In re Candace A., August 22, 2014 (Alaska)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: The Office of Children’s Services (OCS) filed a petition to adjudicate Indian child as a child in need of aid. The Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, Bethel, Charles W. Ray, Jr., J., adjudicated child as a child in need of aid and ordered her to be returned to her parents’ home. The OCS appealed.

Holding provided by Westlaw: The Supreme Court, Maassen, J., held that the Indian Child Welfare Act’s (ICWA) requirement that any decision to place an Indian child with someone other than the child’s parent or Indian custodian must be “supported by clear and convincing evidence, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child” did not require the expert to have expertise in Alaskan Native culture, and thus social workers could qualify as experts.
Reversed and remanded.

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.