Post from National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

On June 24, 2020, President Trump issued an executive order (EO) on strengthening the child welfare system. The EO recognizes that every child deserves a family, that prevention efforts to reduce out-of-home placement need to be strengthened, and that foster children, especially those who age out of the foster care system, face serious challenges to securing a permanent home. In response, the president is proposing several actions by his administration to address these challenges. Read the detailed descriptions in our Child and Family Policy Update.

The EO contains a number of potentially beneficial provisions for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and families, such as improving access to data collection, improving support for partnerships, access to resources and training, reducing barriers to guardianship placements, and tracking efforts to meet federal statutory requirements, such as notification of relatives in child welfare proceedings. In addition, the EO states that implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act should not be altered or replace tribal consultation processes. However, the emphasis on collecting data and using data to improve permanency for children raises the question of why this administration published a final rule in May 2020 that struck 85% of the existing data elements concerning AI/AN children, families, and caregivers from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS). There are also questions about how the current administration will involve tribes in the efforts to carry out the EO and assess the appropriateness of resources they promote for AI/AN populations.

Tribes are encouraged to talk with DHHS officials at the Children’s Bureau to better understand their plans for implementation of the EO and how tribes can be involved.

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