ACIN I-86-08: Tribally Approved Foster Homes (11/20/08)

Everything you always wanted to know about the use of tribally approved homes as placement options for Indian children under county jurisdiction. The letter reviews federally recognized tribes’ ability to establish licensing/approval standards and to approve homes for foster or pre-adoptive placement placements; consideration of tribally approved homes for the potential placements; that licensing/approval requirements cannot be used as rationale for not placing an Indian child in a tribally-approved home. Additionally, tribes are not required to have a Title IV-E agreement in order for counties to be authorized to use tribally approved homes; workers must still conduct the background clearance of all adults; to get written confirmation from the tribe regarding approval of a home; and to explore the potential tribal placement options once a child’s tribal affiliation is known. The letter reviews the the placement and adoption preferences and priorities. In cases of non-federally recognized tribes, the county may consider the tribe’s request for placement, but the home is still subject to county licensing and/or relative approval standards.

The letter also includes information about out-of-state and out-of-area tribes, standards and placement requirements; the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children rules vis-a-vis tribal placements; and court jurisdiction. Placements in tribally approved homes under the jurisdiction of a county dependency or juvenile court and supervised by the child welfare agency or probation department, continue to qualify for Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance benefits as long as the home is on or near an Indian reservation.

DSS also reminds counties that social workers have an affirmative duty to ask about any possible Indian heritage. Technical assistance resources to help counties work with tribal placements are on-line. [Download]