What is ICWA, and why was it passed?
"ICWA" stands for the Indian Child Welfare Act, which is a federal law passed in 1978. ICWA was passed in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to "protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families" (25 U.S.C. § 1902). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
2015 ICWA GOALS
GOAL 1: The ICWA Worker will provide preventive services to families whose children are at risk of removal due to concerns of abuse and neglect.
Steps to Achieve Goal 1
- The ICWA worker will respond to State Reports of Harm and inform the tribal council and cooperate with the State Children's Services to ensure child remains in the tribal community where possible.
- The ICWA worker will provide services to assist families with maintaining a safe home, including case management, home visits, referrals for counseling, parenting and other services.
- The ICWA worker will develop a care and safety plan with high-risk families designed to keep children in their homes and reduce the risk of removal be the State. The worker may collaborate with the State Children's Services to create the care and safety plans if the same in under investigation of the State.
GOAL 2: The ICWA Worker will provide services to families whose children who have removed due to allegations of abuse and neglect and strive to reunify the family where possible and appropriate.
Steps to Achieve Goal 2
- The ICWA worker, when authorized will represent the child's tribe in the State Court proceedings CINA cases (Child In Need of Aid).
- The ICWA worker will provide services to support reunification which include case management, home visits, and referrals for counseling and parenting and life skills training.
- If the child is not in an ICWA compliant placement, the ICWA working will work toward identifying relative placements, tribal member or other Alaska Native or American Indian families and work with the State Office of Children's Services to ensure children are in ICWA compliant homes.
GOAL 3: The ICWA Worker will establish and provide Community Awareness workshops on prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Steps to Achieve Goal 3
- The ICWA worker will develop and facilitate quarterly community awareness workshops focused on preventing abuse/neglect.
- The ICWA worker with input of tribal elders, respected leaders will identify topics such as; positive parenting skills, grief and healing, sexual abuse prevention; domestic abuse indicator and verbal abuse prevention.
- The ICWA worker will coordinate with guest speakers who specialize in specific topics to speak at the community gatherings.
- The ICWA worker will coordinate with tribal elders and respected families who have demonstrated healthy, good parenting to present at the community workshops.
GOAL 4: The ICWA Program will strive to help prevent the breakup of tribal families with children by educating the families on building healthier family relationships as a preventive measure, within the family, for domestic violence, substance abuse and child maltreatment.
Steps to Achieve Goal 4
- The ICWA Advocate will provide positive community outreach activities on the importance of healthy family relationships towards the prevention of domestic violence and child maltreatment in cooperation with other partner agencies.
- The ICWA Advocate will support traditional and cultural activities for the community such as fishing, kayaking, storytelling, talking circles, wood carving, Alutiiq Week, Cultural Camps, and other activities that support positive cultural values.
- The ICWA Advocate will support the Alaska State Initiatives on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault such as the annual "Choose Respect" campaign and march and other activities aimed at the creation of safe home environment for our Native children.
ICWA Advocate: Jim Cedeno