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 State guidance regarding the handling of child abuse and neglect and adoption cases involving Native children and sets minimum standards for the handling of theses cases.

ICWA guidelines were published in 1979 to provide guidance to State courts on ICWA requirements.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs is conducting Listening Sessions for feedback on whether these Guidelines need to be revised.

Current Events & News

2014 ICWA Listening Sessions

Recent developments have heightended 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 will hold a series of Listening Sessions to gather input from interested stakeholders in regard to their experiences with implementation of the law.

Next Listening Sessions:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)
National Indian Child Welfare Association Conference
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Conference Call
1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT)
Dial: (800) 619-2487 Passcode: 4969328

Direct Questions to: Rodina Cave, Senior Policy Advisor to the ASIA
PH: 202-208-7163, or via email at


List of Indian Child Welfare Act Designates

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)

Indian Child Welfare Handbook

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

Indian Child Welfare Act 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.

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