The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian/Alaskan Native children with American Indian/Alaskan Native families. Congress passed ICWA in 1978 in response to the alarming number of American Indian/Alaskan Native children being removed from their homes in communities by both public and private agencies at a much higher rate than non-native children. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to "protect the best interests of American Indian/Alaskan Native children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families" (25 U.S.C 192). ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an American Indian/Alaskan Native child who is a member of, or is eligible for membership in, a federally recognized tribe.
ICWA is an integral policy framework on which tribal child welfare programs rely. It provides structure and requirements for how public and private child welfare agencies and state courts view and conduct their work to serve tribal children and families. It also acknowledges and promotes the role that tribal governments play in supporting tribal families, both on and off tribal lands. However, as is the case with many laws, proper implementation of ICWA requires vigilance, resources, and advocacy. 
The following SOP provides guidance for staff regarding how to work with tribal agencies, to ensure the cultural well-being of the child is preserved while continuing monitor overall safety.