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Measuring Compliance With the Indian Child Welfare Act: An Assessment Toolkit

NCJ Number
Date Published
28 pages

This toolkit helps those interested in assessing their State court's performance related to compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which was enacted in 1978 to improve State courts' handling of child abuse and neglect cases that involve Native-American youth, so as to ensure that Tribal connections are maintained.


Although the ICWA has been in effect more than 35 years, State courts still have difficulty in understanding and effectively applying ICWA requirements. The toolkit indicates that it is not meant to be an exhaustive resource, but rather a starting point for stimulating thinking about how to measure performance under the ICWA. The section on "Where to Start" suggests using research questions as a starting point in the study of ICWA implementation. This section identifies several common research questions and how to conceptualize data collection. The section on "Data Collection Approaches" compares and contrasts four methods of data collection, including the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. The section on "Things to Consider in Choosing the 'Right' Approach" identifies some important research considerations when selecting the right approach. "How to Use the Data" is a section that addresses strategies for reporting the data and how to use the data after it is collected. "Putting This All Together" is a section that provides examples of prior successful ICWA compliance research projects. Sample findings from two prior research reports are provided. 5 figures and 1 table

Date Published: January 1, 2014