Mother Jones: A Native woman fought for years to gain custody of her granddaughter. Now the case is before the Supreme Court

ICWA aimed to change the decision makers in child welfare cases, requiring the caseworkers and lawyers to have a background in Native history and culture. Except in emergency situations, a child can be removed from the home only with the support of a “qualified expert witness” familiar with the child’s tribe. Tribes can become legal parties in the case; research has shown that tribal presence lessens the amount of time kids spend in foster care. Instead of the “reasonable efforts” the state is required to make to reunite children with their families in most child welfare cases, ICWA-trained caseworkers must make “active efforts” to prevent the breakup of Native families.

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