Synopsis provided by Westlaw: In child protection proceeding, the Yakima Superior Court, David A. Elofson, J., terminated father’s parental rights. Father appealed.
Holdings provided by Westlaw: The Court of Appeals, Lawrence-Berrey, J., held that:
(1) state satisfied notice requirements of Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) by notifying Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), but not “Blackfoot” tribe, of parental rights termination proceeding after father claimed Indian tribal ancestry on behalf of his child;
(2) three-month delay in Department of Social and Health Sciences’ referral of father to individual counseling, couple’s counseling, and a mental health assessment, following such recommendation from parent educator, did not make referrals untimely, in violation of statute governing steps to be taken prior to terminating parental rights;
(3) counseling and mental health assessment were not necessary services for correcting father’s identified parenting deficiency of substance abuse and, thus, Department did not fail to tailor services to father’s needs, prior to terminating his parental rights, by not offering those services concurrently with his substance abuse treatment;
(4) substantial evidence supported finding that offer of counseling services or a mental health assessment any earlier in dependency proceeding would have been futile because of father’s continued drug use, such that those services were not required prior to terminating father’s parental rights; and
(5) trial court’s error in failing to weigh statutory considerations applicable to incarcerated parents when deciding to terminate incarcerated father’s parental rights was harmless.
Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website.