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ICWA Notice

An ICWA Notice is a notice issued when an involuntary child custody proceeding involves an Indian child. 

An “Indian child” is defined as any unmarried person under the age of 18 who is either:

  1.  A member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe; or, 
  2. The biological child of a member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe, and is eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian Tribe.

AN ICWA NOTICE IS

Required

  • For involuntary foster-care placements; and,
  • For termination-of-parental-rights proceedings.

NOT Required

  • For voluntary placements, such as when:
    • There is no threat of removal by a state agency; or
    • The child’s parent or Indian custodian can regain custody of the child upon demand;
  • If both the parent and child are not members of a federally recognized Indian Tribe;
  • If the child is not eligible for membership in any federally recognized Indian Tribe;
  • For Tribal court proceedings;
  • For proceedings regarding a criminal act committed by a minor; or
  • For awards of custody in divorce proceedings.
  • Notice is not required prior to emergency removal but a State must take immediate steps to comply with ICWA, if applicable.

AN ICWA NOTICE SHOULD INCLUDE

  1. The information below for the Indian child, birth parents, grandparents, and other direct lineal ancestors.
    • Birth name
    • Birthplace
    • Date of birth
    • Tribal enrollment information and number (if applicable)
  2. A copy of the relevant child-custody proceeding documents or petition, and the date, time, and location of any scheduled hearing.

AN ICWA NOTICE SHOULD BE SENT TO

  1. The child’s parents;
  2. The child’s Indian custodian, if applicable; and
  3. The ICWA designated agents of each Tribe(s) in which the child is or may be enrolled.  You can click this link for a listing of ICWA Designated Agents.
  4. The ICWA notice regulations at 25 C.F.R. 23.11 require copies to the appropriate Regional Director only. ICWA Notice copies do not need to be sent to BIA Central Office in Washington D.C. Only Final Adoption Decrees must be mailed to the BIA Central Office in Washington, DC.

ICWA notices must be sent by registered or certified mail with return receipt requested, with a copy to the appropriate BIA Regional Director. Please use the following filter to find the appropriate BIA Regional Director's contact information.

Eastern Regional Director Bureau of Indian Affairs

545 Marriott Drive, Suite 700 Nashville, TN 37214

Note

  • If you do NOT know the child's parents, Indian custodian, and/or Tribe, please contact the appropriate Regional Director for further assistance.
  • If you have more questions please email BIA.ICWA@bia.gov.

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indianaffairs.gov

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