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Primary Submission Category: Heterogeneous Treatment Effects

Heterogeneous Treatment Effects and Survival Analysis with a State Indian Child Welfare Statute: Implications for Practice

Authors: Claudette Grinnell-Davis, Richard Smith,

Presenting Author: Claudette Grinnell-Davis*

There is no direct way to evaluate the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)’s effect on Indian children in foster care; national data (AFCARS) has no fields for Tribal citizenship (required for ICWA) or ICWA compliance. Nebraska strengthened its ICWA compliance through enhanced statutes specifying practice guidelines to facilitate safe, accelerated permanency. However, challenges in identifying eligibility and practice impact remain.

This research team used an event history AFCARS file of all race-identified Indian (AIAN) children in Nebraska whose cases opened and closed prior to statute (7/1/2015) or whose cases opened after statute and closed before 9/30/2018 (N=777). Assuming AIAN-only children are more likely to be Tribal citizens, we compared AIAN only and AIAN+ children in our ATET calculations and treatment effects survival analyses, using passage of the statute as treatment, in relationship to discharge reason (reunification, adoption, guardianship, or agency transfer) and duration of case.

After-statute cases of AIAN-only children discharged on average 132 days sooner than either before-statute or AIAN+ after-statute children. While there was no effect on reunification, treatment effects on AIAN-only adoptions demonstrated a drop (desired) while agency transfers increased (also desired). These results indicate that statute-specified practices may impact changes in case progress for the children who are intended to benefit.