Speaking to Tribal Judges on the Matter of Improving Children’s Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases in Our Country: A Proposal for a Uniform Children’s Code

Since the 1970 the responsibilities of the tribal children’s courts have increased dramatically. In child welfare case tribal courts no longer simply determine whether a child has been abused or neglected. They now also oversee the placement of the child in a shelter, foster care, or a permanent home, as well as determine the parent’s treatment or visitation rights The complexity of the cases causes unacceptable delays in placing Indian children in need of care and hinders the placement of Indian children within the tribal community.

Judge Pinkham introduces a proposed solution to the problems of current tribal child welfare cases: a uniform children’s code. The proposed code provides a strong framework for tribal nations to solve the problems of delay and non-tribal placement of Indian children. Five goals guided Judge Pinkham as he drafted the uniform children’s code: avoiding unnecessary separation of Indian children from their families reunifying separated families, laying out a procedure for cases in which reunification is not feasible, making timely decision and enhancing the oversight role of the tribal courts.