In re K.J.B., June 11, 2015, (Washington)

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.

Washington Tribes Urge Restart of Background Checks in Child Placement

Washington tribes and the country’s largest group representing Native Americans are asking for state and federal help in getting background checks when a tribe needs to place a child with a foster parent in an emergency situation.

The state’s Children’s Administration, a division of the Department of Social and Health Services, had conducted the criminal background checks for the tribes for years. But Jennifer Strus, the agency’s assistant secretary, sent a letter to the tribes in June saying that service would no longer be provided effective July 1, 2014.

Read the full article at the Bellingham Herald website.

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare Act

A Practical Guide to the Indian Child Welfare ActThe Guide is intended to answer questions and provide a comprehensive resource of information on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The online version at http://www.narf.org/icwa 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 to the print version, the electronic copy has links to thousands of state and federal resources (cases, laws, etc.). In addition to the materials available in the original 360 page print edition, the online version includes more recent cases and a short list of recent ICWA news.