Part One of Three Part NPR Investigation in ICWA Compliance

Utterly devastating.

Here. An excerpt:

Key Findings Of This Investigation

* Each year, South Dakota removes an average of 700 Native American children from their homes. Indian children are less than 15 percent of state’s the child population, but make up more than half the children in foster care.

* Despite the Indian Child Welfare Act, which says Native American children must be placed with their family members, relatives, their tribes or other Native Americans, native children are more than twice as likely to be sent to foster care as children of other races, even in similar circumstances.

* Nearly 90 percent of Native American children sent to foster care in South Dakota are placed in non-native homes or group care.

* Less than 12 percent of Native American children in South Dakota foster care had been physically or sexually abused in their homes, below the national average. The state says parents have “neglected” their children, a subjective term. But tribe leaders tell NPR what social workers call neglect is often poverty; and sometimes native tradition.

* A close review of South Dakota’s budget shows that they receive almost $100 million a year to subsidize its foster care program.

Derrin Yellow Robe, 3, stands in his great-grandparents' back yard on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota. Along with his twin sister and two older sisters, he was taken off the reservation by South Dakota's Department of Social Services in July of 2009 and spent a year and a half in foster care before being returned to his family.

John Poole/NPR Continue reading