Stephen Edward Dimas

The Project

Provide direct representation and aid to low-income and homeless Veterans in Oklahoma to improve their lives by providing legal services that ultimately lead to higher incomes, better health, safer and secure housing, and family stability. Conduct community education and outreach events throughout the state of Oklahoma to inform Veterans about the availability of Veterans’ benefits the Veterans may be unaware of, and assist client-eligible low-income and homeless Veterans in applying for those benefits.

The Project

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

Though 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, there remains an overwhelming percentage of Native children being placed outside of their families and tribal community 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. Tribes and Native families in rural areas may lack resources available to assist in the large number of ICWA cases to keep families intact. 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

During the two-year Fellowship period, Kace:

  • Granted case dismissal for ICWA violations and child was reunified with mother
  • Received a case dismissal on a Juvenile Deprived ICWA proceeding after the mother completed her ISP and reunified with her children
  • Granted a motion for Indian Custodian to remain in case and the client was reunited with her grandchildren after the successful completion of ISP
  • Case dismissal for ICWA violations on State guardianship proceeding (father allowed to keep custody of his daughter)
  • Transferred multiple state cases to tribal court so parents could receive tribal services and reunited a mother, who struggled with substance abuse, with her daughters, after successful completion of rehabilitation and ISP

Next Steps

Kace remains at her host organization Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, Inc. as a staff attorney, where she continues her work to ensure ICWA compliance and that Tribal parents and Indian custodians receive all rights under the law to protect families and cultural ties.


My Impact: A Conversation with 2018 Fellow Kace Rodwell

Enforcing the Indian Child Welfare Act