10. Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committees

Approval: Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: October 27, 1976

Revised Date: September 12, 2016

Sunset Review: June 30, 2020


The Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committees (LICWAC) serve in an advisory capacity to Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) caseworkers and supervisors by recommending culturally appropriate case plans and services for Indian families. LICWACs offer assistance in the case management of these cases with respect to the needs and rights of Indian children and their families. LICWAC recommendations are included in the court report LICWAC members are considered volunteers, and are subject to the same confidentiality requirements as Children’s Administration (CA) staff.


This policy applies to the Division of Children and Family Services.


  • 25 U.S.C. 1901 - 1923 The Federal Indian Child Welfare Act
  • RCW 13.38 Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA)
  • RCW 26.44.030 Child Abuse Mandatory Reporting
  • RCW 74.04.060 Records, Confidentiality - Exceptions - Penalty
  • R.C.W. 4.92.070 Actions against state officers, employees, volunteers, or foster parents "defense by attorney general" legal expenses


  1. Establishing and Maintaining LICWAC
    1. The CA regional administrator (RA) or designee will:
      1. Ensure LICWACs are established in his or her region.  
      2. Determine that every LICWAC member meets the following requirements:
        1. The member has been designated to serve on a LICWAC by a tribal government or Urban Indian Organization; or
        2. The member is a responsible community member who:
          1. Has a genuine interest in the welfare of Indian children.
          2. Does not have Domestic Violence convictions or offenses against children.
          3. Is not a CA employee.
          4. Does not regularly represent individuals in actions against DSHS.
          5. Is not serving as a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), or Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
        3. All members are registered as a Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) volunteer.
      3. Ensure all prospective LICWAC members, including individuals nominated in writing by a tribe or RAIO, meet all volunteer requirements and pass a criminal background check.
      4. Inform the nominating tribe or RAIO if the nominee does not meet LICWAC membership or volunteer requirements.
      5. Terminate a LICWAC member’s appointment if a member:
        1. Resigns.
        2. Is no longer suitable to serve on the committee as determined with input from the LICWAC, tribes, and RAIOs.
        3. Violates any of the volunteer requirements.
      6. Designate a CA employee as the LICWAC liaison.
    2. The LICWAC liaison must:
      1. Ensure all LICWAC applicants complete:
        1. Volunteer Application Form DSHS 15-186 on the CA intranet.
        2. Volunteer Registration Form DSHS 15-054A located on the CA intranet.
        3. LICWAC Confidentiality Statement DCYF 09-126.
        4. Criminal Background Check DSHS 09-653.
      2. Conduct criminal background and CPS history checks on all LICWAC applicants in accordance with DSHS Administrative policy No. 18.63 Employee Background Check Requirements.
      3. Notify the RA, or designee if the background check reveals there is a negative action on a LICWAC applicant.
      4. Provide mandatory training and orientation to new and prospective LICWAC members to include:
        1. LICWAC functions and procedures.
        2. Confidentiality requirements under RCW 74.04.060.
        3. Federal and State Indian Child Welfare Acts and other Washington laws impacting Indian Child Welfare including RCW 26.44.030 Child Abuse Mandatory Reporting.
        4. Brief overview of relevant CA policies and procedures (e.g., Permanency planning).
        5. Volunteer liability issues, including coverage through the Department of Labor and Industries and Attorney General representation;
          1. In accordance with RCW 4.92.070, CA will seek legal representation from the Office of the Attorney General for LICWAC members in all tort actions in which LICWAC members become involved as a result of their LICWAC membership.
      5. Follow WAC 388-70-620 and ensure each LICWAC staffing performs one of the following functions:
        1. Acts as a multidisciplinary team for CA in the development of culturally specific case plans.
        2. Reviews potential placements of Indian children in non-Indian homes when the child’s tribe is unavailable or not participating. This responsibility would occur if:
          1. Contact with the tribe has been unsuccessful.
          2. The tribe has indicated they do not wish to actively participate in the case.
          3. The tribe has failed to respond within 10 working days from the date post-marked on a written request for involvement.
        3. Acts as the Child Protection Team (CPT) meeting when requested, and the case and LICWAC members meet CPT requirements. Follow Practices and Procedures CPT policy.
        4. Acts as a permanency planning group for Indian children when the Indian child’s tribe is not involved or the tribe requests LICWAC conduct the permanency planning. Follow CA Practices and Procedures Case Staffings policy or Shared Planning Staffing or Permanency Planning policies.
        5. Acts as an administrative case review when a court hearing cannot occur within 6 months of the child’s original placement date. Follow CA Practices and Procedures Administrative Case Review policy.
      6. In coordination with the LICWAC invite the following participants to a LICWAC staffing at least five calendar days before the staffing when possible and provide alternative methods for participation such as conference calls:
        1. Parents, guardians and Indian custodians.
        2. Children age 12 and older.
        3. Foster parents, relatives, or support persons upon agreement by the CA caseworker and LICWAC chairperson.
        4. Tribal representatives or their designees.
        5. Attorneys, upon agreement by the CA caseworker and LICWAC chairperson.
        6. Guardians Ad Litem/CASA.
      7. Provide staff support, coordinate functions and obtain policy clarification when requested.
      8. Identify ongoing training opportunities for LICWAC members.
      9. Identify and advocate for resources to meet the cultural and specific needs of Indian children and their families.
  2. Staffing a Case with LICWAC
    1. The LICWAC liaison will:
      1. Schedule and facilitate LICWAC meetings when requested by the caseworker.
      2. Ensure there are three members present to achieve a quorum. In the event an emergency for a LICWAC member on the day of staffing prevents a quorum LICWAC may still proceed.
      3. Ensure each LICWAC staffing begins with:
        1. An explanation of LICWAC and confidentiality requirements if there are new members or new CA staff observing.
        2. A reminder that members must declare relationships and any conflict of interest before cases are presented. If any conflicts of interest are identified the LICWAC member must leave the room for that case.
      4. Complete relevant sections and ensure members sign the Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474.
      5. Document all LICWAC recommendations in section 7 of the Shared Planning Meeting tab in FamLink.
      6. Follow impasse procedures if there is no agreement with recommendations.
    2. The CA caseworker will:
      1. Coordinate with the LICWAC liaison and schedule a LICWAC staffing when any of the following situations occur for a CFWS case:
        1. When the caseworker receives a request from the following individuals:
          1. Tribal designee.
          2. LICWAC committee.
          3. CA worker’s supervisor.
          4. LICWAC Liaison.
          5. Child’s parent, legal guardian, or Indian custodian.
        2. When the CFWS case involves:
          1. Children whose status with a federally recognized tribe is pending.
          2. Indian children whose tribe is unavailable.
          3. Children whose tribe is requesting LICWAC involvement.
          4. Children affiliated with a non-federally recognized tribe or Canadian First Nations. Conduct case staffings with Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committees (LICWAC) with a signed Consent DCYF 14-012 from at least one parent.
            1. If both parents are absent and have not participated in the case for 60 days from the Original Placement Date (OPD), and CA has made diligent efforts to locate parents who cannot be found, the case may be staffed at LICWAC without a signed consent.
            2. If either parent should subsequently become involved with the case, consent to continue staffing with LICWAC is required.
        3. Within timeframes determined by the following staffing type:
          1. Permanency Planning - Within 60 days of original placement date.
          2. CPT - When requested.
          3. Out-of-home placements of an Indian Child in a Non-Indian home staffing - When requested.
          4. Administrative Reviews – When requested.
      2. Not schedule a LICWAC staffing when the tribe has requested the case not be staffed at LICWAC.
      3. Make efforts (including telephone, fax, email and regular mail) to obtain tribal representation at all LICWAC staffings.
        Representation can occur in person, by telephone or through written recommendations. A tribe may be considered unavailable if:
        1. Contact with the tribe has been unsuccessful.
        2. The tribe has indicated they do not wish to actively participate in the case.
        3. The tribe has failed to respond within 10 working days from the date post-marked on a written request for involvement.
      4. Notify the LICWAC liaison when the tribe requests no further LICWAC involvement.
      5. Continue to contact the tribe monthly when a tribe does not respond, unless the tribe indicates they do not wish to participate, and document these efforts in FamLink.
      6. At the request of the LICWAC liaison, bring the following copies for each committee member, including but not limited to:
        1. A court report signed by the CA caseworker’s supervisor;
        2. The child’s Family Ancestry Chart DCYF 04-220;
        3. Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474, with LICWAC’s most recent recommendations (if applicable).
      7. Bring the current volume of the child’s case file, including but not limited to:
        1. All psychological reports.
        2. All medical reports.
        3. Counseling reports.
        4. Professional correspondence.
        5. Police reports.
        6. Pictures.
        7. Verification of Indian child status.
        8. Indian Identity Request DCYF 09-761.
        9. All court reports.
      8. Present the case to LICWAC and include the following information:
        1. Reasons why the child came into care.
        2. Services provided to the parent and his or her progress.
        3. Tribal involvement, case recommendation if applicable and if membership status is pending.
      9. Document the following in FamLink:
        1. All efforts to obtain representation, including emails and letters sent to the tribe.
        2. A tribe declining or cancelling LICWAC participation.
      10. Advise the LICWAC at the time of the case staffing if he or she does not agree with the LICWAC recommendations. If the CA caseworker cannot resolve the disagreement, the CA caseworker must notify his or her supervisor and area administrator (AA). 
      11. Contact the tribe when closing a case.
  3. Conducting a LICWAC/CA Impasse Procedure
    1. CA must initiate impasse procedures if the CA caseworker disagrees with the LICWAC recommendations. 
    2. CA will work with LICWAC to resolve issues at the lowest possible level including the use of mediation.
    3. If mediation is unsuccessful, CA and LICWAC will implement impasse procedures to resolve the conflict.
      1. The CA AA or RA will schedule an impasse staffing within five business days (or longer when agreed and there is no imminent risk of serious harm) of learning about the impasse from a LICWAC designee. He or she will review the LICWAC recommendations section in Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474 for points of disagreement.
      2. The CA AA or RA must make every effort to include the following parties at every impasse staffing level:
        1. LICWAC designee.
        2. CA caseworker.
        3. CA caseworker’s supervisor.
        4. RA or deputy RA.
        5. Assistant attorney general with expertise in ICW issue, if necessary.
    4. If the conflict or impasse is unresolved, the RA, or his or her designee will notify the CA Assistant Secretary and request an impasse staffing.
    5. The CA caseworker submits all case related documentation to the CA Assistant Secretary.
    6. If the conflict or impasse is unresolved, the Assistant secretary notifies the DSHS Secretary and requests an impasse staffing where the Secretary’s decision is final. The CA Assistant Secretary will forward all case related documentation to the DSHS Secretary.