Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Tribal Code
TITLE III CHILD WELFARE
CHAPTER 5 PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Section 3-5-1. Purpose
Section 3-5-2. Abused or Neglected Child Defined
Section 3-5-3. Person Mandated to Report Child Abuse or Neglect
Section 3-5-4. Investigation
Section 3-5-5. Substantiated/Unsubstantiated Reports
Section 3-5-6. Release of Information
Section 3-5-7. Confidentiality
Section 3-5-8. Immunity From Liability
Section 3-5-9. Child Protection Teams
Section 3-5-10. Appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem
Section 3-5-11. Remedial Measures to Prevent Removal of Children From Their Home
Section 3-5-12. Standards for Removal/Foster Care Placements
Section 3-5-13. Foster Care Placement Preferences
Section 3-5-14. Final Decree of Disposition
Section 3-5-15. Criteria for Determining Continued Placement
Section 3-5-16. Termination of Parental Rights
Section 3-5-17. Voluntary Termination
Section 3-5-18. Termination of Parental Rights Based on Abandonment
Section 3-5-19. Notice of Final Decree
Section 3-5-20. Continuing Jurisdiction
The purpose of this Chapter is to protect children from abuse and neglect. Adjudication of a child as an abused or neglected child is an adjudication of the status or condition of the child.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-1, PTN Code § 3-5-1
The definition of an abused or neglected child shall be a child:
(1) Whose parent, guardian or custodian has abandoned the child or has subjected the child to mistreatment or physical battering;
(2) Who lacks proper parental care through the actions or omissions of the child's parent, guardian or custodian;
(3) Whose environment is injurious to the child's welfare;
(4) Whose parent, guardian or custodian fails or refuses to provide prior or necessary subsistence, supervision, education, medical care or any other care necessary for the child's health, guidance or well-being;
(5) Who is homeless, without proper care or not domiciled with the child's parent, guardian or custodian through no fault of the child's parent, guardian or custodian;
(6) Who is threatened with substantial harm;
(7) Who has sustained emotional harm or mental injury as indicated by the child's intellectual or psychological capacity evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the child's ability to function within the child's normal range of performance and behavior, with due regard to the child's culture.
(8) Who is subject to sexual abuse, sexual molestation or sexual exploitation by the child's parent, guardian, custodian or any other person; or
(9) Who is left unattended or unsupervised for extended periods of time, if under fourteen (14) years of age, in circumstances that pose a risk of substantial harm to the child.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-2, PTN Code § 3-5-2
Any person who is a health care provider, mental health professional or counselor, social worker, law enforcement officer, teacher, school counselor or licensed or registered child care provider who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected is required to report such information. The report shall be made to the Tribal Attorney, the tribal Department of Social Services or to law enforcement officials. Reports shall include the name, address, and age of the child, the name and address of the child's parents, guardian or custodian, if known, and details of suspected or known instances of child abuse or neglect. The Department of Social Services shall be the central registry for such information.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-3, PTN Code § 3-5-3
Upon receipt of a report pursuant to Section 3-5-3 or any other report of child abuse or neglect, the Department of Social Services and law enforcement officers shall investigate the report. Investigating personnel have the authority to interview a child out of the presence of the child's parents, guardian or custodian without advanced notice or consent. Investigations may include the taking of photographs of the areas of trauma visible on the child and medical examinations or testing of the child without the consent of the parent, guardian or custodian. Investigations by the Department of Social Services shall be made and completed within thirty (30) days of receiving notice of the alleged abuse or neglect.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-4, PTN Code § 3-5-4
Upon completion of an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect, the Department of Social Services shall make a determination as to whether evidence exists to substantiate the allegation of abuse or neglect. If the report is substantiated, the information shall be added to the central registry for child abuse and neglect and then forwarded to the Tribal Attorney for appropriate action. If the allegations are not substantiated by the evidence, the Department of Social Services shall close the case. The case will not be recorded into the central registry.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-5, PTN Code § 3-5-5
Upon receipt by the Department of Social Services of a request showing that it is necessary for the individual to have information in the performance of official functions related to child abuse or neglect, the Department of Social Services shall release records, files or other information to the following parties:
(1) The Tribal Attorney, law enforcement agencies, and protective service workers investigating reports of known or suspected child abuse or neglect;
(2) The attorney or guardian ad litem of the child who is the subject of the information;
(3) Tribal institutions and agencies that have legal responsibility or authorization to care for, treat or supervise a child who is the subject of the information or report;
(4) A licensed child/pediatric psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health counselor; and
(5) A physician who has before him a child whom the physician reasonably believes may be abused or neglected.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-6, PTN Code § 3-5-6
All investigative case records and files relating to reports of child abuse or neglect are confidential, and no disclosure of records, files or other information may be made except as authorized in this Title. Any person, who knowingly violates the confidential nature of the records, files or information shall be subject to punishment as provided for in this Code or any other policy, ordinance or rule of the Tribe.
Information received by an authorized party pursuant to Sections 3-5-5 and 3-5-6 shall be held confidential by the receiving party. However, the Court may order the release of the information or any portion of it necessary for determination of an issue before the Court.
The privilege of confidentiality may not be claimed in any judicial proceeding involving an alleged abused or neglected child or resulting from the giving, or cause the giving of, a report concerning abuse or neglect of child pursuant to this Chapter.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-7, PTN Code § 3-5-7
Any person or party acting in good faith in the making of a report or the submission of copies of medical examination, treatment or hospitalization records pursuant to this Chapter, is immune from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed and has the same immunity for participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from the report. Immunity also extends to persons involved in the investigation and treatment of child abuse or neglect or making a temporary placement of the child pursuant to this Chapter or to any person who in good faith cooperates with the Department of Social Services in investigation, placement or treatment plan. The provisions of this section allowing the granting of immunity do not extend to any person alleged to have committed an act or acts of child abuse or neglect. It is not a violation of this Chapter for a parent to leave a child who is ninety (90) days of age or younger at a Ponca Tribal Office during operating hours, or a hospital in a Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Designated Service Area. Should a child be left with personnel at the aforementioned locations, the appropriate Tribal and State entities will be notified for proper care of the child.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-8, PTN Code § 3-5-8
The Department of Social Services may appoint a child protection team to assist in prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. The child protection team may include licensed or certified medical and health professionals, court services officers, representatives of the Department of Social Services, mental health professionals, representatives of the public school, attorneys and representatives of the tribal community. The Department of Social Services shall promulgate rules and regulations for the development of a child protection team.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-9, PTN Code § 3-5-9
The Court may appoint a guardian ad litem for an alleged or adjudicated abused or neglected child to represent the best interests of the child. The guardian ad litem is an officer of the Court for the purpose of representing the child's best interests. The guardian ad litem shall receive all reports concerning the child pursuant to Sections 3-5-5 and 3-5-6. The guardian ad litem shall investigate the circumstances of each case the guardian is appointed to represent. The investigation shall include contacts with family members, school officials, and other individuals having pertinent information regarding the child.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-10, PTN Code § 3-5-10
Except as provided in Chapter 4, Section 3-4-7, prior to the removal of an alleged or adjudicated abused or neglected child from the home of the child's parents, guardian or custodian, the Court shall make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child. Under any circumstance, other than an emergency, any party seeking to effect the removal of a child from the child's home for foster care placement or termination of parental rights must first satisfy the Court that active efforts have been made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the family unit and that these efforts have proven unsuccessful.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-11, PTN Code § 3-5-11
A child may not be removed from the child's home and placed in foster care, except as provided in Section 3-4-6, until the Court has made a judicial determination, supported by clear and convincing evidence, that the continued custody of the child by the child's parent, guardian or custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child and that remedial measures under Section 3-5-11 have been attempted by the Court and have proven unsuccessful.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-12, PTN Code § 3-5-12
When any child is placed in foster care, the child shall be placed in the least restrictive setting which most approximates a family and in which the child's needs may be met. The Court may consult with the child, in an age-appropriate manner, to determine what foster care placement is in the best interests of the child. In any foster care or pre-adoptive placement, a preference shall be given in the absence of good cause to the contrary, to placement in the following order:
(1) A member of the child's extended family;
(2) An Indian foster home licensed by either the Tribe or the State of Nebraska;
(3) Any foster home licensed by the State of Nebraska or any State within the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska service areas; or
(4) An institution for children approved by the Tribe and the Court.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-13, PTN Code § 3-5-13
The Court shall enter a final decree of disposition which shall include one or more of the following provisions appropriate as the least restrictive alternative available;
(1) Place the child in the custody of one or both parents or in the custody of another individual under the preferences set out in Section 3-5-13, without a Court approved plan for long term foster care, subject to the conditions that the Court deems necessary and appropriate;
(2) Place the child in the custody of the Department of Social Services pursuant to a Court approved plan for placement under Section 3-5-13.
(3) Order that the child be examined by a physician or qualified mental health professional or that the child receive other special care or be placed in a suitable facility for such purposes as the Court deems necessary or appropriate. Further hearings shall be held as necessary following any examination.
If disposition of the child under this Section involves the removal from, or the non-return of the child to, the home of the child's parents, guardian or custodian and placement of the child in the custody of the Department of Social Services for placement in foster care, the court shall include in the decree a written judicial determination, supported by clear and convincing evidence, that the continued custody of the child by the child's parents, guardian or custodian is likely to result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child and that remedial and rehabilitative measures have been attempted and proven unsuccessful.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-14, PTN Code § 3-5-14
In conducting the review hearing required by Section 3-5-14, the Court may continue placement of the child separate from the home of the child's parents, guardian or custodian upon a written judicial determination that return of the child to the home would likely result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child and that remedial and rehabilitative measures which would make it possible for the child to return to the home have been attempted and proven unsuccessful. The Court may consult with the child, in an age-appropriate manner when making its continued placement determination. In making this determination, the Court may consider the following criteria:
(1) The goals of the foster care placement and the appropriateness of the foster care;
(2) The assistance and services which have been offered to reunite the child with the child's parents, guardian or custodian and the good faith efforts, or their lack, and ability of the child's parents, guardian or custodian to cooperate with the department and to effectively utilize the assistance and services for the benefit and welfare of the child; and
(3) If the return of the child to the home of the child's parents, guardian or custodian is not likely, the reasonable efforts of the department that have been made or should be made to provide for other methods of care in keeping with the best interests of the child.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-15, PTN Code § 3-5-15
The Court shall affirmatively find that good cause exists for termination of the parental rights of the child's parent(s) and the Court shall enter an order terminating parental rights when an abused or neglected child has been in the custody of the Department of Social Services without a Court approved plan for long-term foster care and parental rights have not been terminated and it appears at a dispositional or review hearing:
(1) That all reasonable efforts have been made to rehabilitate the family; and
(2) That the conditions which led to the removal of the child still exist; and
(3) There is little likelihood that those conditions will be remedied so that the child can be returned to the custody of the child's parent; and
(4) Evidence exists beyond a reasonable doubt that the custody of the child with the child's parent would likely result in serious emotional or physical harm to the child.
The Court shall give notification of such termination of parental rights to the child's home tribe. Upon entry of the final decree of disposition terminating the parental rights of one or both parents, the Court shall award the Department of Social Services custody and guardianship of the child for the purpose of placing the child for adoption and authorizing any notice or consent of any parent or child. Upon entry of final decree of disposition terminating the parental rights of one parent, the Court may leave the child in the custody of the remaining parent and end all proceedings.
If the Court does not find that good cause exists for termination of parental rights, the Court shall make further disposition of the child as follows:
(1) Return custody of the child to the child's parents, guardian or custodian, with or without supervision; or
(2) Continue foster care placement of the child for a specified period of time, and if the child is sixteen (16) years of age or older, direct the Department of Social Services to determine the services needed to assist the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living and, if appropriate, provide a plan for independent living for the child; or
(3) Place the child in the custody of the Department of Social Services, a foster home or other child care facility for long-term foster care under a court approved plan, with or without guardianship of the child, and determine visitation rights of the child's parents, guardian or custodian. Under this subdivision, the Court may retain jurisdiction of the action and proceedings for future consideration of termination of parental rights.
In no case may a child remain in foster care for a period in excess of eighteen (18) months without the Court entering an order setting forth one of the above options. The transfer of proper jurisdiction is mandatory which shall include the State of Nebraska, the home state of the child, or the child's appropriate tribal court.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-16, PTN Code § 3-5-16
A child's parent(s) may voluntarily consent to termination of parental rights. The consent shall be executed in writing and recorded in a hearing (which shall include a telephone hearing) in which the parent(s) shall acknowledge in writing and under oath that the terms and consequences of the consent were fully understood by the parent. The parent may withdraw consent at any time prior to the entry of a final decree of termination and request return of the child.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-17, PTN Code § 3-5-17
The Court may terminate the parental rights of one or both parents upon a showing that the parent(s) have totally abandoned the child for at least six (6) months and during this period the parents have made no attempt to resume physical custody of the child or make suitable arrangements for the child. Termination under these conditions shall be made in accordance with Section 3-5-16.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-18, PTN Code § 3-5-18
Notice of entry of order of adjudication or final decree of disposition issued by the Court shall be served on the child's attorney or guardian ad litem, and other respondent parties. Notice by publication shall be published in a newspaper most likely to provide notice to the parties for at least thirty (30) days and shall be completed five (5) days after the date of publication. Appeal from a final decree begins on the day following the date of completed service of the notice of entry regardless of the manner in which the notice of entry is served. An appeal of a final order must be entered within thirty (30) days of the final date of order.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-19, PTN Code § 3-5-19
In any action involving the termination of parental rights, the Court shall have continuing jurisdiction of the action and of the child for purposes of reviewing the status of the child until the adoption is fully completed. The Department of Social Services, or any other party having custody or guardianship of the child pending adoption, may petition the Court to review the status of the child at any time before the adoption of the child is completed. The Court may issue any order or decrees necessary to protect the child's interests, to preserve the child's welfare, and to facilitate adoption of the child.
Adoption proceedings shall be conducted pursuant to Title IV, Chapter 8, Section 4-8-3 through 4-8-18 of this Code.
Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Code § 3-5-20, PTN Code § 3-5-20