In an appeal from a WIC section 366.26 hearing, the Department conceded that it failed to comply with its initial duty of inquiry under the ICWA when it did not question maternal relatives as to whether the minor might be of Indian descent. The Court agreed and conditionally reversed and remanded for compliance with the ICWA and related state law.

In an appeal from disposition, the Court found that the Agency’s initial ICWA inquiry was incomplete and prejudicial. In addition, the juvenile court failed to ensure the ICWA inquiry was adequate and failed to make any ICWA finding as to either parent. The disposition order was conditionally affirmed and the matter remanded for the Agency and juvenile court to comply with ICWA inquiry and, if necessary, notice provisions.

In an appeal from the termination of parental rights, the Court agreed with mother and found the Agency failed to make a proper inquiry of extended family members regarding the child’s possible Indian ancestry and the juvenile court failed to ensure the Agency’s compliance with its duty of inquiry. The court’s ICWA finding was therefore erroneous and the matter was conditionally reversed and remanded for ICWA compliance.

In this appeal from a WIC section 366.26 hearing, appellant argued the Department failed to conduct an adequate ICWA inquiry. The Department conceded there were “inadvertent omissions in the inquiry.” The Court agreed with the parties and conditionally reversed the order terminating parental rights to ensure ICWA compliance.

The Department conceded that the juvenile court failed to make any ICWA findings prior to terminating parental rights. The Court remanded the proceedings to determine if the Department discharged its duty of inquiry and notice under WIC sections 224.2 and 224.3.

The Court finds the Department did not discharge its ICWA duty of initial inquiry. The Department’s reports did not include “detailed descriptions” of any inquiries made of extended family members. In addition, the juvenile court did not meet its duty to ensure the Department adequately investigated possible Indian ancestry. The Department did not oppose a conditional reversal and remand for ICWA compliance.

The Court found the Department failed to make a proper inquiry of mother and extended family members regarding the children’s possible Indian ancestry and the juvenile court failed to ensure the Department’s compliance with its duty of inquiry. The order terminating parental rights was conditionally reversed to allow the Department and the court to comply with ICWA and state law.

In this appeal from the termination of parental rights, the Department conceded the Department and juvenile court failed to fulfill its duty to conduct an adequate inquiry under the ICWA. There was a reason to believe the children might be Indian which triggered the duty of further inquiry. The Court determined conditional reversal, not conditional affirmance, was appropriate.

The Court of Appeal found the Agency failed to satisfy its inquiry and notice obligations under the ICWA and related California law. The Agency was informed that the maternal grandmother had Native American ancestry, but made no effort to investigate family members. Notice to the tribes was also incomplete. The “affirmative duty to gather relevant information…is critical to ensure that the notice requirements are satisfied in a meaningful way.” Pursuant to “established appellate practice,” the order terminating parental rights was conditionally reversed and remanded to  ensure compliance with the ICWA.

The Court of Appeal conditionally reversed the order terminating parental rights and remanded the matter to the juvenile court with the directions to order the Agency to comply with the inquiry and notice provisions of ICWA and the current versions of sections 224.2 and 224.3 with specific direction that the Agency was to make proper and adequate inquiry of mother and known maternal and paternal relatives concerning potential Indian ancestry and to send new ICWA notices to all appropriate tribes.

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