Unpublished Nebraska Court of Appeals Case on Active Efforts (ICWA).

Here.

We rarely post unpublished ICWA cases because otherwise that’s all we would do. However, in this case involving an analysis of active efforts, the court found that:

Efforts made in this case included facilitating supervised visits, providing family support hours, drug testing, offering parenting classes to Nathaniel, placing Aviyanah in a NICWA-compliant foster home, and taking steps to enroll Aviyanah in the Rosebud Sioux tribe. Additionally, Nathaniel was provided transportation to visitations and during his job search.

Emphasis added.

This is not an active effort. This is the minimum requirement of 25 U.S.C. 1915 (placement preferences).

 

 

Nebraska Supreme Court ICWA Decision: Active Efforts

In re Micah H.

This case discusses how private parties (grandparents) can provide active efforts in a guardianship situation. This further develops this state case law in this area, most recently addressed in In re Micah H. (Neb. 2016), In re T.A.W. (Wash. 2016) and In re S.S. (Ariz. Ct. App. 2017):

In this case, Tyler was counseled by Linda concerning his drug and alcohol problems. The record shows that Linda suggested
multiple treatment programs in which Tyler could seek rehabilitation for his addiction. However, Linda and Daniel had no control with regard to forcing Tyler to seek treatment.

The record demonstrates that Linda and Daniel discussed proper parenting techniques and interactions with small children. Further, Linda and Daniel assisted with scheduling visitation
and the implementation of a parenting plan. Tyler demonstrated no need for housing, financial support, or transportation
to unite with Micah. Despite Tyler’s numerous criminal convictions involving drugs and alcohol, Tyler maintained that he
does not suffer from drug or alcohol addiction.

With the exception of completing parenting classes while in prison, Tyler has not sought to actively participate in drug and alcohol treatment or support programs. In fact, Tyler has attended only one Alcoholics Anonymous meeting while in prison, at the invitation of another, and suggested to the court
below that his presence at the meeting was for the purpose of supporting others in the program.

Based on the specific facts and circumstances of this case, we find that Linda and Daniel undertook active efforts to provide
remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to unite Tyler and Micah.

Indian Country Statements and Some Law Regarding the California ICWA Case

NICWA’s statement.

Choctaw Nation’s statement.

NCAI’s statement.

California Children’s Law Center statement.

NAJA’s statement.

We will continue to add statements from other groups as we receive them. And, because it’s what we do, we’ve created a page with all of the publicly available primary source documents in this case. You can find that here.

The foster parents’ attorney has issued a statement claiming she will use this case to appeal ICWA up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. We’ve heard this before, and there are very few legal routes left for them to do that, but we still expect they will try them all.

Meanwhile, this case is not just about Indian Country. The role of foster care in this country is clear–to provide a temporary, loving home for a child while her family receives services to so the child can go home safely. It is also provides time for the state to search for other -relative- homes for the child. This is a best practice regardless of whether the child is Native or not. It’s actually state law in California. Ann.Cal.Welf. & Inst.Code § 361.3. In fact, it’s the law in a lot of states. That’s because relative preference in placement is also required by the federal government for states to receive Title IV-E funding. 25 U.S.C. 671(a)(19). Preventing a child from living with her siblings and relatives –family she knows, and who have spent considerable time planning this transition– contrary to court order is not the role of foster parents.

Finally, the use of the media in this case to inflame opinion, spread false information about the situation, publicize a child’s name and face, and to try to dismantle ICWA itself [again] is deplorable. The type of comments that NICWA, the California Children’s Law Center, Choctaw Nation and other individuals are receiving, particularly on social media, should disturb us all. Those taking the brunt of this deserve our full support and thanks.

Additional Resources:

The Michigan Legislature

The Washington Legislature

The Nebraska Legislature

The Minnesota Legislature

The Wisconsin Legislature

The California Legislature

2013 Statement of National Council Juvenile and Family Court Judges

2013 Position Statement of Casey Family Programs

2013 Press Release of the following child welfare organizations in support of ICWA: Casey Family Programs, Children’s Defense Fund, Child Welfare League of America, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Donaldson Adoption Institute, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Voice for Adoption, Black Administrators in Child Welfare, Inc., Children and Family Justice Center, Family Defense Center, First Focus Campaign for Children, Foster Care Alumni of America, FosterClub, National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, National Association of Social Workers, National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, and National Crittenton Foundation.

 

DOJ Motion to Dismiss and Supporting Amicus Briefs in Goldwater (ICWA) Litigation

Motion to Dismiss here.

Footnote 8:

Plaintiffs do not seek the type of reliefincreased funding or systemic changes in the quality of child-welfare services provided by state agencies – that the Ninth Circuit found unworthy of Younger abstention in Jamieson, 643 F.2d at 1354; instead, they demand that this Court enjoin state courts and agencies from applying long-standing state and federal laws to their ongoing child-custody proceedings, which clearly warrants equitable restraint under Younger.

(emphasis added)

Also:

Membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe, or being born the child of a member of such a sovereign entity, is not a forced association. ICWA does not require association, but rather protects associations that already exist.

In addition, Casey Family Programs plus twelve other national child welfare organizations filed this amicus brief (gold standard brief).

Finally, it is a key best practice to require courts to follow pre-established, objective rules that operate above the charged emotions of individual cases and that presume that preservation of a child’s ties to her parents is in her best interests. See National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, supra, at 14. Application of the best-interests-of-the-child standard should be guided by substantive rules and presumptions because “judges too may find it difficult, in utilizing vague standards like ‘the best interests of the child,’ to avoid decisions resting on subjective values.” Smith v. Organization of Foster Families for Equal. & Reform, 431 U.S. 816, 835 n.36 (1977). Courts should not terminate a child’s relationship to a parent based on “imprecise substantive standards that leave determinations unusually open to the subjective values of the judge.” Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 762-763 (1982).

Finally, the national Native organizations (NCAI, NICWA, AAIA) also filed this amicus brief (historical brief).

The Indian Child Welfare Act must be viewed in light of the historical abuses that it was intended to stop. For most of American history prior to ICWA’s enactment, federal Indian policy favored the removal of Indian children from their homes as a means of eroding Indian culture and tribes. State and private child welfare agencies later took on the implementation of these policies, carrying them out with little concern for the families or communities they affected. By the 1970’s, the widespread and wholesale removal of Indian children from their parents and communities resulted in a crisis recognized as “the most tragic and destructive aspect of American Indian life today.” H.R. REP. No. 95- 1386, at 9 (1978), reprinted in 1978 U.S.C.C.A.N. 7530, 7532.

Government Affairs Attorney Position at NICWA

Here.

The government affairs staff attorney of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) is responsible for assisting American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, children, and families in their efforts to improve public policy at all levels to support effective services for and the general well-being of AI/AN children and families

And yes, this is the great Addie Smith’s position. She was appointed by the Governor of Oregon to administer the Child Dependency Task Force created by SB 222. Press release here.

Additional Findings from NNI/NICWA on Tribal Child Welfare Codes

Here.

Researchers reviewed 107 publicly available, tribal child welfare codes for U.S.-based tribes with populations ranging from 50 to 18,000 citizens. Researchers sought out the most up-to-date tribal child welfare codes available for each tribe, reporting that approximately 45% of the 107 codes were amended after 2000. The research team analyzed over 100 variables on the topics of culture, jurisdiction, tribal-state relationships, child abuse reporting, paternity, foster care, termination of parental rights, and adoption. A more detailed report on this study will be released later this fall. For more information about this project and its findings please contact the Native Nations Institute: Mary Beth Jäger (Citizen Potawatomi) jager@email.arizona.edu.

Cool poster here. First cool poster here.

DOJ Motion for Summary Judgment and National Orgs Amicus Brief Filed in Guidelines Litigation

Latest filings in Nat’l Council for Adoption v. Jewell:

DOJ Memorandum for Summary Judgment

A favorite footnote (5 is good too):

10 Finally, BAF does not elaborate as to why placement with an Indian child’s family or tribe could not also be “loving,” and its silence is telling. ICWA was designed as a remedy for precisely this type of bias: the stereotype held by some child-welfare advocates that Indian children will be better off placed with a non-Indian family. See Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 37 (reiterating that Congress feared that application of a “white, middleclass standard” will, “in many cases, foreclose[] placement with [an] Indian family”). BAF’s misguided view is, at best, an “abstract concern” that is insufficient to create standing. See Lane, 703 F.3d at 675 (citing Simon, 426 U.S. at 40).

National Organizations (NCAI, NICWA, AAIA) Amicus Brief in Support

Repost: National ICWA Attorney Survey

Posting this one more time because it worked smashingly for a tribe yesterday. Fill it out! Forward it on!


In an attempt to better protect ICWA, tribes, and AI/AN families,
NICWA and the ILPC have put together a short survey to collected ICWA attorney information nationwide. If you are in-house or outside counsel, if you are a parents’ attorney interested in taking ICWA cases, if you are legal aid agency who represents tribes, if you stumbled on this post and would be willing to represent a tribe from another state in an ICWA proceeding, please fill this out this poll.

The information will be sent to NICWA, and not sold or otherwise distributed beyond what is indicated. Please forward this questionnaire to the ICWA attorneys in your network and encourage them to submit their information as well.

Here is the link.