GM 16-045

Training Sessions on the Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings Rule

Larry Roberts, Acting Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs announced in a July 13, 2016, letter to tribal leaders that the Bureau of Indian Affairs will be holding a series of training sessions regarding the recently announced Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations. We attach a copy of the letter and the training schedule.

On June 14, 2016, the Department of Interior published its Final Rule on Indian Child Welfare Act Proceedings in the FEDERAL REGISTER. The rule addresses state court implementation of ICWA in Indian child welfare proceedings and the required state maintenance of ICWA records. This is a major development toward achieving consistent, uniform, and timely compliance with ICWA. The Final Rule takes effect December 12, 2016, providing time for state courts and agencies to make any necessary changes for implementation. (See our General Memorandum 16-038 of June 20, 2016).

The training will focus on “providing information on the new rule’s requirements for State courts and agencies and the role of tribes in the procedural and substantive protections afforded it”. There are 12 scheduled sessions – four of them are webinars and eight are on-site.

The lengthy Final Rule provides clarity regarding numerous matters including: identification of whether a child is Indian in the earliest states of proceedings; uniform requirements for notice to parents and tribes in involuntary proceedings; standards regarding denial to transfer cases to tribal court; expert qualified witness criteria; placement preferences for foster and adoptive care; rights of adult adoptees to information from the state; emergency proceedings; and clarity regarding what some courts have deemed the “existing Indian Family exception”.

Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act training sessions.