New Mexico State Indian Child Welfare Act bill to be introduced in the 2021 Legislative Session

(Image: courtesy Vanessa Bowen)

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Work group formed to draft and pass bill

News Release

Bold Futures New Mexico

As Native American American Heritage month is underway, advocates and child welfare experts are collaborating to introduce a bill to the 2021 New Mexico Legislative Session to codify the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) into state law. The New Mexico Tribal Indian Child Welfare Consortium (NMTIC), New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department (NM CYFD), the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW), and Bold Futures have formed a work group to draft and pass this critical legislation.

Federal Indian Child Welfare Act was passed in 1978 in response to the overwhelming national crisis affecting tribes, resulting in high numbers of Indian children being removed from their families and communities at alarming rates. Although Indian Child Welfare Act is far from perfect, it has provided some critical protections for American Indian and Alaskan Native children and families.

New Mexico has the opportunity to codify the protections of Indian Child Welfare Act into state law. The State Indian Child Welfare Act workgroup is collaborating and consulting with tribes and tribal Indian Child Welfare Act workers to make sure this legislation is centered on the most impacted families.

New Mexico ICWA logo
(Photo: Bold Futures New Mexico)

”The New Mexico Tribal Indian Child Welfare Consortium (NMTIC) was founded to coordinate efforts between tribal Indian Child Welfare Act workers to collaboratively support the needs of Indian children, families, and communities. New Mexico Tribal Indian Child Welfare Consortium members are dedicated and committed practitioners in the state and within our respective tribal nations and communities. Tribal Indian Child Welfare Act workers are experts on the barriers and obstacles that exist for Indian families. We are proud to lead efforts to establish a New Mexico state Indian Child Welfare Act that draws from our collective knowledge to keep and protect our children and families together,” said Jaqueline Yalch, President of New Mexico Tribal Indian Child Welfare Consortium.

“Indian children and families are disproportionately represented in child welfare systems in New Mexico and nationwide. The drafting and passage of a Indian Child Welfare Act legislation in New Mexico is critical to changing those disparities. It is incredibly important for New Mexico Children Youth and Families to partner with tribes, Indigenous stakeholders and other child welfare experts to make sure this work is accomplished in the right way - keeping the most impacted people at the center. With a state Indian Child Welfare Act in place, we can begin to better support our Indian children, families and communities in our state,” said Donalyn Sarracino, Director of Tribal Affairs New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department. 

“As an organization that is building creative and innovative ways to address and prevent cycles of violence in tribal communities, we know childhood trauma can lead to cycles of violence later in life,” says Angel Charley, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW). “We are honored to be part of establishing Indian Child Welfare Act into New Mexico state law ensuring that Indigenous children can remain connected to their cultures and communities.”

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(Image: courtesy Bold Futures)
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