ICWA Notification Requirements

Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Notification Requirements: "Although the notice forms included notification of the pendency of the proceedings and an advisement of the right to intervene, they provided scant information to assist the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the tribes in making a determination as to whether the minors were Indian children. In fact, other than the names, birth dates, and birthplaces of the minors and their parents, no information was provided to assist the tribes in making this determination." (In re D.T. (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 1449, 1454.) In In re D.T. (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 1449, the notices failed to include information that was already known to the social worker such as the tribe affiliation and names of the minors' grandparents. "The social worker's affirmative duty to inquire whether the minors might be Indian children mandated, at a minimum, that she make some inquiry regarding the additional information required to be included in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) notice." (Id. at p. 1455.) The tribes and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) were deprived of "any meaningful opportunity" to determine if the minors were Indian children and thus the error was prejudicial. (Ibid.) In In re Jennifer A. (2002) 103 Cal.App.4th 692, the court found a failure to properly determine the applicability of ICWA. The birthplaces of the mother and father were listed as unknown and the birthplace of the child was listed as California but the parents were participating in the proceedings and may have been available to provide the information. "It would appear the social services agency made little effort to provide the tribe with sufficient information for a thorough examination of tribal records." (Id. at p. 705.) While there are limits on the investigatory burden placed on the agency, the agency must make reasonable efforts to obtain known family history. (In re C.D. (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 214, 225 holding the agency has a duty to inquire about and obtain, if possible, all of the information about a child's family history including information about grandparents and great-grandparents; In re Louis S. (2004) 117 Cal.App.4th 622, 630 "The burden is on the Agency to obtain all possible information about the minor's potential Indian background and provide that information to the relevant tribe or, if the tribe is unknown, to the BIA.".)