Inquiry and Notice Case out of California (Published!)[ICWA]


At the detention hearing, Father said he had Native American Indian heritage, but he was unable to identify the correct tribe. Father believed his heritage was through his paternal grandmother. He provided CWS and the juvenile court with the names of his father and grandmother.


Father argues CWS failed to comply with ICWA requirements and the juvenile court did not make findings on whether ICWA applied. He contends the court was “not authorized to proceed with foster care placement until ICWA notice has been sent and received.” He is correct.


Here, CWS had reason to know the children might be Indian children. Accordingly, CWS was required to comply with ICWA notification requirements at least 10 days before the disposition hearing, because the hearing was an involuntary proceeding in which CWS “was seeking to have the temporary placement continue[d].” (Jennifer A., supra, 103 Cal.App.4th at pp. 700-701; 25 U.S.C. § 1912(a).)

This is very different from the reasoning applied by the Washington Court of Appeals here.

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.)

Published Decision out of the California Court of Appeals (ICWA Inquiry)


The father ultimately dropped his appeal of the ICWA inquiry, but the court’s comment is worth noting:

To be sure, the juvenile court’s analysis whether the evidence is sufficient to trigger ICWA’s notice requirements for Andrew and Kailey will be enhanced if additional information concerning Jonathan’s Indian ancestry is presented to the court. But the burden of developing that information is not properly placed on Jonathan alone. Section 224.3, subdivision (a), imposes on child protection agencies, as well as the juvenile court, the affirmative and continuing duty to inquire whether a dependent child is or may be an Indian child. (See In re Kadence P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1386; In re H.B. (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 115, 121; see also Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.481(a).) As soon as practicable, the social worker is required to interview the child’s parents, extended family members, the Indian custodian, if any, and any other person who can reasonably be expected to have information concerning the child’s membership status or eligibility. (§ 224.3, subd. (c); In re Shane G. (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1532, 1539; Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.481(a)(4).) From the record presented to us, it appears the Department and the juvenile court failed to satisfy that duty; neither the court nor the Department made any effort to develop additional information that might substantiate Jonathan’s belief he may have Indian ancestry by contacting his siblings or other extended family members. Both federal and state law require more than has been done to date. On remand, an adequate investigation by the Department with a full report to the court must be promptly completed.

Reported ICWA Notice Case out of California


Here, the juvenile court properly inquired about Shahida’s Indian ancestry at each hearing, and the Department conscientiously interviewed several family members to obtain additional information. During these family interviews, the maternal great uncle informed the Department he had Creek and Seminole ancestry. The maternal grandmother also informed the Department she believed, based at least in part on photographs she no longer possessed, she had Blackfeet ancestry. The court found the Blackfeet claim insufficiently supported and, according to the Department, the Creek and Seminole ancestry too remote.
Neither explanation proffered by the court and the Department constitutes an adequate ground for failure to give notice of Kadence’s dependency case to the identified tribes. As to the remoteness of Kadence’s possible connection to the Seminole and Creek tribes, although the suggestion of Creek and Seminole ancestry was based on information about her great-great-great grandparents, nothing was presented to the juvenile court or included in the record on appeal concerning the membership rules for those tribes. It could well be, for example, that membership under tribal rules is passed to successive generations, as a matter of right, through bilineal or double descent without regard to intermarriage or blood quantum and that the absence of formal enrollment does not affect tribal membership. Under those circumstances Kadence could be an Indian child within the meaning of ICWA.(See Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez (1978) 436 U.S. 49, 72, fn. 21 [98 S.Ct. 1670, 56 L.Ed.2d 106 [Indian tribe is final arbiter of its membership rights] . . .

California Court of Appeals Decides Gaming Compact Dispute

Here is the unpublished opinion and assorted materials in San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians v. State (Cal. App.):

Unpublished Opinion

San Pasqual Opposition to State Motion for Summary J

San Pasqual Second Amended Complaint

Unpublished California ICWA Notice Case and the Passive Voice

Opinion here. Court reversed termination and remanded for notice to Navajo Nation.

Classic example of the passive voice here:

The responsibility for compliance with ICWA falls squarely and affirmatively on the court and the Department. (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 224.3, subd. (a); In re Antoinette S. (2002) 104 Cal.App.4th 1401, 1409.)3 Both Robert and the paternal grandmother stated that there was native American heritage in the family. As early as the detention hearing, the juvenile court ordered the Department to make the necessary inquiries and send the required notices. Thereafter, as everyone acknowledges, the ball was dropped.

Reported California COA Opinion Reverses Termination of Parental Rights for Violation of ICWA

Ventura County Human Services Agency initially told the juvenile court that ICWA doesn’t apply to Alaska Natives (or, as stated in the opinion, “Eskimo families”).

Here is the opinion in In re H.G.:

In re HG — B255712

Two Additional Unpublished Notice Cases out of California

Apparently this is the week for notice cases with particular cause for posting.

Here. While the court in this case remands for notice violations in a guardianship case, it sadly does not also hold that Wikipedia is not a solid source for determining whether a tribe is federally recognized or not.

Here. And in this case, the appellate court wrote:

We begin with a concern not addressed by either party. California Rule of Court, rule 5.481(b) mandates that in asection 300 proceeding, the social services agency must send a “Notice of Child Custody Proceeding for Indian Child.” This form is designated ICWA–030. The ICWA–030 form sent by the Bureau here, however, differs from the ICWA–030 form available on the Judicial Council website.7 Significantly, that ICWA–030 form, which consists of 10 pages, requests identifying information on the biological mother (section 5c), the mother’s biological mother (section 5c), and the mother’s biological grandmother (section 5d).8 The ICWA–030 used by the Bureau, which was 12 pages, appears at first glance to be the same, but upon closer examination materially differs. It requests information on the biological mother (section 5c) and the mother’s biological mother (section 5c), but it then skips to the mother’s biological great grandmother and great, great grandmother (section 5d). Nowhere does it contain a section for information on the mother’s biological grandmother.9 By using what may be a faulty ICWA–030, the Bureau completely omitted all information on R.K.’s grandmother—Robin’s great grandmother.10
*6 Additionally, although the ICWA–030 requested information regarding R.K.’s mother, the Bureau omitted all information for her, stating “No information available” for every single category, including her name. This is, quite simply, inexplicable. At the very least, we can only assume that an inquiry of R.K. would have revealed her mother’s name and, quite likely, additional information called for by the notice. But it is also probable that the Bureau could have obtained the information from R.K.’s mother herself. At the outset of the dependency proceeding, R.K. informed the social worker that her mother was involved in her own dependency proceeding. Additionally, R.K.’s mother was present at the June 5, 2013, 12–month review hearing, as evidenced by the reporter’s transcript from the hearing. At one point, the court interrupted the proceeding to ask audience members to identify themselves, and one person responded, “I’m the mother of [R.K.]” Both of these circumstances suggest that R.K.’s mother was accessible had the Bureau made an effort to speak with her. Additionally, the Bureau omitted the current and former addresses and the place and date of birth for R.K.’s great, great grandmother.