Social Policy: Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

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Analysis of Social Policy: Indian child Welfare Act (ICWA)
According to the Children’s Bureau there were 415,129 children in foster care in 2014. American Indian children made up 2% of this number, or 9,517 children (AFCARS Report, 2015). The proportion of American Indian Children residing in foster care is alarming because it is more than twice as large as the proportion of American Indians residing in the general population. American Indians make up .9% of the population of the United States. Prior to the introduction of the Indian child Welfare Act (ICWA), many American Indian children were being removed from their homes and placed with families with virtually no Native American heritage (Limb & Brown, 2004). The implementation of ICWA in
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Throughout the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the United States had many programs and policies that focused on the assimilation of American Indian children into Christian culture. In 1819 the Civilization Fund was initiated with the purpose of financially assisting religious organizations whose goals included civilizing the American Indian. The Civilization Fund led to the establishment of numerous boarding schools. The boarding schools became mandatory and were meant to separate American Indian children from their tribes. Many American Indian children completely lost contact with their parents and extended family after being placed in one of the boarding schools. This practice had a devastating impact on the children, their families, and the tribes (Goldsmith, 2002). This practice of forcing American Indian children to attend boarding schools was prominent from 1880 to 1930. By 1930, about half of all American Indian children that attended school were attending a mandatory boarding school. These boarding schools were oftentimes hundreds of miles away from their homes and the children that attended were forbidden from speaking their native language or engaging in their own cultural practices (Evans-Campbell, Walters, Pearson & Campbell,…show more content…
In order to terminate the parental rights of an American Indian mother or father, the court must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the child would suffer severe emotional or physical damage if they were to remain with their parents. Additionally, the court must have the testimony of expert witnesses who are knowledgeable of the American Indian culture and child-rearing practices at all termination hearings before parental rights may be terminated. These policies provided by ICWA have helped to reduce the number of American Indian children removed from their families and increased the rate of reunification when a removal does occur (Barth, Webster & Lee,

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