By Debra Avenmarg, CILS Eureka office Staff Attorney
Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases are being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: courts are delaying time-sensitive hearings, tribal families visits are being disrupted or canceled altogether, and case plan services are being put on hold. This raises concerns of whether active efforts tribal families need in order to reunite with their children can still be provided during the pandemic. As an advocate for ICWA compliance, you may be asking yourself, should I hunker down for now and deal with all efforts and services issues once the pandemic is under control? NO! Do ANY services even exist in a time like this, let alone active efforts or reasonable services? YES! What can I do to make sure active efforts continue to be provided to tribal families?
Here are some ideas to get your cases back on track with active efforts!
- Ensure That Your Tribal Families Have the Technology to Access to Their Children, Services, and Support Networks.
- Ensure That Tribal Children and Parents Have Meaningful, Frequent Family Time.
- Assess Whether Case Plans Need to be Updated and Tailored for Your Tribal Family’s Current Situation.
- Evaluate if Alternative Placement is Available if Your Tribal Children Are in Congregate Care.
- Act Now! Do Not Wait Until the Next Review to Address Active Efforts.
- Links to Additional Resources for Providing Active Efforts and Reasonable Services