Updated Standards Supporting Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act Released

For Private Organizations and Public Agencies

In response to new federal regulations and guidance for working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families in child welfare, COA has issued updates across our suite of child welfare service standards: Child Protective Services (CPS), Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (FKC), Guardianship Services for Minors (GSM), Adoption Services (AS), and public Child and Family Services (PA-CFS).

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was revised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2016 to address longstanding challenges with and inconsistencies in the application of the law across states. The new binding regulations went into effect in December 2016. COA reviewed our child welfare standards to ensure alignment with these new regulations and partnered with the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) to enhance guidance for serving American Indian and Alaska Native families. 

The more significant changes include:

  • Updated screening or assessment standards, depending on the service section, to ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native children are appropriately identified per ICWA requirements
  • Updated personnel standards to ensure awareness and adequate competency to comply with ICWA among program staff 
  • Updated placement standards to account for ICWA and/or tribal placement preferences 
  • Updated standards to ensure that prospective adoptive and resource parents understand ICWA and its implications for the placement and permanency of American Indian and Alaska Native children
  • Updated standards to collect and maintain records enabling adult adoptees to claim their tribal citizenship
  • Additional updates to interpretations and research notes to support collaboration and integration of the family’s tribe and its norms and values into service planning, permanency, and resource family recruitment

Please review the Standards Updates page for more information about the changes to COA’s standards, or visit the Bureau of Indian Affairs to learn more about the new ICWA regulations. 

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