California COA ICWA Notice Case

Here is the opinion in In re Michael V.

An excerpt:

Kristina C., the mother of five-year-old Alissa M. and two-year-old K.C., appeals the juvenile court‟s September 29, 2105 order terminating her parental rights and identifying adoption as the permanent plan for her two daughters. Kristina contends the court and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (Department) failed to comply with the inquiry and notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.). We agree the Department failed to adequately investigate Kristina‟s claim of Indian ancestry, remand the matter to allow the Department and the juvenile court to fully comply with ICWA and related California law and otherwise conditionally affirm the order.

California Court of Appeals, 2nd District (17 reported and unreported notice appeals so far in 2016), continues to state what the Department’s role is in ICWA notice and inquiry:

The Department’s brief in this court reflects its misunderstanding of its duty to meet ICWA’s requirements. The Department attempts to defend its investigation by asserting, “Mother’s paternal aunt, who was present at the detention hearing, also never spoke up to indicate mother’s paternal family believed mother might have Indian heritage.” It was not the paternal great-aunt’s obligation to speak up; it was the Department’s obligation to inquire, an affirmative and continuing duty imposed by both ICWA and California law. (See In re Isaiah W., supra, 1 Cal.5th at pp. 10–11.)