The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The ICWA governs child custody proceedings and intends to protect the best interest of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian Tribes and families. In 2015, Nebraska revised its ICWA law to provide clarity to policies and procedures in the state of Nebraska and promote further cooperation with Nebraska Indian tribes.
A child is eligible for ICWA if they are:
ICWA is applicable in court hearings involving foster care placements, status offenses, guardianships, termination of parental rights, and adoption. ICWA does not apply in proceedings for divorce or separation or juvenile law violations.
There are four tribes with governmental headquarters in Nebraska: the Omaha Tribe, the Ponca Tribe, the Santee Sioux Nation, and the Winnebago Tribe. The Omaha Tribe, the Santee Sioux Nation, and the Winnebago Tribe have agreements with the State of Nebraska's Department of Children and Family Services to provide child welfare services to tribal members within the boundaries of their reservations. These cases are under the jurisdiction of Tribal Courts and fully managed by the Tribes' child welfare departments.