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 remanded the matter because the lower court used an incorrect standard in assessing good cause. The dependency court has now correctly applied the law governing good cause, considering the bond Alexandria has developed over time with the P.s, as well as a number of other factors related to her best interests. Those other factors include Alexandria’s relationship with her ex tended family and half-siblings; the capacity of her extended family to maintain and develop her sense of self-identity, including her cultural identity and connection to the Choctaw tribal culture; and the P.s’ relative reluctance or resistance to foster Alexandria’ s relationship with her extended family or encourage exploration of and exposure to her Choctaw cultural identity.

Because substantial evidence supports the court’s finding that the P.s did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that there was good cause to depart from the ICWA’s placement preferences, we affirm.

Find a case summary and the full opinion at the court’s website.

Indian Children’s Law in Choctaw Foster Case Praised by Some, Criticized by Others

A California couple’s fight to reunite with a 6-year-old foster child who was taken from their home last week because she is 1/64th Choctaw Native American has cast a spotlight on the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The law has been long hailed as a protective tool for Native American communities by some and criticized as misinterpreted and misguided by others.

Read the full article at the NBC News website.

California Returns Child to Family in ICWA Case (Updated 3/28/2016)

On Monday, March 21, pandemonium broke out in Santa Clarita, California, at the home of foster couple Summer and Russell Page as social workers from the Department of Children and Family Services arrived to pick up a 6-year-old girl who was being held by the couple in defiance of a court ordering her returned to relatives after a five-year custody battle.

Read the full article at the Indian Country Today Media Network website.

See more coverage:

“Indian Child Welfare Act to separate foster daughter from family” at the ABC7 Chicago website (3/21/2016)

“NCAI Supports Responsible, Informed Response to California ICWA Case” at the Indian Country Today Media Network website (3/23/2016)

“Santa Clarita foster parents appeal to state Supreme Court in tribal custody battle” at the LA Times website (3/23/2016)

“Custody case of Native American girl appealed to high court” at the Eastern University Waltonian website (3/24/2016)