The Supreme Court recently issued a 7-2 decision on the Brackeen v. Haaland case, fully affirming the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and dismissing all arguments against it. We at FosterClub, alongside our membership and network of Lived Experience Leaders, join advocates and tribal nations in hailing this significant ruling.
The Court's decision sustains ICWA's protections for Native children, youth, families, and nations - a position strongly endorsed by our Lived Experience Leaders who have journeyed through the foster care system. This ruling also validates the sovereignty of tribal nations.
ICWA was enacted to rectify a history of harm inflicted upon Native American children and families due to the widespread practice of separating children from their families. This history is not remote; it's an experience known by the grandparents and great-grandparents of many young people we serve today. Several advocates for ICWA are adoptees, whose familial, cultural, and tribal ties were severed. While we celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision, we acknowledge the profound cost borne by young people disconnected from their family, culture, and tribal identities.
"The greatest benefit of ICWA is that I am still connected to all three of my brothers. With my foster dad, I was exposed to tribal teachings, pow wows and supported in reaching out to my tribe and family for connection and knowledge."
- Shanell Lavallie, FosterClub Lived Experience Leader and member of Fort Belknap
We have heard time and again from Native youth about the significant difference that ICWA's protections did or could have made in their lives during and after their time in foster care. Guided by this understanding, we supported several Native Lived Experience leaders in sharing their experiences with the Supreme Court in this case. We also supported a brief led by Casey Family Programs, endorsing ICWA as the gold standard of child welfare principles.
Our commitment to amplifying the voices of Native youth remains steadfast. FosterClub will continue to work to ensure that Native young people, their families, and tribal nations are at the heart of ICWA's ongoing implementation and that we reduce the overrepresentation of Native youth in foster care.
Finally, FosterClub recognizes the potential to broaden the application of ICWA's best practices. Our Lived Experience Leaders consistently advocate for keeping children with their families, connected to their communities and cultures - as long as it is safe for the child. This principle is paramount for all children and youth in foster care. We will continue to champion this message, ensuring decision-makers understand its importance.