Third Fletcher Commentary on ICWA in Cato Unbound

Written by: Matthew Fletcher

Primary Source : Turtle Talk, August 30, 2016

Here is “A History Lesson“:

An excerpt:

Reformers are still trying to save Indian children by taking them away from Indian families and tribes. Mr. Sandefur would rather force Indian children into state court systems by undoing ICWA, perhaps because they can be more easily plucked from state systems by the private adoption market. There have even been calls to greatly expand the number of Indian children in foster care. Literally no ethical person seeks to put more children in foster care. Studies show what should be inherently understood—plucking children out of a community they know and putting them in stranger foster care is actively harmful to kids (there’s a reason Casey Family Programs is putting a billion dollars into reducing the number of kids in foster care). Eighty percent of child welfare removals are due to neglect. Our children do deserve better: better services, better wrap around care, a better understanding of the mental health issues and chemical dependency that plagues their parents. They don’t deserve to be taken from everything familiar—their neighborhood, schools, and extended family—because of system failures in our society.

Imagine a child welfare proceeding where the judge meets with the parties for two hours before the hearing to engage in problem solving and to brainstorm creative ideas to best serve the child, followed by a formal hearing that may last two or more hours. Compare that to a state court hearing that lasts mere minutes, and where there are systematic financial pressures for “permanency,” in other words, to place children in foster care, terminate parental rights quickly, and adopt them out. It’s not even a comparison.

Prior entries here and here.

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Matthew Fletcher
Matthew L.M. Fletcher is Professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center. He is the Chief Justice of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court and also sits as an appellate judge for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, the Hoopa Valley Tribe, and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians. He is a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, located in Peshawbestown, Michigan. In 2010, Professor Fletcher was elected to the American Law Institute.