ICWASo much of the social work exam is taken up with practice questions--ethics, diagnosis, and the like-- it's easy to forget another giant part of the social work: policy. We'll take a look at some essentials over a series of posts. First up, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. (Note: "Indian" is used in the statute and in much discussion online. "Native American" is likely to be preferred by exam item writers.)

What's ICWA? The National Indian Child Welfare Association explains:

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families. Congress passed ICWA in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to "protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families" (25 U.S.C. § 1902). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.

Wikipedia adds:

ICWA gives tribal governments a strong voice concerning child custody proceedings that involve Indian children, by allocating tribes exclusive jurisdiction over the case when the child resides on, or is domiciled on, the reservation, or when the child is a ward of the tribe; and concurrent, but presumptive, jurisdiction over non-reservation Native Americans' foster care placement proceedings

For the exam, you can kind of stop there. For real life, keep going! In addition to the links above, read up about ICWA, its origins, and its consequences here:

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March 7, 2016
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