Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian Child Welfare Act Programs

The Indian Child Welfare Act Program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center is an umbrella for several programs that work to stabilize and advocate for Indian families.   These programs include the Tribal Liaison Program, ICWA Case Management Program, Bright Beginnings Program, Indian Family Stability Program, IWCA Court Monitor Program and the QUICWA Program.

The Indian Child Welfare Act Program began in 1978 and was designed to assist families involved in the child protection system or families at risk for involvement.  The program has evolved with the system of services for Indian families in the Twin Cities, and MAIC’s program specializes in working with families who are enrolled in or eligible for enrollment in tribes outside of Minnesota.

The Indian Child Welfare Program at the Minneapolis American Indian Center provides services that are culturally sensitive, essential and appropriate to meet the needs of Indian families experiencing difficulties within the Child Welfare System.

Contact the ICWA Program Director Laura Newton for more information or to determine if services are appropriate and eligibility criteria are met at (612) 879-1714.

Download: Hennepin County ICWA Newsletter 2018Q1

Tribal Liaison Program

The Tribal Liaison Program serves as a bridge between American Indian the tribes from out-of-state whose tribal members are involved in the child welfare system, the court system, and the families themselves. Under ICWA, the tribes with which the Indian child is affiliated have a role in the proceedings, including providing recommendations on placements, providing assistance in finding relatives and others who might serve as resources for placement and other needs, among other things.  Since it is difficult for tribes who are located outside of Minnesota to travel to the Twin Cities to appear at hearings for their families, the Minneapolis American Indian Center’s Program helps fill a critical gap.  With authorization from the tribe, MAIC’s tribal liaisons appear in court, help convey the tribe’s perspective and preferences to the court, and communicate what is going on in the court to the tribe and family.  MAIC has standing authorizations from over a dozen tribes which have significant populations of tribal members living in the Twin Cities, and regularly get case-specific authorizations from dozens of other tribes each year.  Without this assistance, the tribes would not be able to participate in these court proceedings, and help to ensure the best possible outcome for the children.


  • Attend court hearings and share information with the court from the tribe or family (with authorization from the tribe)
  • Assistance to families with finding resources and services to complete their case plan
  • Maintain communication with the tribal ICWA Program staff to keep them involved and up to date on the court schedule and actions


American Indian/Alaskan Native children (enrolled or eligible for enrollment) and their families from tribes that are outside of the State of Minnesota who are involved with child protection services in Hennepin County

Tribal Liaison Staff

Valerie Berrard

Kelly Morgan

Contact the ICWA Program Director for more information at (612) 879-1714.


ICWA Case Management

The ICWA Case Management Project promotes and supports reunification among American Indian families entering the child protection system by providing intensive case management and coordination of resource services. The ICWA Case Manager works directly with American Indian families that are enrolled or eligible for enrollment in a tribe outside the state of MN.  Families that are from in state tribes are referred to a partner organization that provides case management.


  • Attend court hearings and provide assistance to the family to understand the court proceedings
  • Coordinate and collaborate with Hennepin County and Ramsey County and make recommendations for a realistic culturally specific case plan.
  • Provide supports for the the family to engage in their case plan, working for family stability or a permanent plan for reunification.


  • American Indian families that are enrolled or eligible for enrollment in a tribe outside of the state of Minnesota who are involved in child protection proceedings in Hennepin or Ramsey County, and in some cases to other counties in the metro area

ICWA Case Manager:

Charleen Day Castro

Contact the ICWA Program Director for more information at (612) 879-1714.


ICWA Court Monitor Program

The ICWA Court Monitor ensures that the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, 25 U.S.C. 1901 to 1963, and Minnesota Indian Family Preservation Act, Minn. Stat. 260.751 to 260.835 is complied with in an effort to protect the rights of Indian children and families. The Court Monitor attends hearings in Hennepin County and completes a QUICWA Compliance checklist for each hearing. A newsletter is published quarterly that outlines compliance issues.

The Court Monitor also provides consultation and training to Judges, Social Workers, Attorneys and other professionals regarding the Indian Child Welfare Act.

ICWA Court Monitor:

Chelsea Holub



The QUICWA Compliance Collaborative project is intended to provide assistance to tribes, urban Indian agencies and other entities to collect and compile data on compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act mandates and best practices in court hearings.  A checklist was been developed which trained court monitors (staff, volunteers or others) can use to record observations of what occurs, who is present, and findings that are made at a number of different types of child welfare court hearings.  A secure online system was developed to enter the checklist data into. A reporting system compiles the data, and provides reports on compliance for specific jurisdictions, or aggregates of jurisdictions.

QUICWA Compliance Collaborative Partners are still able to access the QUICWA Compliance system online.


Questions contact: ICWA Program Director (612) 879-1714


Bright Beginnings 

The Bright Beginnings Recovery Support Project is designed to assist American Indian women who are pregnant or recently delivered, who have a history of substance abuse, and previous experience with the child protection system, or are at risk for involvement with the child protection system, or to reunify if their children are in placement.  The goal of the program is to help these families become stabile, safe nurturing environments for their children and prevent further involvement with the child protection system.


  • Provide intensive case management and support to women who are pregnant or recently delivered (up to 18 months)
  • Help women connect with substance abuse assessment, treatment and aftercare support services to achieve and maintain their sobriety
  • Help women identify and heal from historical trauma through reconnecting with their culture through ceremonies, teachings, activities and the cultural support of elders
  • Help women and their children connect with other services and resources to keep their child/children safe and healthy and in a stable environment
  • Weekly support groups and cultural activities
  • Home visits
  • Transportation to clinic appointments
  • Advocacy


  • American Indian women, enrolled or eligible for enrollment
  • Pregnant or recently delivered (services last up to 18 months)
  • History of substance abuse
  • Live in the Twin Cities area
  • We encourage referrals from agencies!


Program Supervisor
Charleen Day Castro

Case Managers:
Amy St. Clair

Maria Smith


Indian Family Stability Program

The Indian Family Stability Program is aimed at families who are at risk for involvement with the child protection system, based upon a lack of access to resources, information or skills.  The IFS Program is a case management program where the worker helps the family connect with needed resources or services, such as finding housing if needed, and provides support and guidance in parenting, and advocacy in working with other providers.


  • Provide case management for up to six months to help families get stabilized
  • Referrals and assistance with finding housing and other resources as needed
  • Support, guidance and advocacy in dealing with issue and problems and working with other providers


  • American Indian male or female with children
  • At risk for involvement with child protection or have had previous contact (but not with currently open cases)
  • Live in Twin Cities area

Family Stability Case Manager

Renay Tolbert

Questions or referrals contact: ICWA Program Director (612) 879-1714