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.

This entry was posted in Author: Kate E. Fort, Child Welfare, ICWA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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