ICWA applies to three types of Indian child custody proceedings.
Types of Indian Child Custody Proceedings
Foster care placements.
ICWA applies to the temporary removal of an Indian child from his or her home, for placement in a foster home or institution, when the parent or Indian custodian (defined as an Indian person with custody of the child under tribal or state law or who has the child pursuant to a parental placement) cannot regain custody upon demand (25 U.S.C. 1903(1)). The latter provision exempts ICWA application from voluntary religious or school placements, as well as voluntary placements with private or public agencies where the parent or custodian can regain custody at any time. However, ICWA would apply to a guardianship in which a child is placed with a nonparent, as this fits the definition of a foster care placement.
Termination of certain parental rights.
ICWA applies to any proceeding that may result in the termination of the parental rights of the Indian child's parents or the custodial rights of the child's Indian custodian, including stepparent adoption proceedings and delinquency proceedings that lead to an attempt to terminate parental rights. (These generally are not governed by ICWA.)
Pre-adoption placements and adoption placements.
ICWA applies to proceedings that lead up to and culminate in the adoption of an Indian child. It imposes an obligation on both public and private adoption agencies to comply with its provisions.