Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County department of children and family services (DCFS) filed dependency petition. The Superior Court, Los Angeles County, No. CK58667, Amy M. Pellman, J., sustained jurisdictional allegations, terminated father’s reunification services and scheduled a hearing for termination of parental rights, granted de facto parent status to foster parents, found that foster parents had not demonstrated good cause to depart from Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) placement preferences, and ordered a gradual transition for the child to move from the foster parents’ home to pre-adoptive placement in child’s paternal step-grandfather’s niece’s home. Foster parents appealed.
Holding provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeal, Kriegler, J., held that:
(1) foster parents lacked standing to challenge constitutionality of ICWA placement preferences;
(2) child’s tribe’s consent to foster care placement with a family outside of foster care placement preferences identified in ICWA did not waive ICWA adoption placement preferences;
(3) clear and convincing standard of proof applies to determinations of good cause to depart from ICWA placement preferences;
(4) departure from ICWA placement preferences requires significant risk of serious harm to child, not certainty of serious harm;
(5) trial court was required to consider the bond between child and her foster family in determining whether to depart from ICWA placement preferences; and
(6) trial court was required to consider best interest of child in determining whether to depart from ICWA placement preferences.
Reversed and remanded with directions.
Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.