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USIDSN staff submitted a comment to the Supplemental Notice of Public Rulemaking regarding proposed Adoption and Foster Care Automated Reporting System (AFCARS) data elements related to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA). The AFCARS is the standard system for child welfare reporting and data collection. Currently, there is no requirement to collect data on Native American and Alaska Native children, especially when a case should be considered under ICWA standards.
In the almost 40 years since the implementation of ICWA, tribes have experienced significant limitations in their ability to effectively track the progress of their tribal members’ children and families across multiple states. This data will enable tribes to evaluate trends and barriers for out of home placement and permanency for their members. Tribal governments have the right and obligation to protect Indian children, and access to this data is a matter of tribal sovereignty. Such data will allow tribes to create effective solutions in partnership with states that address how to effectively serve American Indian and Alaska Native children.