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Bureau of Indian Affairs set to finalize Indian Child Welfare Act rule






Larry Roberts, the acting leader of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, speaks at the National Indian Child Welfare Association's Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in St. Paul, Minnesota, on April 4, 2016. Photo by NICWA / Twitter

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is finalizing an Indian Child Welfare Act rule that seeks to strengthen compliance with the landmark law.

The new rule has been highly controversial. Earlier this year, acting assistant secretary Larry Roberts said the BIA received more comments on it than any in the agency's history.

"We are moving full steam ahead on those regulations," Roberts told the National Congress of American Indians in February.

Roberts has made goon on his promise to complete work on the final rule. He already signed the document [PDF 17.8MB] and has sent it to the Federal Register for publication. Further details will come after a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon.

Congress passed ICWA in 1978 to prevent Indian children from being raised outside of their tribal communities. But compliance from states and adoption agencies has been spotty and the Obama administration has taken steps to meet the goals of the law.

Conservative groups and non-Indian attorneys, however, are seeking to undermine the law and sway public sentiment. The final rule, in whatever form it takes, is likely to spawn litigation.

Federal Register Notices for Indian Child Welfare Act:
Regulations for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings (March 30, 2015)
Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings (February 25, 2015)

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