licensing standards for relative and non-relative care providers when the previous federal regulations only allowed one standard for both care providers. The two additional sets of regulations are proposed changes as Notices of Public Rulemaking (NPRMs).
“We enthusiastically support this effort to remove barriers for relative care providers,” said NICWA’s Executive Director Sarah Kastelic. “Extended families are critical to helping Native children stay connected to their families, tribes, and cultures. This Final Rule on foster care licensing facilitates tribes’ and states’ ability to support Native relative care providers more fully and appropriately.”
The two additional regulation announcements asking for comments on proposed changes to regulations are described below.
The first NPRM proposes to require that tribal and state child welfare agencies find safe and appropriate placements and services for youth who identify as LGBTQI+ who are involved in child welfare systems. This NPRM seeks to address disparities that LGBTQI+ youth often experience in child welfare systems that lead to increased homelessness, mental illness, and discrimination. NICWA encourages tribal nations and advocates for Native children to submit comments.
The second NPRM proposes to allow tribes and states to use federal child welfare funds to support legal services for children in foster care, parents, and kinship caregivers. This expanded use of federal child welfare funds seeks to address inequities in the juvenile court system that can leave key parties without legal counsel as important, life-changing decisions are made about children in care or their parents. Tribal nations often do not have adequate funding to support their work to protect Native children in state child welfare proceedings, so this proposed change has the potential to increase legal services for Native children and greater accountability regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act.
NICWA highly encourages tribal nations and advocates for Native children to submit comments to both NPRMs in HHS’s child welfare package. In order to be considered, written comments must be received on or before November 27, 2023.
Urgent Action Required! Read NICWA’s submitted comments in support of separate licensing standards for relative care providers from earlier this year.
Read the Notice of Public Rulemaking on Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements for Titles IV-E and IV-B and find instructions for submitting written comments.
Urgent Action Required! Read the NICWA Comments on NPRM- Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements
Urgent Action Required! Read the Sample Letter Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement
Read the Notice of Public Rulemaking on Foster Care Legal Representation and find instructions for submitting written comments.
Urgent Action Required! Read the NICWA Comments on NPRM – Foster Care Legal Representation 11.17.23
Urgent Action Required! Read the Sample Letter – Foster Care Legal Representation
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About the National Indian Child Welfare Association
The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) 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 levels. For more information, visit www.nicwa.org/about/.