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PCA America Applauds Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold ICWA

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Prevent Child Abuse America Applauds Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Indian Child Welfare Act

Prevent Child Abuse America applauds the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in a 7 –2 decision today. By keeping this law intact, Native American tribal leadership retains its sovereignty in child welfare cases that involve the placement and adoption of Native children.

At PCA America, we know that family involvement in the child welfare system is stressful and challenging for parents and children. ICWA ensures if out-of-home placement or adoption is required, the option of placement with extended family or families of Native background will be considered first before placement with non-Native families.

ICWA prioritizes placing American Indian children in Native – rather than non-Native – homes in cases of neglect, abuse, and adoption. In the 1860s, tens of thousands of children were forced to attend federal boarding schools — an intentional erasure of culture. Before ICWA passed in 1978, a full 80 percent of Native families living on reservations lost at least one child to foster care. More than 25 percent of all Native children were removed from their families with 85 percent of them receiving placements outside of their tribes or relatives. Currently, American Indian/Alaskan Native children are 207% more likely to enter foster care than their white peers.

PCA America supports ICWA, rejecting the notion that it is burdensome on states to allow Tribal Nation jurisdiction during child welfare cases. As Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland stated during a talk promoting the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, there “is a recurring theme of historical U.S. government policies to assimilate and intentionally separate Native children from their families.”

Today’s ruling in Haaland v. Brackeen represents a victory for Tribal Nations – communities that know what is important and in the best interest of their children and families. ICWA standards have served as a model for putting family integrity and community connection at the heart of removal and placement decisions for all children.

PCA America understands that culturally insensitive systems created multi-generational trauma and stress that still impact Native American families and communities today. Our work and signature evidence-based home visiting program, Healthy Families America, has over 600 sites –– with several affiliates on Tribal Nation lands –– promoting parenting skills, maternal health and nutrition, school readiness and personal connections that strengthen ALL families. We know that children are best served by preserving and strengthening their family and community relationships to the fullest degree that safety allows.

There is always more work to do to ensure families are given equitable opportunities and access to resources. But if our aspiration is to achieve the best outcomes possible for children, then we need to start by ensuring that all children can maintain continuity and connections to their family, Tribal Nation, culture and heritage. These are the building blocks for strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect.


Lukas’ Story

Because of ICWA, Lukas was ensured connection to family, community, and culture.


Four children standing closely next to each other, smiling and looking at the camera.

Stats & Factsheets

Indian Child Welfare Act

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