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Oversight and Compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978: A Policy Analysis


The purpose of this study was to provide an analysis of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), a landmark piece of legislation recognizing the exclusive jurisdiction of Indian tribes over the welfare of their children. This study used primary and secondary data to examine the historical events preceding the Act, the legislative history and implementation of the Act. The major problems with ICWA are twofold; there is no federal administrative body authorized to oversee ICWA implementation and compliance and there is no comprehensive and uniform collection of Indian child welfare data to measure the impact of ICWA. David Gil's social policy framework was used to analyze ICWA. The study found that although ICWA has been implemented for over 30 years, the lack of administrative oversight and compliance has impeded ICWA's objectives to reduce the overrepresentation of Indian children in child welfare systems and to place Indian children in Indian homes.

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