Presentation on theme: "The Indian Child Welfare Act: History, Purpose and Application Presented by: Kris Goodwill – Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians."— Presentation transcript:
The Indian Child Welfare Act: History, Purpose and Application Presented by: Kris Goodwill – Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Paul Stenzel – Stenzel Law Office June 15, 2007
Part I: History and Purpose of the Indian Child Welfare Act Part II: Application of the Act Part III: Major Cases Part IV: Questions & Issues
History & Purpose From the late 19 th century to the mid 1970s, Indian families were subjected to various forces which negatively impacted the family unit: –Allotment Act –Assimilation –Termination
History & Purpose By the 1960s there was a recognition that Indian families were being broken apart at an alarming rate due to state social service departments removing children and placing them in non-Indian homes.
History & Purpose Studies in 1969 and 1974 showed that 25 to 35% of all Indian children had been separated from their families and placed in adoptive families, foster care, or institutions.
History & Purpose The same studies found that in the State of Minnesota one in eight Indian children under the age of 18 was in an adoptive home, and during 1971- 1972 nearly one in every four infants under one year of age was placed for adoption.
History & Purpose In Wisconsin the risk of being separated from their children was 1,600% greater for Indians.
History & Purpose 90% of the Indian placements were in non- Indian homes.
History & Purpose In South Dakota, 40 percent of all adoptions by the State were of Indian children, yet they made up only 7% of the population.
History & Purpose Chairman Calvin Isaac, at ICWA Senate Hearings: “One of the most serious failings of the present system is that Indian children are removed from the custody of their natural parents by nontribal government authorities who have no basis for intelligently evaluating the cultural and social premises underlying Indian home life and childrearing.”
History & Purpose Chief Isaac (cont’d): “Many of the individuals who decide the fate of our children are at best ignorant of our cultural values, and at worst contemptful of the Indian way and convinced that removal, usually to a non-Indian household or institution, can only benefit an Indian child.”
History & Purpose Chief Isaac: “Culturally, the chances of Indian survival are significantly reduced if our children, the only real means for the transmission of the tribal heritage, are to be raised in non-Indian homes and denied exposure to the ways of their People.”
History & Purpose The congressional hearings demonstrated the tremendous harm that had come to Indian families, tribes and children. The ICWA was passed to prevent it from happening in the future.
History & Purpose In addition, it is clear that Congress' concern over the placement of Indian children in non-Indian homes was based in part on evidence of the detrimental impact on the children themselves of such placements outside their culture. … Mississippi Choctaw Band v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 49-50 (1989)
History & Purpose "[r]emoval of Indian children from their cultural setting seriously impacts a long-term tribal survival and has damaging social and psychological impact on many individual Indian children." Senate Report, at 52. Holyfield, 490 U.S. at 51.
History & Purpose “Probably in no area is it more important that tribal sovereignty be respected than in an area as socially and culturally determinative as family relationships.” Holyfield, 490 U.S. at 34 (quoting, Chief Isaac, hearings in front of the Lands of the House Committee on Interior & Insular Affairs, 95th Cong., 2d Sess., at 193 (1978)).
History & Purpose Without ICWA, the best interest of the child standard, as defined by the mainstream culture, fails to take into account Tribes’ unique culture. The ICWA, by providing for intervention and an order of placement preferences, essentially added new elements to the best interest of the child standard which recognize tribal interests.
History & Purpose One of the most important reasons to understand the legislative history is because there are some gaps and inconsistencies in the Act, e.g., notice and intervention in voluntary proceedings. Some state courts have used these inconsistencies and gaps to unduly narrow the Act’s applicability.
History & Purpose Understanding the history and purpose of Act will help judges make decisions consistent with the policy goals of Congress.
Part II: Application of the Act § 1903. Definitions (1)''child custody proceeding'' shall mean and include – (i)''foster care placement'' which shall mean any action removing an Indian child from its parent or Indian custodian for temporary placement in a foster home or institution or the home of a guardian or conservator where the parent or Indian custodian cannot have the child returned upon demand, but where parental rights have not been terminated;
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1903 (1) (cont’d) (ii) “termination of parental rights” which shall mean any action resulting in the termination of the parent-child relationship. (iii) “preadoptive placement” which shall mean the temporary placement of an Indian child in a foster home or institution after the termination of parental rights, but prior to or in lieu of adoptive placement; and (iv) “adoptive placement” which shall mean the permanent placement of an Indian child for adoption, including any action resulting in a final decree of adoption.
Application of the Act Act applies to proceeding where grandparents are seeking guardianship. In re Guardianship of J.C.D., 2004 S.D. 96, 686 N.W.2d 647, (S.D. 08/25/2004) A “child custody proceeding” includes intra- familial disputes between the parents and maternal grandmother who is the current guardian of the children. In re A.K.H., 502 N.W.2d 790 (Minn. 1993).
Application of the Act § 1903. Definitions Such term or terms shall not include a placement based upon an act which, if committed by an adult, would be deemed a crime or upon an award, in a divorce proceeding, of custody to one of the parents.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1903 Definitions (2) ''extended family member'' shall be as defined by the law or custom of the Indian child's tribe or, in the absence of such law or custom, shall be a person who has reached the age of eighteen and who is the Indian child's grandparent, aunt or uncle, brother or sister, brother-in-law or sister-in- law, niece or nephew, first or second cousin, or stepparent;
Application of the Act (4) ''Indian child'' means any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe;
Application of the Act The question of whether a person is a member of a tribe, under ICWA, is for the tribe itself to answer. In re N.E.G.P., 245 Mich. App. 126, 626 N.W.2d 921 (2001).
Application of the Act (5) ''Indian child's tribe'' means (a) the Indian tribe in which an Indian child is a member or eligible for membership or (b), in the case of an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in more than one tribe, the Indian tribe with which the Indian child has the more significant contacts;
Application of the Act (12) ''tribal court'' means a court with jurisdiction over child custody proceedings and which is either a Court of Indian Offenses, a court established and operated under the code or custom of an Indian tribe, or any other administrative body of a tribe which is vested with authority over child custody proceedings.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1911. Indian tribe jurisdiction over Indian child custody proceedings (a) Exclusive jurisdiction An Indian tribe shall have jurisdiction exclusive as to any State over any child custody proceeding involving an Indian child who resides or is domiciled within the reservation of such tribe, except where such jurisdiction is otherwise vested in the State by existing Federal law. … See Wisconsin Atty. Gen Op., 70 Op. Att’y Gen. 237, 243 (1981)
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1911(b) In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child not domiciled or residing within the reservation of the Indian child's tribe, the court, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, shall transfer such proceeding to the jurisdiction of the tribe, absent objection by either parent, upon the petition of either parent or the Indian custodian or the Indian child's tribe: Provided, That such transfer shall be subject to declination by the tribal court of such tribe.
Application of the Act Parent has a right to request a transfer under 25 USC § 1911(b). Brown County v. Marcella G., 2001 WI App 194, 247 Wis.2d 158, 634 N.W.2d 140.
Application of the Act BIA Guidelines re “good cause to the contrary” –The proceeding is at an advanced stage and petitioner did not file promptly. –The Indian child is over 12 and objects to the transfer. –The evidence necessary to decide the case could not be adequately presented in the tribal court without undue hardship on the parties or the witnesses. –The parents of a child over five years of age are not available and the child has had little or no contact with the child’s tribe or members of the child’s tribe. 44 Fed. Reg. 67,584 (1979) State v. Mille Lacs Band Of Chippewa Indians, 618 N.W.2d 274, 2000 WI App 214, (Wis.App. 08/22/2000)(unpublished)
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1911(c): In any State court proceeding for the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child, the Indian custodian of the child and the Indian child's tribe shall have a right to intervene at any point in the proceeding.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1911(d) The United States, every State, every territory or possession of the United States, and every Indian tribe shall give full faith and credit to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of any Indian tribe applicable to Indian child custody proceedings to the same extent that such entities give full faith and credit to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of any other entity.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1912. Pending court proceedings In any involuntary proceeding in a State court, where the court knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved, the party seeking the foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child shall notify the parent or Indian custodian and the Indian child's tribe, by registered mail with return receipt requested, of the pending proceedings and of their right of intervention.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1912(b) Appointment of counsel In any case in which the court determines indigency, the parent or Indian custodian shall have the right to court- appointed counsel in any removal, placement, or termination proceeding.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1912(d): Any party seeking to effect a foster care placement of, or termination of parental rights to, an Indian child under State law shall satisfy the court that active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and that these efforts have proved unsuccessful.
Application of the Act The state of Iowa has codified a list of active efforts: a. A request to the Indian child's tribe to convene traditional and customary support and resolution actions or services. b. Identification and participation of tribally designated representatives at the earliest point. c. Consultation with extended family members to identify family structure and family support services that may be provided by extended family members.
Application of the Act d. Frequent visitation in the Indian child's home and the homes of the child's extended family members. e. Exhaustion of all tribally appropriate family preservation alternatives. f. Identification and provision of information to the child's family concerning community resources that may be able to offer housing, financial, and transportation assistance and actively assisting the family in accessing the community resources. Iowa Code § 232B.5(19)
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1912(e): No foster care placement may be ordered in such proceeding in the absence of a determination, supported by clear and convincing evidence, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1912(f) No termination of parental rights may be ordered in such proceeding in the absence of a determination, supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of qualified expert witnesses, that the continued custody of the child by the parent or Indian custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.
Application of the Act 1912(e) and (f) cases: QEW is always needed; In re Elliott, 554 NW 2d 32 (Mich. Ct. App. 1996). In re DSP, 166 Wis.2d 464 (1992). Indian social workers qualify as expert witnesses and cites to Guidelines. Without QEW testimony under the meaning of ICWA, Petitioner cannot show BRD that mother’s failure to rehabilitate is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. In re Jessica T., 1993 WL 566662 (Conn. Super. Ct. Dec. 20, 1993).
Application of the Act 1912(e) and (f) cases In Alaska two cases with opposite holding on the issue of whether the QEW must meet with the parents and children. CJ v. State of Alaska, 18 P. 3d 1214 (Alaska 2001) and JA v. State of Alaska, 50 P. 3d 388 (Alaska 2002)
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1913(a) Where any parent or Indian custodian voluntarily consents to a foster care placement or to termination of parental rights, such consent shall not be valid unless: executed in writing and recorded before a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction accompanied by the presiding judge's certificate that the terms and consequences of the consent were fully explained in detail and were fully understood by the parent or Indian custodian.
Application of the Act 25 USC 1913(a) (cont’d) Any consent given prior to, or within ten days after, birth of the Indian child shall not be valid.
Application of the Act 25 USC 1913 (b) Any parent or Indian custodian may withdraw consent to a foster care placement under State law at any time and, upon such withdrawal, the child shall be returned to the parent or Indian custodian.
Application of the Act 25 USC 1913(c) In any voluntary proceeding for termination of parental rights to, or adoptive placement of, an Indian child, the consent of the parent may be withdrawn for any reason at any time prior to the entry of a final decree of termination or adoption, as the case may be, and the child shall be returned to the parent.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1913(d) (Fraud or duress is a basis for withdrawal of consent and vacation of adoption decree.) No adoption which has been effective for at least two years may be invalidated under the provisions of this subsection unless otherwise permitted under State law.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1914. Any Indian child who is the subject of any action for foster care placement or termination of parental rights under State law, any parent or Indian custodian from whose custody such child was removed, and the Indian child's tribe may petition any court of competent jurisdiction to invalidate such action upon a showing that such action violated any provision of sections 1911, 1912, and 1913 of this title.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1915. Placement of Indian children (a) Adoptive placements; preferences In any adoptive placement of an Indian child under State law, a preference shall be given, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, to a placement with (1) a member of the child's extended family; (2) other members of the Indian child's tribe; or (3) other Indian families.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1915(b): In any foster care or preadoptive placement, a preference shall be given, in the absence of good cause to the contrary, to a placement with - (i)a member of the Indian child's extended family; (ii) a foster home licensed, approved, or specified by the Indian child's tribe; (iii) an Indian foster home licensed or approved by an authorized non-Indian licensing authority; or (iv) an institution for children approved by an Indian tribe or operated by an Indian organization which has a program suitable to meet the Indian child's needs.
Application of the Act When foster and pre-adoptive placement preference under the ICWA has not been considered, remanding the case is the appropriate remedy. In re NL, 754 P.2d 863 (Okla. 1988). Expert testimony is necessary to demonstrate good cause to deviate from placement preferences. In the Matter of the Welfare of SNR, 617 N.W.2d 77 (Minn. 2000).
Application of the Act The court should consider the deprivation of the rich Indian heritage that would occur if the children were placed in a white foster home. Cultural and socioeconomic considerations to justify placement in a white foster home is inappropriate under ICWA. In re JRH, 358 N.W.2d 311 (Iowa 1984).
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1915(c): In the case of a placement under subsection (a) or (b) of this section, if the Indian child's tribe shall establish a different order of preference by resolution, the agency or court effecting the placement shall follow such order so long as the placement is the least restrictive setting appropriate to the particular needs of the child, as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1915(c) (cont’d) Where appropriate, the preference of the Indian child or parent shall be considered: Provided, That where a consenting parent evidences a desire for anonymity, the court or agency shall give weight to such desire in applying the preferences.
Application of the Act The Tribe's right to enforce statutory preference for adoptive placement of Indian children prevailed over parent statutorily recognized interest in anonymity. In re Baby Girl Doe, 262 Mont. 380, 865 P.2d 1090 (1993).
Application of the Act 25 USC § 1915(d): The standards to be applied in meeting the preference requirements of this section shall be the prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian community in which the parent or extended family resides or with which the parent or extended family members maintain social and cultural ties.
Major cases Mississippi Choctaw v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30 (1989) – U.S. Supreme Court reversed an adoption where the parents were residing on the Reservation but left to have the child and place it for private adoption in an effort to avoid the Act.
Major Cases In Re Interest of D.S.P., 166 Wis.2d 464 (1992). Dual burden of proof proper: –BRD for 25 USC 1912(f) issue –Clear and convincing for TPR grounds
Proposed amendments to Wis. Ch. 48 WI Codification effort Define QEW Require QEW before CHIPs disposition order
Additional resources www.nicwa.org (National Indian Child Welfare Association) The Indian Child Welfare Act Handbook, B.J. Jones, Family Law Section, ABA http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/children/ICW/INDEX.htm (Wis. DHFS resource) http://www.tribal-institute.org/lists/icwa.htm (General Resources on ICWA) BIA State Court Guidelines –44 Fed. Reg. 67,584 (1979) –On Compact Disc in materials. ICWA Legislative History – House Report (on Compact Disc) http://www.icwlc.org/sourcebook.pdf