Honoring Indigenous Families: Evaluating the Impact of Nebraska's Indian Child Welfare Act

Principal Investigators
Nebraska Indian Child Welfare Coalition
Funded on

The removal and placement of Indian children away from their families and communities is a central component of historical trauma. Indian child welfare practice must contend with both the restoration of balance at the level of the individual the family and the community while negotiating with a system which has been an instrument of community disruption in the past. The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was designed to address the race equity issues in the child welfare system that historically and disproportionately harm Indigenous youth and families. 

With direct guidance from and collaboration with tribal citizens at every stage of the process, this team will engage in an in-depth exploration of whether:  

  1. changes made to Nebraska's ICWA in 2015 result in fewer Indigenous youth entering the foster care system; 

  1. whether the changes lead to provision of more culturally competent services and improved permanency outcomes for Indigenous youth and families in the foster care system; and 

  1. what is working well with the law's implementation and where improvements are needed. 

This research will provide critical insight into the effectiveness of ICWA policy changes that can be replicated in other states and at the federal level, as well as identify barriers to practice and lessons learned through Nebraska's five years of implementation.