Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services
                  DCFS Memo Series 2006 -01
                   January 17, 2006

                  INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT
                  (ICWA) REQUIREMENTS

To: Area Administrators/Human Services Area Coordinators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities 
     Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Licensing Chiefs/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
From: Burnie Bridge

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), was enacted by Congress in 1978. It regulates the removal of Indian children from their homes or from Indian custodians for certain child welfare reasons other than delinquency and other than divorce, and provides protections not only for the Indian child and parent or custodian, but also for the tribe.

ICWA requires that the agency seeking the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child notify the parent or Indian custodian and the Indian child's tribe of the pending proceedings and of their right of intervention. Therefore, the placing agency also has a responsibility to determine whether any child it seeks to place is an Indian child or might be an Indian child as defined by ICWA.

Four templates have been developed for eWiSACWIS in order to facilitate accurate and timely identification of Indian children and proper notification regarding child custody proceedings subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act. These templates are:

  • Screening for Child's Status as Indian

  • Child's Biological Family History

  • Request for Confirmation of Child's Indian Status

  • Notice of Involuntary Child Custody Proceeding Involving an Indian Child (includes the Notification of Rights Under the Indian Child Welfare Act)

The first template, Screening for Child's Status as Indian, has been revised and is available in eWiSACWIS in its revised form in the December, 2005 release. The other three templates are available in eWiSACWIS.

The attached policy, Identification of Indian Children and Proper Notification in Cases Subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act, describes when the necessary information must be gathered and documented in the templates and when it must be shared with a tribe or tribes or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It also describes when, how, and to whom notification of court proceedings must occur. It includes a requirement that a brief screening for possible Indian heritage be conducted in each initial assessment of alleged maltreatment by a primary caregiver. It also describes requirements that are effective immediately, as well as requirements that are not effective until January of 2007.

Active implementation of this policy through the use of the templates will assist Indian children and their families and Indian tribes in assuring the future of the culture of the tribes and of the tribal communities themselves. It is for these reasons that the Indian Child Welfare Act was created and why the subscription to its requirements is so important. Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in this important aspect of child welfare.

Indian Child Welfare Consultant
Legislation & Policy Consultation Section
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: 608-261-5330

Identification of Indian Children and Proper Notification in Cases Subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act  (PDF, 59 kb)


cc: County CPS Supervisors
Tribal Child Welfare Contacts
James Weber, OSF/TAU


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.