Judges must ask about youths' tribal status under new rule

AP News
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Posted: Jun 08, 2016 2:28 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new federal rule will require judges in every state to ask whether a child is a Native American during foster-care and adoption proceedings.

Under the rule announced Wednesday by the Interior Department, judges also must ask about a child's status as a tribal member during hearings to determine whether or not a mother or father's parental rights will be terminated.

The rule goes into effect in December as part of the Indian Child Welfare Act — a law passed by Congress intended to reunite Native American families after statistics showed they were broken up at disproportionately high rates.

Larry Roberts, who oversees the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, says the rule aims to establish more consistency within state courts in handling child welfare cases involving Native American youth.