WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Martin Heinrich praised the Senate passage of a bicameral resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and recognizing its importance to promoting the stability and security of Tribal communities and families.
ICWA sets best-practice standards for child welfare and adoption proceedings involving children who are members of a federally-recognized Tribe or are eligible for membership in a federally-recognized Tribe. It was designed to respond to the disproportionately high number of Native children who were unnecessarily removed from their families. When the law was first enacted in 1978, one-third of all Native children in the U.S. were placed in foster care or adoptive homes by child welfare systems unfamiliar with tribal child rearing practices, resulting in generations of displaced Native children. Over four decades, the law has become the “gold standard” for child welfare policy and keeping Native children connected to their communities and cultures.
“Native American children, like all children, thrive when they are able to grow up with the support of their families, communities, and cultures,” said Udall. “Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 to ensure that best practices in child custody for Native communities are in place, keeping families together and kids healthy and safe. Now, 40 years after its passage, I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this resolution and mark the important impact that this law has had on generations of Native kids.”
“The Indian Child Welfare Act served as both a recognition and change of course from a dark period in our history in which children from tribal communities were separated from their parents, their families, and their culture,” said Heinrich. “We should do everything we can to ensure Native children in the child welfare system are able to retain their culture and connection to their tribal community. I am proud to support this resolution to commemorate the anniversary of this important law, and will continue to hold the federal government and states accountable for working with tribes to fully uphold and implement it.”
The full text of the resolution can be found HERE.