Northern California County’s Child Welfare System Again Called out by Civil Grand Jury

A report released Monday by a northern California civil grand jury finds that the local child welfare system routinely misses court deadlines, creating “an unnecessary amount of stress” for children and families — particularly members of tribal communities who are overrepresented in the foster care system. Read the full article at The Imprint.

California Tribal Families Coalition Establishes “The California ICWA Institute” Think Tank

On the heels of oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), an organization comprised of a coalition of California tribes on Nov. 21 announced its creation of a think tank to advance and defend protections for Native children. The California ICWA Institute—a new project under The California Tribal … Read more

Proposed Law Would Make it Easier for Native Americans to Argue their Side in Child Custody Cases

California lawmakers are considering a proposal to make it easier for Native American tribes to make their arguments in child custody cases.Technically, the proposed legislation, AB 686, would let lawyers or other representatives of Native American tribes appear by phone or electronically in cases involving the possible removal of Native American children from their families … Read more

In re C.A., May 23, 2018 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Dependency proceeding was initiated regarding child born with amphetamine and methamphetamine in her system at birth. Following determination that Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) did not apply to child’s presumed father or biological father, the Superior Court, San Diego County, No. J519280, Kimberlee Lagotta, J., terminated mother’s parental rights to child. Mother and … Read more

Supreme Court Turns Away Another Conservative Attack on Indian Child Welfare Act

Without comment, the justices on Tuesday denied a petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County. The move, which came in an order list, ends a lawsuit which claimed ICWA was based on “race” and should be declared unconstitutional. Read the full article at the Indianz website.

Indian Child Welfare Act Under Attack Again as Conservative Group Submits Appeal to Supreme Court

The conservative Goldwater Institute is attacking the Indian Child Welfare Act again.The group has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an ICWA case from California. The petition in Renteria v. Superior Court of California, Tulare County claims the 1978 law is based on “race” and should be deemed unconstitutional. Read the full article at the website.

Opinion: An Indian Child Welfare Act Disappointment: Lack of Support from Tribe

This past Monday morning (March 13) in a courtroom in Alameda County I witnessed three non-Native attorneys and a non-Native judge make the decision to end reunification and move towards terminating Allen Kepa’s parental rights. It was a broken day for Native American children and Native American Parents. The Honorable Judge Ursula Jones spoke about … Read more

In re O.C., November 22, 2016, (California)

Read the full decision at the National Indian Law Library website. Synopsis from Westlaw: County children and family services agency filed petition against mother and father to terminate their parental rights to minor children, who potentially had Indian heritage. Following hearing, the Superior Court, Mendocino County, Nos. SCUK-JVSQ-14-1702501 and SCUK-JVSQ-14-1702601, David Riemenschneider, J., found both … Read more

Girls Caught in Custody Battle After Parents are Killed in Head-On Collision

The children have recovered from their injuries, but they now are innocent victims of a custody battle that pits their relatives in Visalia, Calif., against relatives in the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians in Placerville, Calif. The case in U.S. District Court in Sacramento is being closely watched because a federal judge has ruled … Read more

California Appeals Court Rules in Favor of ICWA Placement Preference in R.P. et al. v. J.E. et al.

On Friday, July 8, 2016, the Court of Appeal of the State of California – Second Appellate District upheld a lower court’s decision in R.P. et al. v. J.E. et al. that used the Indian Child Welfare Act as its basis to remove a four-year-old female child from her non-Native foster family. We have twice … Read more

Disenrollment from Pala Band Affects Children in ICWA Case

Two children who were disenrolled by the Pala Band of Mission Indians cannot be protected by the Indian Child Welfare Act, a California appeals court ruled on Tuesday.   The tribe formally objected in July 2009 when K.P. and Kristopher were put up for adoption. Their mother, Michelle T., is enrolled.   But sometime during … Read more

Pala Band of Mission Indians Will be First Tribe to Protect Native American Children in California’s Welfare System

The Pala Band of Mission Indians is the first tribe in California to receive clearance to conduct LiveScan background checks for tribal foster homes under new State law (Senate Bill 1460). The tribe is also the first to apply to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) program, Purpose Code X, to … Read more

In re P.R., May 12, 2015, (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County health and human services agency filed dependency petition. The Superior Court, Shasta County, No. 13JVSQ2966501, Molly A. Bigelow, J., sustained jurisdictional allegations, terminated reunification services, terminated parental rights, selected a permanent plan of adoption, and found that the child was not placed within Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) preferences because … Read more

In re L.S., J.R., et al. October 24, 2014 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: County Health and Human Services Agency filed dependency petition alleging children were at risk. Following contested dispositional hearing, parents filed motion to modify bypass order and sought reunification services.The Superior Court, El Dorado County, Nos. SDP20130007 & SDP20130008, Dylan M. Sullivan, Court Commissioner, denied the motion, terminated parental rights, and selected … Read more

In re Isaiah W., August 8, 2014 (California)

Synopsis provided by Westlaw: Department of Children and Family Services filed a petition alleging that mother’s and father’s illicit drug use placed child at risk of harm. After terminating parents’ reunification services and setting a hearing on the termination of parental rights, the Superior Court, Los Angeles County, No. CK91018, Jacqueline H. Lewis, J., entered order … Read more

In the Matter of Abbigail A. June 16, 2014 (California)

Synopsis from Westlaw: County department of health and human services filed  dependency petitions as to two children. The Superior Court, Sacramento County, Nos. JD232871 & JD232872, Paul L. Seave, J., directed counsel to make reasonable efforts to enroll the children and their father in a tribe which had notified the court that they were eligible … Read more

Lawsuit Against California Districts Allege Abuse of Native Students

[T]wo federal lawsuits [were] filed December 18 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California against two Humboldt County School Districts—Eureka City and Loleta Union—that accuse school officials of perpetuating systemic physical, emotional and sexual abuse of Native American and African-American students. … “This lawsuit was really a last resort,” Nelson said. “It’s been … Read more

In re D.N. August 14, 2013 (California)

Here is text from the opinion: R.N. (mother) and E.T. (father) appeal from the order terminating their parental rights to daughters D.N. and A.T. The parents argue there is a lack of compliance with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. section 1901 et seq. (ICWA). We affirm. Substantial evidence supports … Read more

American Indian Enhancement Project Toolkit

The American Indian Enhancement (AIE) Project Toolkit provides the concepts, guidance, and action steps necessary for developing a programmatic infrastructure within the child welfare agency to improve outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native families and children in the child welfare system. The toolkit is designed to assist your county to advance child welfare practice … Read more

ICWA Resource Page (California Courts)

The Tribal/State Programs Unit of the Center for Families Children and the California Courts have created a webpage to assist those involved in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) proceedings.  The page can help them understand their legal obligations under ICWA and comply with those requirements. Subjects covered include ICWA job aids; law, rules & regulations; … Read more

LA Courts to Mandate Tribal Sign Off in Psych Drugs Prescribed to American Indian Children

In a move that may prove to have national implications, a Los Angeles Superior Court subcommittee, Psychotropic Medication Committee, is in the process of mandating permission from American Indian tribes before American Indian children in the foster care system in Los Angeles County can be prescribed a psych medication. Read the full article at the … Read more

Tribal Customary Adoption Case in California’s Third District Court of Appeal

This week’s Indian Law Bulletin from the National Indian Law Library included a summary and link for In re A.M.  from the State Court of Appeal, Third District, California.  The case raises issues related to tribal customary adoption and application of the Indian child exception.  Read more and find links to the case at the … Read more

Program: Tribal STAR (Successful Transitions for Adult Readiness)

Tribal STAR (Successful Transitions for Adult Readiness) is a program of the San Diego State University School of Social Work, Academy for Professional Excellence. It’s mission is to ensure Tribal foster youth are connected to culture, community and resources. The program does this by providing training and technical assistance to tribes, tribal programs, county social … Read more

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

The Guide is intended to answer questions and provide a comprehensive resource of information on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The online version at was created as a complement to the print version of the Guide, which was printed by the Native American Rights Fund in 2007. While the topical sections are identical … Read more