APSAC Advisor Issue on ICWA

The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children published an issue on ICWA.

Here.

Articles include:

Vandervort, The Indian Child Welfare Act: A Brief Overview to Contextualize Current Controversies

Fletcher & Fort: The Indian Child Welfare Act as the “Gold Standard”

Piper: The Indian Child Welfare Act: In the Best Interest of Children?

Piper: Response to Fletcher and Fort

Fletcher & Fort: Response to Piper

Active Efforts Case out of Montana [ICWA]

In re K.L.

Just yesterday, a colleague mentioned an article I wrote a few years ago in the Federal Lawyer about ICWA and military families, and I said, yes, we really need to update that. And today, I read this case:

Father was present at the March 23, 2017 adjudication hearing and stipulated to
adjudication of Child as a YINC and stipulated to the proposed treatment plan.1 At this time, Father was participating in the Veterans’ Treatment Court (VTC). As the Department did not want to duplicate services, the Department agreed that tasks Father successfully completed in VTC would satisfy tasks delineated in his treatment plan.

***

Father continued to participate in VTC. Throughout his participation and beyond
his successful graduation from VTC on August 7, 2018, CPS repeatedly reported Father was doing well and did not indicate dissatisfaction with Father’s compliance with his treatment plan or level of engagement with the Department.

***

In the permanency plan filed with the court on February 2, 2018, the Department
wrote “the permanency plan for the child is reunification with the birth father once he has completed Veterans Court.” Approximately one month later, the Department abruptly changed course. On March 22, 2018, CPS and his supervisor met with Father to discuss reunification and gave him a letter, advising Father that he needed to step-up his parenting by April 19 or the Department would file for termination. . . . This letter basically advised Father it was time to sink or swim as a parent. Here, over a year into the case, was the first time the Department expressed that Father was not meeting the Department’s expectations in terms of compliance with his treatment plan and engagement with the Department.

***
Less than two months later, on September 7, 2018, the Department filed to terminate Father’s parental rights for failure to complete his court-ordered treatment plan.

In the accompanying affidavit, CPS listed the following efforts he considered to be active efforts taken by the Department:

(a) Investigation into the current report;
(b) Review of prior reports/investigation;
(c) Interviews with collateral contacts;
(d) Communication with Benefis Labor and Delivery / NICU;
(e) Ongoing Collaboration with placement, [M.D.];
(f) Conducted diligent search to locate extended family;
(g) Ongoing communication with Allen Lanning, counsel for birth father;
(h) Communication with Probation and Parole.

Prior to filing the termination petition, there is nothing in the record evidencing the Department had even referred Father to any ancillary services required by the treatment plan—parenting classes, mental health assessment or anger management classes—or assisted father in addressing the transportation, daycare, or housing deficiencies asserted by the Department in its March letter.

In “good” news, the Court held the Department did not accomplish active efforts and reversed the termination order, as it should, because none of those things listed above are active efforts, and frankly are not even reasonable efforts.

Federal Court Sends LDS Back to Navajo Nation Court (Again)[tribal court exhaustion]

Decision here.

As discussed above, the court holds that Plaintiffs have not exhausted their tribal remedies. “When a court finds, as here, that tribal exhaustion is required, the court can stay or dismiss the action . . . .” Jaramillo v. Harrah’s Entm’t, Inc., No. 09CV2559 JM (POR), 2010 WL 653733, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 16, 2010). The undersigned has become familiar with much of the tribal proceedings that have already occurred. In the interest of judicial economy, the court stays rather than dismisses the case. Because the court stays the case, the court DENIES Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss, (ECF No. 17). The court also DENIES Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction, (ECF No. 7).

Previous coverage here.

 

ICWA Article in the Deseret News

Here

SALT LAKE CITY — Over the summer, Shari Pena’s 3-month-old foster son chuckled for the first time when his older sister sneezed, kicking off a new family tradition.

The Penas gathered to celebrate the giggle, a milestone in the child’s Navajo culture. They shared a chicken and rice dish in their West Valley home and took a pinch of salt from the baby’s palm, a gesture symbolizing his generosity.

As the federal law governing child welfare cases for Native American children has withstood recent legal challenges in Utah and in other states, the Penas are among those cheering the victories. The Indian Child Welfare Act sets special standards in the adoption and foster care proceedings and gives preference to Native American families — part of an effort by Congress to correct historical bias against them.

“It’s important that these kids stay in native homes,” Pena said. “We understand one another, our past and our ancestors.”

Pena, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, said certain aspects of Navajo culture mirror her own upbringing in Oklahoma, including a strong focus on family. For newer factors like the first laugh party, she seeks guidance from the child’s biological grandmother and his four foster siblings.

QEW Case out of the Colorado Court of Appeals [ICWA]

Here.

The question is whether the parent should have had attorney representation during the interview with the qualified expert witness. This is a really interesting question, especially given that in this case the mother was assigned her own Guardian ad Litem. The Court ultimately held that she did not have the right to representation during the interview and upheld the termination of parental rights.

Adoption Attorney Charged in Illegal Adoption Scheme Involving Marshall Island Babies

Here and here.

A public official in Arizona has been arrested in connection with charges that he ran a multimillion-dollar scheme in which he smuggled pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to profit from their newborn babies. Authorities say Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen’s fraudulent adoption enterprise left a trail of forged documents and violated U.S. and international laws.

Petersen operates an adoption law firm. For years, he has connected American families seeking to adopt with women from the Marshall Islands — but state and federal prosecutors say Petersen falsified documents and lied about the mothers’ residency so he could enrich himself.

Federal indictment here.

Utah Charging Documents

We posted previous coverage of the Marshallese adoption schemes from the Hololulu Civil Beat. Here is coverage of Peterson in 2017