Fort & Smith on ICWA During the Brackeen Years

Forthcoming in the Juvenile & Family Court Journal

From 2017 through 2022, while the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) was under direct constitutional attack from Texas, state courts around the country continued hearing appeals on ICWA with virtually no regard for the decision making happening in Haaland v. Brackeen in the federal courts. For practitioners following or working on both sets of cases, this duality felt surreal, as they practiced their daily work under an existential threat. The data in this article draws from the authors’ previous publications providing annual updates on ICWA appeals, and now includes cases through 2021. It provides a description of appellate data trends across this time period, as well as for each year, while also highlighting key appellate decisions from jurisdictions across the country. Perhaps what this article demonstrates more than any single thing is the amount that ICWA is a part of child welfare practitioners’ daily lives now, in a way that will be difficult to upend, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision.

This is particularly recommended for practitioners–we’ve taken the data from all our past articles to put them into one. One of our charts still needs a labels fix from our data expert, Alicia Summers, but otherwise the article has undergone peer review and will be published soon.

Supreme Court Grants Texas v. Haaland

Here is the order

The Court granted the petition with no limitations, so the issues are not limited the way the government and four tribes requested. Arguments will be held next term (terms start in October, so after October, 2022).

In Largest Settlement in its History, Canada Comes to Agreement in Principle in Child Welfare Lawsuit

NY Times Coverage here

The Canadian government announced Tuesday that it had reached what it called the largest settlement in Canada’s history, paying $31.5 billion to fix the nation’s discriminatory child welfare system and compensate the Indigenous people harmed by it.

Agreement in principle/press release here

For those who were following this case, it involves the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which is led by Cindy Blackstock. The settlement attempts to reform Child and Family Services and address Jordan’s Principle. This is a major settlement and significant milestone for Native children and families in Canada. 

Bay Mills to Host Third Annual VAWA and ICWA Training

Bay Mills Indian Community

3rd annual Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training

Aug. 4-6, in-person and online 

Imange: In 2019, attendees gathered for the training at the Bay Mills Resort & Casino. While 2020 brought us a year of online trainings, this year, the event will be hosted as a hybrid. Attendees can join in-person or online.

BRIMLEY, Mich. — Picking up where last year’s training left off, Bay Mills Indian Community sets out to host its third annual Noojimo’iwewin: A VAWA and ICWA Training, Aug. 4-6. The event is hosted both in-person at the Bay Mills Horizon Center and online via Zoom. Once again, this timely training focuses on issues of child welfare, domestic violence, and community healing. Registration is free and still open!

Those who will attend in-person must book their room by at the Bay Mills Resort & Casino by Tuesday, July 27 using the training room block information. If you have any questions, please contact Neoshia Roemer at neoshia@whitenergroup.biz. This training is made possible by the Office of Tribal Justice’s TJS funding and organized by The Whitener Group.

This course is approved for 9.25 (including 1.25 Elimination of Bias) Minnesota Continuing Legal Education credits and this course is approved by the NASW-Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative for 9 credits.

Full press release here.

Marshall Project and NPR on How Alaska OCS Stole Millions from Alaska Native Foster Kids

If you, like me, enjoy starting your day with the clarifying anger of a thousand white hot fires, may I recommend this article on how various state agencies rerouted foster children’s SSI benefits to pay for their own foster care–especially impacting Alaska Native children. A few of those children are highlighted in this article:

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2021/04/22/foster-care-agencies-take-thousands-of-dollars-owed-to-kids-most-children-have-no-idea

The Marshall Project and NPR have found that in at least 36 states and Washington, D.C., state foster care agencies comb through their case files to find kids entitled to these benefits, then apply to Social Security to become each child’s financial representative, a process permitted by federal regulations. Once approved, the agencies take the money, almost always without notifying the children, their loved ones or lawyers.

At least 10 state foster care agencies hire for-profit companies to obtain millions of dollars in Social Security benefits intended for the most vulnerable children in their care each year, according to a review of hundreds of pages of contract documents. A private firm that Alaska used while Hunter was in state care referred to acquiring benefits from people with disabilities as “a major line of business” in company records.

Some states also take veterans’ benefits from children with a parent who died in the military, though this has become less common as casualties have declined since the Iraq War.

Join us for the virtual ILPC/TICA Conference

Anishinaabewaki, East Lansing, MI—When COVID-19 created an atmosphere of uncertainty for conference and training programs in 2020, the Tribal In-House Counsel Association and the Indigenous Law and Policy Center responded. The pressures of many new conditions placed on tribal in-house counsel attorneys prompted us to host the webinar series known as QuaranTICA. QuaranTICA covered issues such as tribal court closures and child welfare concerns while also bringing insight, updates, and as always, good humor to issues affecting tribal attorneys. Now, we are back for more!

The 2020 Indigenous Law Conference will be hosted as a webinar for the first time ever. The date has also changed to accommodate this new format.

The important message here is: it is TICA time!

With some familiar faces and other speakers who are new to our virtual stage, join us November 10, 12, and 13, 2020 to hear follow-up discussions about child welfare and social services, COVID-19 related litigation, quarantine issues and their enforcement, and remote oral arguments. Stay tuned for new panels on voting rights and the McGirt decision. Plus, it isn’t TICA without a reception! We are delighted to host live music from across Turtle Island on the evening of the opening day of the conference—November 10th.

You can find all conference details including registration, the agenda at a glance, and sponsorship tiers at www.indigenouslawconference.com. Just like every year, the Indigenous Law Conference is the time to renew your TICA membership, which is included in the registration fee. The conference is free for law students who register with their current law school email.

Check the website to register. Prior to the event, you will receive a password to the Indigenous Law Conference Participant Portal where the Zoom links will be available.

The conference consists of 6 panels, each 1.5 hours long, and is approved for 9 CLE credits through the Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education.

This year’s conference art is “I Will Show You The Stars” by Emily Courtney.
Visit www.indigenouslawconference.com to learn about the artist.

Vice: How Parents are Pressured to Give up their Children for Adoption

I did not talk to this reporter, but it feels like a word for word account of my classroom lecture on this issue:

Here

The explicit coercion of that era gave way to domestic adoption industry we have today—which is regulated by an inconsistent patchwork of state laws, unlike the federal regulations applied to international and foster care adoptions. And gradually, demand grew: By the mid-70s, increased access to birth control and legalized abortion and lessening stigma of single parenthood plummeted the supply of healthy white babies. In 2014, approximately 18,000 infants were placed for domestic adoption. In 2017, the CEO of the National Council for Adoption estimated that around one million families are trying to adopt at any given time in the U.S.

I have yet to find a replacement for the type of research the Donaldson Institute did–sadly it wound down operations a couple of years ago.

“Black Families Matter” -Marty Guggenheim in the Chronicle for Social Change on Ending ASFA

Here.

These statements, however, have thus far only been focused on the need to change the means by which we exercise the police power in this country. It is, perhaps, too easy for child welfare organizations to attack a problem they have not played a significant role in creating. But these same groups have not yet turned their eyes inward to ask whether and how the system they helped build is also deeply shaped by racism.

This is a moment that also must focus on how we exercise the parens patriae power in this country (the power of the state to protect the vulnerable). This starts with a major overhaul of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, often referred to by its initials ASFA, which was signed into law in 1997.

With certain exceptions that states too often ignore, ASFA requires that child welfare agencies seek to terminate the parental rights of children whenever they have been in foster for 15 of the most recent 22 months. Courts are instructed to terminate parental rights unless the parent can show that the conditions that led to the removal initially no longer exist. The law has been responsible for the massive destruction of black and brown families. More than 2 million children’s parents’ rights have been terminated by American courts since ASFA was enacted.

This is not about the intentions of those who developed the system we have. It is about listening to the people it harms. It is an unpleasant truth that many of the organizations whose collective voice is condemning racist police practices now have for decades celebrated the approach enshrined in law by ASFA, some by explicitly celebrating adoption and others using the euphemism “permanency.”

QuaranTICA COVID and Child Welfare Panel

Today:

Kate Fort, ILPC; Annette Nickel, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Jade White, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Tamera Begay, Puyallup Tribe of Indians.

QuaranTICAChildWelfareSocialServices

I’m awfully biased, but I thought it was a great panel, and a much needed good talk with some really amazing women today.