Indian Affairs | Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

The purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is " protect the best interest of Indian Children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children and placement of such children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture... "(25 U.S. C. 1902). ICWA provides guidance to States regarding the handling of child abuse and neglect and adoption cases involving Native children and sets minimum standards for the handling of these cases.

ICWA Guidelines were published in 1979 to provide guidance to State courts on ICWA requirements. The Bureau of Indian Affairs recently conducted Listening Sessions for feedback on whether these Guidelines needs to be revised.


Current Events & News

Power Point/PDF - Proposed Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings - March, 2015

Federal Register - Proposed Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings  - March, 2015

Dear Tribal Leader Letter - March 16, 2015 

Federal Register - Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings - February 25, 2015

Please see links below for some Upcoming Child Welfare related funding opportunities available to Tribes!

Tribal Court Improvement Program. HHS-2015-ACF-ACYF-CS-0973 Link

Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development Grants HHS-2014-ACF-ACYF-CS-0800 Link

Building the Evidence for Family Group Decision-Making in Child Welfare HHS-2015-ACF-ACYF-CF-1008 Link

 2014 ICWA Listening Sessions

Recent developments have heightened the profile and confirmed the importance of the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). In response to the recent critical issues regarding ICWA, Indian Affairs has conducted a series of Listening Sessions to gather input from interested stakeholders in regard to their experiences with implementation of the law.

Listening Sessions were held on March 11, 2014 at the winter session of the National Conference of American Indians in Washington, D.C., April 15, 2014 at the National Indian Child Welfare Association Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and on April 24, 2014 by  conference call. 

Comments from the Listening Sessions are currently under review.

Direct Questions to:

Rodina Cave, Senior Policy Advisor to the ASIA Phone: 202-208-7163, or email at

Dear Tribal Leader letter - April 9, 2014

Dear Tribal Leader Letter - February 21, 2014

Power Point Presentation (PPT version) (PDF version)


Comments Washington, DC / NCAI Session (pending)

Comments ICWA Conference, Ft. Lauderdale, FL session (pending) 



IAM Part 70 Chapter 6 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978          

Guidelines for State Courts; Indian Child Custody Proceedings, Federal Register Vol. 44, No. 228, November 26, 1979

List of Indian Child Welfare Act Designates

2014 Indian Child Welfare Act, Designated Tribal Agents for Service of Notice (Federal Reigister Vol 79.No 233)

2014 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) - Designated Tribal Agents for Service of Notice (Federal Register Vol 79. No.12)
2012 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) - Designated Tribal Agents For Service of Notice (Federal Register Vol. 77, No. 148)

Child Protection Handbook: Protecting American Indian and Alaska Native Children, June 2006-

 Cover - (.pdf) - 1.3 MB
 Inside page - (.pdf) - 2 MB

Request for Additional Funds Form 

2013 Request for Additional Funds Form - March 15, 2013

2013 Request for Additional Funds Form - July 12, 2013



Frequently Asked Questions about ICWA

The National Indian Child Welfare Association is a national voice for American Indian children and families. They are a comprehensive source of information on American Indian child welfare and the only national American Indian organization focused specifically on the tribal capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect. 


Indian Child Welfare Facts & Fiction ( December 23, 2013)  

The Tribal Judicial Leadership Group, coordinated by the NCJFCJ and Casey Family Programs, and comprised of tribal and state court judges, identified the need to dispel common misconceptions and misunderstandings around the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Included in this document are common misunderstandings, facts, recommended practices, and statutory references surrounding application, notice, membership, intervention, transfer, active efforts, best interests, qualified expert witnesses, and placement. This structure is meant to allow users to jump to issues of particular concern in their jurisdictions, but can also be reviewed as a whole. The goal of this publication is to improve compliance with ICWA and assist judges in fulfilling its mandates.

Indian Child Welfare Act Facts and Fiction (coming soon)  

Measuring Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit - February 28, 2014 

The NCJFCJ is committed to helping state courts achieve full ICWA compliance. A new resource is now available to the courts (or Court Improvement Programs) to help achieve this goal. Measuring Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit, provides concrete tools and recommendations for the state courts to assess their current compliance with ICWA. The Toolkit identifies strengths and weaknesses of different data collection approaches, provides sample tools or questions for the sites, and identifies resources and examples of putting this into practice. If you have any questions or would like additional information about measuring ICWA compliance in your jurisdiction, you can e-mail the research team at

 Measuring Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit - February 28, 2014