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ICWA Courts


About ICWA Courts

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Courts

Families, Relatives, Community

The five principles of ICWA Courts that frame the “gold standard of child welfare” are:

  1. Judicial leadership;
  2. ICWA data collection;
  3. ICWA training (spirit and letter of law);
  4. Tribal stakeholder collaboration; and
  5. Gold Standard lawyering and social work.

ICWA Court judges lead off-the-bench in coordination with the ICWA partners (attorneys, agency social workers, and Tribal ICWA representatives) to achieve the spirit of ICWA.

Data Collection informs practice and can measure the impact of ICWA Courts. For instance, identifying the tribal partners who are parties in any particular jurisdiction allows for deeper collaboration and partnership, ultimately better serving children and families.

Key success to an ICWA Court is authentic Tribal collaboration and partnership. These partnerships foster better outcomes for ICWA families, including decreased time Indian children are in-care.

ICWA Courts are home to “gold standard” attorneys, judges, social workers and tribal representatives. The community of ICWA participants have more focused education and skill-development of the relevant laws. Tribal partner engagement and focused education allows for a culture that is committed to the spirit of ICWA, and increased capacity for the legal side of ICWA practice.

Although ICWA courts are of course child welfare courts, the foremost distinction is that families can expect engagement that is delivered with cultural humility, is solution-oriented, and most-importantly with humanity.

ICWA Court Map

Below is a map of the current ICWA Courts. For more information about these courts or to be added to the map, please see the contact information below.



  • National Prevent Child Abuse month and ICWA - 04/25/2024 National Prevent Child Abuse month and ICWA Shana King, Parent Mentor, ICWA Law Center on Prevent Child Abuse Month Hello, My name is Holy Owl Woman but I go by Shana, my English given name. I am a citizen of the Fort Berthold, a mother of five beautiful human beings and a grandmother of three…
  • Gold Standard” Practice in ICWA Court – Safety Guide - 04/25/2024 Gold Standard” Practice in ICWA Court – Safety Guide (Duluth, Minnesota) – On May 9th 2023 approximately 70 judges, attorneys, GALs, and social workers from the St. Louis Co. ICWA Court and the Carleton Co. ICWA Court gathered together with the goal of creating a common language in assessing family safety. And learning that “safety…
  • 2nd Annual ICWA Conference for the Olympic Peninsula: Pulling Strongly Together - 02/14/2024 Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (Port Angeles, Washington) – On October 17, 2023 the Clallam County ICWA Court brought together ICWA practitioners to learn together and strategize on how to improve the outcomes of Indian families. “Pulling Stronger Together” was the theme of this event and the conference more than achieved it for the more than…
  • Judge Katherine Delgado shares ICWA gold standard practice in child welfare matters - 05/15/2023 Judge Katherine Delgado making a difference for Indigenous communities           Judge Katherine Delgado, retired Colorado District Court Judge, is working as a consultant with Casey Family Programs and NCJFCJ, delivering training and technical assistance to ICWA Courts regarding judicial leadership, effective organizational structure, data collection and improved implementation of best practices for American Indian/Alaska Native children…

The Supreme Court upholds Indian Child Welfare Act

NCJFCJ Resources

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Courts: A Tool for Improving Outcomes for American Indian Children and Families (2021)

The Indian Child Welfare Act and Active Efforts: Past and Present (2020)

Indian Child Welfare Act Judicial Benchbook (2017)

Revised Active Efforts Principles and Expectations Publication (2010)

More Resources

Contact Us

  • Sheldon Spotted Elk
    Senior Director, Judicial & National Engagement | Casey Family Program