- CA social workers must identify whether
a child is of Indian ancestry in order to preserve the child's culture
and to ensure that the CA staff meet the requirements of the ICWA, state
laws, and the WAC.
- CA social workers must identify a child
as Indian early in the case activity. Such early identification is necessary
to ensure that the Indian child is not traumatized by culturally inappropriate
and/or illegal placements that must be interrupted at a later date to comply
with the Indian placement requirements of the ICWA and/or WAC.
- All valid information regarding a person’s
membership status in the Tribe originates from the Tribe. The Tribe is
the only authority that can verify a person’s membership or eligibility
for membership status.
- Tribal membership and tribal enrollment
are not the same thing. Tribal enrollment is a process. About half
of all Native Americans and Alaska Natives are formally enrolled in their
Tribe. To be enrolled in a Tribe, a person must be a tribal member; membership
in a Tribe is not dependent upon being enrolled. This is a very important
distinction that all workers need to understand, since the ICWA applies to
children who are members or eligible for membership in a Tribe, not just
those who are enrolled in a Tribe.
- Unless otherwise specifically indicated,
the requirements of this Manual apply to all children meeting the definitions
of Indian child found in Chapter 03.10(A) below.
otherwise specifically indicated, Chapter 11 of this Manual contains procedures
applicable to Canadian First Nations and Recognized Indian Children, as
defined in Chapter 3.10 (A)2 and 3. Regardless of enrollment or membership
status, if the child is Indian, the social worker must follow the requirements
of this chapter.
- The requirements of this manual apply to
different categories of Indian children. The individual child's category
determines the law and procedures that apply in a particular case. For
this reason, the social worker must understand the categories and take
the necessary steps to identify the child's Indian category at the very outset
of service involvement. The following definitions of categories of Indian
children apply in this manual.
- The following definitions apply in this
- “Indian child” -
An Indian child is an unmarried person under the age of 18 and who
- A member of a federally recognized
Indian Tribe, including an Eskimo, Aleut or other Alaska Native;
- A child eligible for membership in
a federally recognized Indian Tribe, including an Eskimo, Aleut
or other Alaska Native and is the biological child of a member of
a federally recognized Indian Tribe.
25 U. S. C. 1903(4)
- Washington State Indian Child -
An Indian child meeting the definition of “Indian Child” and
whose Tribe is a federally recognized Tribe located within the state
- “Canadian First Nations
Indian Child” – An unmarried person under the
age of 18 who is a member of a treaty Tribe, Metis community, or
a non-status community from Canada.
- “Recognized Indian Child” – An
unmarried person under age 18 who does not meet the definitions of
Indian child, Washington State Indian Child, or Canadian First Nations
Indian child. Regardless of enrollment or membership status, an recognized
Indian child is a child considered to be an Indian by a federally or
non-federally recognized Indian Tribe or off-reservation Indian/Alaska
Native Community organization.
- Federally Recognized Indian
“Federally Recognized Indian Tribe” means
any Indian Tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community
of Indians recognized as eligible for the services provided to Indians
by the Secretary of the Interior because of their status as Indians,
including any Alaska Native Village. 25 U. S. C. 1903(8)
- Verification of Indian Status
- The CA social worker must obtain verification
of a child's Indian status by an Indian Tribe or band, community,
or non-tribal Indian organization in the form of a written affidavit,
declaration, or other certified statement that states the basis by
which the Indian Tribe or band, community, or non-tribal Indian organization
has determined that the child is Indian.
- When the social worker has been unable
to verify a child's Indian status through active efforts to
obtain verification from an Indian Tribe, the social worker may accept
verification of the child’s Indian status from a non-tribal Indian
- See Chapter 12, below, for a list of federally
recognized Indian Tribes in the United States. The list is not totally
accurate because it may not contain newly recognized Tribes. The social
worker must contact the Tribe or the BIA directly for assistance in
determining the current status of any unlisted Indian Tribe.
- Even in the case of an Indian child who
is not an enrolled member of a federally recognized Tribe or a non-federally
recognized Tribe, the social worker must seek to include the child’s
Tribe throughout every step of the case process.
- Application of federal and state laws as
well as the WAC varies depending on the Indian child's definitional category.
- The Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA), as
amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provisions (IEAP) amendments, 42
USC 671a, does not apply to Indian children meeting the definition of Federally
Recognized Indian Child.
- CA has developed the Indian Child Welfare
Compliance Checklist, DSHS 09-777, to assist the CA social worker
in following the procedures in this Manual. The social worker must
use the checklist as the face sheet for the ICW Section of the case
record file, for easy reference.
- For Canadian First Nations Indian Children
and Recognized Indian Children, follow provisions of Chapter 11.
- The provisions of this section apply to
Indian children of all categories. See Chapter 03.10 of this manual for
definitions of the categories.
- Upon acceptance of a case for service, the
CA social worker must immediately seek to discover whether the involved
child is of Indian ancestry. The assigned social worker must do this
in every case at every case transfer. The social worker must
document in the ICW section of the child’s case file all efforts
to discover a child's ancestry. At a minimum the social worker, including
intake staff, must ask a referrer, the parent(s)/Indian custodian(s), the
child (if the child is of sufficient age), and relatives of the child:
the child is of Indian or native ancestry.
Native and Canadian First Nations often use terms other than "Indian" to
describe their ancestry. For this reason, the social worker needs to inquire
about "native" ancestry as well as "Indian" ancestry.
Nation," "from a band," and "aboriginal peoples" are
also common terms used to describe Canadian First Nations ancestry. Canadian
First Nations often use the terms "band" and "reserve" to
denote "Tribe" and "reservation."
the child is or has been the ward of any Tribal Court.
- CA social workers must continue to
inquire about the child’s Indian status throughout the life of the case
and document the results in the CAMIS SER. The worker needs to ask the
parents and the parents’ relatives, including grandparents, aunts
and uncles, and adult siblings. Following are examples of points at which
it would be appropriate to inquire:
- 30-day review;
- Filing of petition;
- On the record at the shelter care
- Case transfers;
- Administrative reviews;
- Child protective and multi-disciplinary
- Permanency planning staffings/adoption
- Termination hearings; and
- Other staffings, such as Sexually
Aggressive Youth (SAY), Family Resource Panel, supervisory review,
and relative home studies.
- The social worker must obtain from each
parent a completed Indian Identity Request, DSHS 09-761.
social worker files the original copy in the ICW section of the child's
10 working days following the parent's completion of the form, the
social worker provides a copy of the form to the regional or local
LICWAC liaison or ICW compliance program manager, as applicable.
- The department must consider the child to
be Indian if any one of the following circumstances exist:
party to the case, Indian Tribe, Indian organization, or public or
private agency informs the social worker that the child is an Indian
- The referrer, the child, the child's
parent(s)/Indian custodian(s), or relatives give reason to believe
that the child is Indian.
- The social worker discovers information
suggesting the child is Indian.
- The residence or domicile of the child
or the child's parent(s)/custodian(s) is known to be a predominantly
Indian community. See Chapter 14 for the separate definitions of “residence” and “domicile.” There
is an important legal and case planning distinction between the “residence” and “domicile” of
an Indian child. If the social worker is uncertain as to the “residence” and “domicile” of
an Indian child, the social worker must seek clarification from the social
worker’s supervisor and/or the attorney for the child’s Tribe and/or
the assigned Assistant Attorney General. The Tribe’s social services
program also may provide clarification of the child’s status.
- The child is or has been a ward of
any Tribal Court.
- Upon receipt of information that the child
is of Indian ancestry, the social worker immediately takes necessary steps
to identify the child's Tribe and contacts the Tribe for verification of
the child's Indian status and invites the Tribe to participate in the case.
See Chapter 03.25, below.
the social worker does not know the identity of the child's Tribe,
the social worker follows the procedures in Chapter 03.25(E), for contacting
- The social worker also immediately
takes steps to staff the case with LICWAC, if the child’s Tribe
is unavailable. See Chapter 10.02(C) regarding LICWAC.
- In order to comply with the spirit and intent
of ICWA, the social worker must be able to identify whether or not any child
and family to which the social worker provides services is affiliated with
a Tribe. Given that Alaska has the highest proportion of tribal members
relative to its total population and given that 40 percent of all federally
recognized Tribes are located in Alaska, to be professionally responsible,
the child protection and adoption agency workers must be especially vigilant
in this regard.
- A child’s affiliation with a Tribe
centers around the issue of membership. Factors include a child’s
physical characteristics, blood degree of native ancestry, or the child’s
family’s cultural practices, religious beliefs, lifestyle, socio- economic
status or place of residence. None of the factors, in and of itself,
determines a child’s membership or eligibility for membership in a
- Each of over 550 federally recognized
Tribes in the country has a set of criteria, usually within the tribal
constitution, which the Tribe uses to establish a person’s membership
in the Tribe, just as every country has criteria to establish a person
as a citizen of the nation.
- With such a large number of Tribes
in the country and over 225 Tribes in Alaska alone, the social worker
must establish a working protocol that will help the social worker to
screen each child’s family. The social worker uses the protocol
to determine if there is a reason to believe that the child might be
a member of or eligible for membership in a Tribe and to verify the information
if the social worker suspects the child may be a member or eligible for
membership in a Tribe.
- Questions workers may use to screen
families and to determine resources which may be available to verify
tribal affiliation follow.
- Does either of the child’s
parents or blood relatives claim any degree of Alaska Native or Native
American ancestry? If the answer is yes, it is possible that an ancestor
of the child was a member of a Tribe and there is reason to believe
that the child could be eligible for membership in a Tribe.
- Were or are either of
the child’s biological parents, grandparents, other blood relatives,
or ancestors a member of a Tribe? If the answer is yes, it is possible
that the child is a member or eligible for membership in the same
- Is the child, either
of the child’s parents, or any blood relative a shareholder
in an Alaskan Native Village Corporation or Regional Native Corporation
established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act? If the
answer is yes, the child may be a member or eligible for membership
in an Alaska Tribe located in that village or within the boundaries
of the Regional Native Corporation. Not being a shareholder cannot
be used to conclude that a person is not an Alaska Native, but if
the person is a shareholder, then the person is an Alaska Native.
- Is the child, either
parent, or any blood relative receiving or eligible to receive
any type of services from an agency funded by the BIA or the Indian
Health Service? If the answer is yes, the child may be a member or
eligible for membership in a Tribe which may be located within the
service area of the agency.
- Did the child, either
parent, or any of their ancestors live on or near an Indian Reservation, or
a Rancheria in California, in the state of Oklahoma, or in or near a community
where any of Alaska’s 225 federally recognized Tribes are located?
If the answer is yes, there is reason to believe that the child may
be a member of or eligible for membership in a Tribe which may be
located nearby the respective area.
- The answers to any of the above
questions can help the worker screen potential families and children
who may be affiliated with a Tribe. The only way to verify tribal membership
is to identify the Tribe involved and to contact a tribal representative
who is authorized to provide documentation regarding a child’s
membership. Some of the aforementioned questions may help the worker
narrow down the potential location of the Tribe(s) involved. Primary
partner agencies, which can serve as locator as well as verification
resources to the worker, include the following:
BIA in Washington, D.C. or any of its area Offices located throughout
the country. Offices of the BIA serve as an important resource that
can assist the worker in locating the appropriate Tribe(s) and, in
some cases, may be able to provide verification as to an individual’s
tribal membership. The area office of the BIA serving Alaska is located
one of 12 Regional Native Nonprofit organizations in Alaska. These
organizations provide BIA funded services to Tribes within specific
geographic boundaries of the state, can assist in locating the appropriate
Tribe(s), and may house tribal enrollment records and program case
files which could help to verify tribal membership for individuals
of some Tribes located in their service area. A 13 th regional corporation
serves Alaska Natives who reside outside Alaska or who resided outside
Alaska when the corporations were established.
offices located in villages and communities throughout the country.
Many Tribes have established locally based service centers on or
near their tribal communities. These offices, through the Tribal
Councils, provide verification of tribal membership and serve as
the most important resource to the worker regarding this issue.
- If the social worker knows the identity of the child's Tribe(s), the social worker contacts all Tribe(s) by telephone as quickly as possible, and in no event later than one working day following discovery of the Tribe's identity. The social worker follows the telephone call with a written request for verification of the child's Indian status. The social worker uses Inquiry to Indian Tribe, Band, or Nation, DSHS 09-539, and Family Ancestry Chart, DSHS 04-220(X) to contact all Tribe(s) identified. The social worker must send the inquiry letter, DSHS 09-539, to the tribal ICW director and to tribal enrollment officer. For Canadian First Nation and Recognized Indian Children, refer to chapter 11 of the ICW manual.
- Send the inquiry letter to the child's Tribe(s) by standard postal mail, fax or email. The fax line and email must be secure and able to receive confidential information. Document all inquiry letters and Tribe(s) response and place or upload copies in the case file. If there is no response from the Tribe(s) or Canadian First Nation(s) within ten days, the social worker must follow up with a telephone call and document in the file.
- In seeking to verify the child's Indian status, the social worker inquires as to whether the child or child's Indian parent(s) was previously adopted.
- If the child or child's Indian parent(s) was previously adopted, the social worker makes reasonable attempts to obtain available information regarding the identity of the child's/Indian parent's biological family. A child's adoption record may be opened to help obtain information regarding the child's ancestry.
- The social worker promptly provides such information to the child's Tribe or, if the identity of the child's Tribe is unknown, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. See 03.30(E) below.
- If the child is affiliated with more than one Tribe, the social worker contacts each Tribe by telephone and sends each Tribe a written request for verification of the child's Indian status.
- When the social worker contacts a Tribe for verification of Indian status as required above, the social worker also asks whether the Tribe considers the child to be Indian regardless of the child's membership status. The verification forms required above contain this additional request for information.
- Only when the identity of the child's Tribe is unknown or uncertain, the social worker contacts the Portland area office of the BIA by telephone. See Chapter 12 for BIA contact information. The social worker follows the telephone call with a written request for verification of the child's Indian status. The social worker uses Inquiry To Bureau of Indian Affairs, DSHS 09-536, and Family Ancestry Chart, DSHS 04-220(X).
- If the social worker has reason to believe the child is Canadian First Nations but does not know the identity of the child's Tribe/band, the social worker immediately contacts the ICW program manager at CA Headquarters by telephone to request assistance in identifying the child's Tribe/band. The social worker follows the telephone call with a written request for assistance.
- Until the social worker verifies that a child is or is not an Indian child, the social worker presumes the child to be an Indian child for planning and service delivery purposes.
- Unless the social worker learns that a child meets one of the definitions of Indian child, in section 03.10, the social worker asks the child's parent(s)/custodian(s) and the child (if of sufficient age) whether an off-reservation Indian/Alaska Native community organization considers the child to be Indian.
- The social worker attempts to contact any Tribe or organization identified in response to the above inquiry. When the social worker identifies an organization, the social worker asks the organization whether it considers the child or the child's parent(s) to be Indian. The social worker uses Inquiry To Indian Organization, DSHS 09-775.
- When the social worker identifies a Tribe, the social worker contacts the Tribe as required in section 03.25(A), above.
- The social worker attempts to obtain a written response to requests for verification of a child's Indian status. At a minimum, the social worker includes written documentation in the service file of the name, address, and telephone number of the person who provided information about the child's Indian status and a summary of the information provided.
- The social worker must request LICWAC assistance in obtaining verification of a child's Indian status. See Chapter 10 for LICWAC procedures.
- Only a Tribe makes determination of a child's
tribal membership status. A tribal determination of membership or eligibility
for membership is final. The social worker does not make the determination
of an Indian child's membership or eligibility status.
as otherwise provided in Chapter 11, the term "Indian child's Tribe" means
the federally recognized Tribe(s) in which an Indian child is a member
or eligible for membership.
an Indian child is a member or eligible for membership in more than
one Tribe, the social worker provides notification to each of the Tribes
and, with respect to each Tribe, follows all other applicable procedures
in this manual.
- If the social worker contacted the BIA because
the social worker did not know the identity of the child's Tribe, the BIA’s
determination regarding a child's tribal membership status is final unless
later contradicted by a Tribe identified as the Indian child's Tribe.
- See Chapter 11 for procedures regarding
determination of Canadian First Nations or Recognized Indian children who
are not federally recognized.
- CA staff must follow the provisions of this
manual until the social worker has verified with reasonable certainty that
a child does not meet the definition of Indian child, as found in Chapter
03.10(A). If the child does not meet any of the above definitions, CA staff
will consider the child non-Indian and the provisions of this manual do not
- Even if the Tribe and/or the LICWAC
verifies a child with Indian heritage to be a non-Indian for the purpose
of this manual, the social worker must develop a case plan for that child
in accordance with the requirements for culturally appropriate services
in the CA Case
Services Policy Manual, Chapter 1000, section 1610.
- The social worker documents in the
service record the actions taken to identify a child's Indian status
in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and the basis for
concluding that none of the above definitions apply.
cases where the social worker has requested verification of a child's Indian
status as required by this chapter and has not received a response to such
request(s), the social worker may consider a child non-Indian and need
not follow the provisions of this manual if all of the requirements
below are satisfied:
- The social worker has sent a written
request for verification of the child's Indian status to the Tribe
and/or the BIA as required in Chapter 03.25.
- If the Tribe or BIA has not provided
verification within 30 calendar days following the date the social
worker sent the written request for verification, the social worker has
sent a second written request and has contacted the Tribe and/or BIA
- The Tribe or the BIA has not provided
verification within 30 calendar days following the date that the social
worker sent the second written request and neither the Tribe nor the
BIA has requested additional time for verification.
- If the Tribe or the BIA requested
additional time for verification and the Tribe or the BIA has not provided
verification within 60 calendar days after the first written request
for verification was sent. The social worker must follow up with the
Tribal Council. See paragraph B(2), above.
- The social worker has provided all
available information regarding the child's family history to the Tribe
or the BIA and has taken reasonable steps to obtain and provide any additional
information requested by the Tribe or the BIA.
- The child is not an Canadian First
Nations or Recognized Indian child who is not federally recognized.
See Chapter 11 regarding Canadian and Unrolled Indian children not federally
- The social worker has documented in
the ICW section of the child’s service file all information necessary
to demonstrate compliance with the above requirements, including the
name, address, and telephone number of the person(s) contacted by telephone
within the Tribe and/or the BIA.
- The social worker must make copies of the
inquiry, the ancestry chart, and replies from the Tribes and provide them
to the LICWAC.
- LICWAC makes the determination of non-Indian
status and completes the form.
- The social worker must copy the Determination
of Non-Indian Status form and place it in the ICW section of the
- If the social worker obtained verification
from the Tribe or the LICWAC of a child as non-Indian in accordance with
the provisions of paragraph C, above, and the Tribe and/or BIA subsequently
verifies that the child is Indian as defined in Chapter 03.10, the social
worker follows the requirements of this manual in performing casework or
placement activities after the date the social worker verifies the child's
- A Tribe and/or the BIA may verify a child's
Indian status orally or in writing. If the verification is oral, the
social worker documents in the service record the date the Tribe or BIA
provided verification and the name, address, and phone number of the person
who provided the verification.
For information on contacting the Tribes, BIA, and Canadian Tribe/Bands,
see Chapter 12 of this manual.