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     Module 2      Initial Inquiry


First Interaction With Family: Best Practice

The ICWA documentation trail should begin at the first interaction with the family of the child (in a delinquency case, the first interaction after the risk of foster care is identified). Whoever has that first interaction—such as a court clerk, court-connected investigator, social worker, or probation officer—should ask each parent, Indian custodian, guardian, or other person related to the child, and the child if he or she is old enough, whether he or she has any Indian or Native American heritage.

The person who has this first interaction with the family should place a note in the file saying whether the question has been asked and, if so, what the answers were. It is also a best practice to obtain a completed Form ICWA-020 as early as possible.

If the child has two parents and the first interaction is with only one of them, the first note in the file should reflect this. The party with inquiry duties (see table) must then try to contact the other parent to conduct initial inquiry with him or her.

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