National Foster Youth Institute Statement on Supreme Court Indian Child Welfare Act Ruling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Foster Youth Institute celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and maintain tribal sovereignty to ensure that tribal youth remain connected and placed within their own communities. NFYI, an organization that supports the welfare of current and former foster youth rejoices in this decision. The system that preserves and gives preference to Native American families in foster care and adoption proceedings of Native children is important for the presentation of cultural traditions, heritage, beliefs and practices of Native youth.

Any ruling against ICWA would have undermined tribes’ abilities to govern themselves. “ICWA not only protects tribal sovereignty, but it puts in place practices and policies that all children in foster care should experience,” said NFYI Executive Director Rebecca Louve Yao. “We hope to see more laws introduced that will expand its reach.”

As an organization that lifts up foster youth voices to transform the child welfare system, we know the court’s decision helps to uplift and amplify the voices of native and tribal youth who have continued to advocate for their own rights. Casey Family Programs research has found “significant, the rate of Native American/Alaska Native children being placed into care has been on the decline the past few years, from a peak of 15.9 children per 1000 in 2017, to 15.0 per 1000 in 2020. This rate is still much higher than the 10.4 per 1000 rate of Native children being placed in care in 2010.”

ICWA has protected the continued existence of Native tribes and Native children for 45 years and it continues to hold an important place in adoption and foster care proceedings.

“The National Foster Youth Institute focuses on mobilizing young people across the country with lived experience in the foster care system to speak their truths and advocate for their needs. NFYI is happy to continue to support a law that preserves family placements and will cultivate the preservation of language, connection to spiritually and more,” said NFYI Director of Government Relations Cortez L. Carey.