Association on American Indian Affairs

Indian Child Welfare Act

AAIA began its active involvement in Indian child welfare issues in 1967 and its research and advocacy directly led to the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 . ICWA has provided vital protections to Indian children, families and tribes.

AAIA has worked throughout the years ensure appropriate implementation of the ICWA through litigation, advocacy and training. Our activities have included participation in the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and Holyfield Supreme Court cases, working to develop tribal-state agreements and state legislation in a number of states, including Washington State, and contributing to an ICWA guidebook published by the Native American Rights Fund.

Adoptive Couple vs. Baby Girl Information


Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act

AAIA has also worked to secure legislation providing the resources that tribes need to effectively operate child welfare programs, working closely with tribes and other national organizations such as the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Most notably, legislation has been passed

  • Making tribal governments and foster care and adoptive placements made by tribal courts eligible for direct federal funding under the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance program, as part of a bill known as the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act
  • Amending the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act (Title IV-B) to increase funding for tribal programs and the number of tribes eligible for funding, and to make tribal courts eligible for court improvement money.

It is estimated that passage of the Title IV-E and Title IV-B amendments will result in additional funding for tribal child welfare programs of more than $300 million over the next ten years.

We are working to ensure the full implementation of the Fostering Connections Act by providing training to tribes seeking to operate the Title IV-E program, including preparation of a comprehensive analysis of all Title IV-E tribal-state agreements, together with an agreement template bassed on promising practices, a comprehensive paper of the legal requirements in Title IV-E and an information sheet on the Role of States under Title IV-E. We are also working closely with other organizations to develop recommendations for federal agencies on implementation of the law.