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Research Report: Assessing ICWA Compliance in Seattle, WA

Resources / Report / Research Report: Assessing ICWA Compliance in Seattle, WA

In response to the high number of Native American children being removed from their homes, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978. In 25 U.S. Code § 1902, Congress declared that the best interests of Indian children would be protected by promoting the stability and security of Indian tribes and families through the establishment of minimum standards for removing Indian children from their families and placing them in foster or adoptive care. ICWA requires that state courts pay special attention to a number of factors related to the removal of Indian children, including but not limited to providing remedial services and rehabilitative programs, higher standards of review and notice to tribes. However, states often struggle with interpreting and applying the ICWA standards. The NCJFCJ has worked with several jurisdictions to assess their current compliance with ICWA and to identify ways to improve practice and measurement of ICWA compliance. Seattle, Washington is one such jurisdiction and was willing to share the results of their assessment. In this report, the NCJFCJ assesses current compliance, compares a case file review with a court observation methodology, and identifies recommendations for next steps.