Photo of Kace Rodwell

Kace Rodwell

  • Hosted by Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Anonymous, DLA Piper LLP (US)
  • Service location Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Law school Oklahoma City University School of Law
  • Issue area Indigenous Peoples' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Kace reduces the number of unrepresented Native American parents in Indian Child Welfare Act cases in rural Oklahoma counties and support tribal courts efforts to place Native children with tribal families.

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted to protect the best interests of Native children, families, and tribes and to remedy the crisis affecting Native children, families, and tribes from prior removal practices of Native children from their homes. However, there remains an overwhelming percentage of Native children being placed outside of their families and tribal community ties. This is the case even when willing relatives are available for placement. Native families are four times more likely to have children removed and placed in foster care than non-Native families. Because Oklahoma is home to 38 federally recognized tribes, there is a profound need to provide active efforts to support tribal courts in placing Native children with tribal families.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past year, Kace has:

  • Granted case dismissal for ICWA violations and child was reunified with mother
  • Received a case dismissal on a Juvenile Deprived ICWA proceeding after mother completed her ISP and reunified with her children
  • Transferred state case to tribal court so mother could receive tribal services. Mother is currently in trial reunification with children
  • Granted a motion for Indian Custodian to remain in case
  • Presented at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association on representing tribal clients, learning about cultural awareness, and breaking down those language/cultural barriers for more effective representation

Next Steps

In the next year, Kace plans to:

  • Increase full representation to ten (10) ICWA cases in state courts.
  • Conduct six (6) community presentations on parental/Indian custodian rights under the ICWA and judicial/private bar presentations for knowledge on implementation of the ICWA
  • Complete twenty-five (25) brief services/advice for parents/Indian custodians on their ICWA issues

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