The legislature finds that the state is committed to protecting the essential tribal relations and best interests of Indian children by promoting practices designed to prevent out-of-home placement of Indian children that is inconsistent with the rights of the parents, the health, safety, or welfare of the children, or the interests of their tribe. Whenever out-of-home placement of an Indian child is necessary in a proceeding subject to the terms of the federal Indian child welfare act and in this chapter, the best interests of the Indian child may be served by placing the Indian child in accordance with the placement priorities expressed in this chapter. The legislature further finds that where placement away from the parent or Indian custodian is necessary for the child's safety, the state is committed to a placement that reflects and honors the unique values of the child's tribal culture and is best able to assist the Indian child in establishing, developing, and maintaining a political, cultural, social, and spiritual relationship with the child's tribe and tribal community.
It is the intent of the legislature that this chapter is a step in clarifying existing laws and codifying existing policies and practices. This chapter shall not be construed to reject or eliminate current policies and practices that are not included in its provisions.
The legislature further intends that nothing in this chapter is intended to interfere with policies and procedures that are derived from agreements entered into between the department and a tribe or tribes, as authorized by section 109 of the federal Indian child welfare act. The legislature finds that this chapter specifies the minimum requirements that must be applied in a child custody proceeding and does not prevent the department from providing a higher standard of protection to the right of any Indian child, parent, Indian custodian, or Indian child's tribe.
It is also the legislature's intent that the department's policy manual on Indian child welfare, the tribal-state agreement, and relevant local agreements between individual federally recognized tribes and the department should serve as persuasive guides in the interpretation and implementation of the federal Indian child welfare act, this chapter, and other relevant state laws.