5. Child Protective Services for Indian Children

Approval: Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: September 1, 1991

Revised Date: September 12, 2016

Policy Review: June 30, 2020


Fulfill federal and state Indian Child Welfare laws which require active efforts to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the break-up of the Indian family. Active efforts include offering services that provide parents the help they need to keep their children safe.


RCW 13.38 Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act (WICWA)

RCW 74.13.031(3)(4) Duties of department – Child Welfare Services

25 U.S.C. § 1912 (d) Pending Court Proceedings: Remedial services and rehabilitative programs; preventive measures

25 CFR Part 23 Bureau of Indian Affairs ICWA Regulations


This policy applies to Children’s Administration (CA) staff.


The CA caseworker will:

  1. Contact the tribal social services program or the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) representative within 24 hours of being assigned the intake.
  2. Ensure the Washington state tribe received or receives a copy of the intake report DSHS 14-260 per the Washington State Tribes Intake Referral and After Hours Contact Information and document in the Intake Referral Tracking tab in FamLink:
    1. Select Washington tribe (defaults to federally recognized) from the Agency Type list 
    2. Select the appropriate Washington state tribe from the Agency Name list 
    3. Select the preferred method of delivery from the Referral Method list as identified by the tribe in the Washington State Tribes Intake Referral and After Hours Contact Information located in the action pane 
    4. CA Intake Report appears by default from the Document list 
    5. Select the Sent checkbox when the document has been sent and enter the correct Date and Time sent in the appropriate fields (once box is checked a date is required) 
    6. Type a narrative Reason for Referral in the Referral Information text box (not required)
    7. Click Save button 
    8. Click Close
  3. Follow the tribe’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), if applicable.
  4. For families residing on the reservation, ask the tribe’s designated social service or ICWA representative if the tribe will assume responsibility for the investigation or FAR intervention if the tribe and CA do not have an MOU.
  5. Follow state and federal law if the family resides on the reservation and CA is requested to lead the CPS investigation. 
    1. CA will provide notification in time for a tribal worker, as identified by the tribe, to have the opportunity to be present for investigations conducted on the reservation.
    2. However, in no case shall the absence or unavailability of a tribal caseworker excuse a CA caseworker from the responsibility to properly investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect according to CA policy and state law timelines.
  6. Contact tribal police when the child abuse and neglect occurred on tribal lands. When there is no tribal police, contact the area Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or local city or county law enforcement agency. 
  7. Conduct and complete a CPS investigation per CA Practices and Procedures Investigative Standards policy or CPS FAR intervention Family Assessment Response policy per state and federal law, for families who are affiliated with a Washington state federally recognized tribe, including families with a case in tribal court and that live off the reservation
    1. Collaboration and ongoing discussion with the tribe is expected in this process 
    2. Refer to the tribe’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for possible additional guidance for CPS investigations for families who live off the reservation
  8. Complete active efforts on every case. For example, discuss with the tribe resources needed to meet the needs of the child, what services are available, etc.
  9. Make active efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of an Indian child from his or her parents’ care.
    1. For a foster-care placement or termination of parental rights, the evidence must show a causal relationship between the particular conditions in the home and the likelihood that continued custody of the child will result in serious emotional or physical damage to the particular child who is the subject of the child-custody proceeding. 
    2. Without that causal relationship, evidence that shows only the existence of community or family poverty, isolation, single parenthood, custodian age, crowded or inadequate housing, substance abuse, or nonconforming social behavior does not by itself constitute clear and convincing evidence or evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that continued custody is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. 25 CFR 23.121(c), (d).
  10. Immediately inform the tribe of the child’s removal if a child has been placed in protective custody. 
  11. Notify the tribe of the intent to provide services or to file a dependency petition, and give the tribe an opportunity to complete any of the following: 
    1. File the petition in Tribal Court
    2. Take primary responsibility for providing services. 
    3. Provide a placement resource.
  12. Include tribal resources and supports when completing a Comprehensive Family Evaluation (CFE) and Case Plan to reduce or eliminate safety threats and increase the parent or caregiver’s protective capacities to assure the child’s safety and well-being. Follow CA Practices and Procedures Family Assessment policy and Case Plan policy.
  13. When the tribe or a tribally designated representative, requests case records of an Indian child send information per CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 4 Disclosure of Confidential Records/Information to Tribes
  14. If a dependency petition is filed and the tribe has intervened follow Discovery procedure per direction of local Assistant Attorney General (AAG). 
  15. Contact the child’s tribal social services program when requesting a Child Protective Team (CPT) Staffing in the order of following criteria: 
    1. The tribe’s CPT. 
    2. A Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC)/Child Protection Team (CPT) or other CPT designated by the tribe.
    3. A regular CPT with tribal or LICWAC participation, in person or by telephone.
  16. Staff all cases involving Indian children with the tribal designee from the child’s tribe.


  1. Document all ICW activities by creating a FamLink case note and selecting Tribal Contact under the activities tab, and file all ICWA/ICW documents in the ICW section of the most recent physical case file. 
  2. Review the case file and confirm the membership verification process has been completed (see CA ICW policies and procedures Chapter 3 Inquiry and verification).


  • Intake Report DSHS 14-260 located on the CA intranet - ASD forms