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Indian Child Welfare Act

When Native American children can’t live safely in their homes, Hennepin County works to place them in Native American homes, where they can maintain ties to extended family and tribes, and continue to grow, rooted in their own cultural beliefs, traditions and celebrations.

Currently, there are more Native children in the child protection system than our foster care system can support. Our community desperately needs more caring, capable Native American foster families.

The federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) guides child protection work in the Native American communities. The act is enforced by the state of Minnesota and local tribes, and applies to all of the Native children who currently need placement for foster care or permanent family care in Hennepin County.

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The state is required to make efforts to place Native children in Native homes. The Indian Child Welfare Act provides "placement preferences," in this order:

  1. With family members
  2. With a family who is part of the child's tribe
  3. In a nonrelative Native American family home

Hennepin County must forward all Native American children’s referrals to tribes for review, regardless of the race or national origin of the prospective parent or the child. The tribe then determines whether to support or reject the placement.

When placement with a Native American family is not possible, we look for a non-Native family that will be able to nurture the children’s cultural practices and beliefs.

Any Native American person, or family, who is interested in providing foster care is invited to contact us.

Call us even if you are concerned about issues in your past. We will work with you.

Get started

To learn more or to start the process, call our intake line at 612-348-5437.

Hennepin County social workers can answer your questions and give you details about the next foster care information meetings.

We can help if you already have a home study and want information about specific children, or are having a difficult time with this process.

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