2016 WL 6879279
Only the Westlaw citation is currently available.
Court of Appeal,
First District, Division 1, California.
IN RE O.C. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
Mendocino County Health & Human Services Agency, Children and Family Services, Plaintiff and Respondent,
A.C. et al., Defendants and Appellants.
Certified for Partial Publication.*
Attorneys and Law Firms
Jamie A. Moran, San Diego, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Mother.
Law Office of Linda J. Conrad, Linda J. Conrad, Davis, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Father.
Katharine L. Elliott, Mendocino County Counsel, Douglas V. Parker, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
*1 The parents of minors O.C. and M.C. appeal from the juvenile court’s order terminating their parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.26.)1 Father A.C. (Father) contends the order must be reversed because the trial court failed to comply with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) (ICWA). Mother joins in that argument. She also contends the order must be reversed because minor M.C. is not adoptable, and because the sibling bond exception to adoption applies. We reject Mother’s separate contentions but reverse for ICWA error.
COMBINED STATEMENT OF CASE AND FACTS
Initial Detention, Jurisdiction and Disposition
O.C., age two, and M.C., age four, were detained after their parents’ residence was raided by the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force on June 24, 2014. On June 27, 2014, the Mendocino County Health & Human Services Agency, Children and Family Services (Agency) filed a section 300 petition against both parents alleging, among other things, that the parents were engaged in marijuana cultivation and other illegal activity and were unable to meet the children’s basic needs, including a safe and hazard-free home. Both parents were alleged to have substance abuse problems that made them unable to care properly for their children, and Father was in Mendocino County jail. Following argument, the parents submitted on the Agency’s report for detention and the children were ordered detained.
At the jurisdiction hearing on July 23, 2014, the parties agreed to certain amendments to the petition, then Mother and Father submitted on the amended allegations and the court found the amended allegations true. The boys were placed together in a shelter home. Father remained in county jail. At the disposition hearing on August 28, 2014, the court ordered the children to be returned to Mother under a family maintenance plan.
Section 387 Petition, Joint Jurisdiction-Disposition Hearing, and Six-month Review.
On October 7, 2014, the Agency filed a supplemental petition after mother was arrested in another task force raid in which drug paraphernalia and honey oil were found within the children’s reach on the property. The children were detained. On November 4, 2014, a joint jurisdictional and dispositional hearing was held, and parents submitted on the reports. Both parents were in custody. Mother was ordered into reunification services.
On April 21, 2015, Father’s services were terminated for lack of compliance and because he would be serving a five-year state prison sentence. Mother was also in custody and her services were terminated for lack of compliance and inability to have the children returned to her by the 12-month review. Visitation for parents was set at one time per month if allowed by their respective penal institutions. Over mother’s objection, visitation was terminated on July 23, 2015, due to the distance between the parents’ custodial settings and the children. Mother was at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla and Father was at San Quentin State Prison.
Section 366.26 Hearings
*2 The Agency filed a report recommending termination of parental rights and an adoption report finding both children adoptable on July 30, 2015. At the hearing held on August 20, 2016, adoptions specialist Janice Milthaler testified in favor of the children’s adoptability. Parents offered no evidence. The court found both children adoptable, but did not terminate parental rights at that time because no adoptive families had been as yet identified.
The Agency filed a second report recommending termination of parental rights and an adoption report finding both children adoptable. Adoptive families for each child had been identified. At a hearing on February 9, 2016, the court found the exception to adoption for sibling bond preservation did not apply and terminated parental rights.
The minors’ possible Wailaki Native American ancestry was first noted by the Agency in the initial petition.2 Based on Mother’s report, the detention summary stated Father had Native American heritage with a Wailaki tribe, and Mother had no Indian ancestry. At the detention hearing, Father’s attorney informed the court that Father had provided to the social worker a completed ICWA-020 form indicating he had both Wailaki and Pomo heritage. Mother’s attorney stated she had no Native American ancestry. However, on June 27, 2014, Mother completed an ICWA “Parent History Chart” indicating she was the minors’ biological parent, born in New Mexico, and had potential Mohawk ancestry through her deceased grandmother, Kristen A., who was born on June 19, possibly in 1957. She provided a phone number and address for her grandfather, who was still alive. She also claimed Mohawk ancestry through her great-grandfather, Joseph E. of McNabb Ranch, who also was alive.
On June 27, 2014, Father signed an ICWA-020 form (“Parental Notification of Indian Status”), averring under penalty of perjury he is or may be a member of, or eligible for membership in, the Wailaki and Pomo tribes. The ICWA-020 signed by father was filed with the court.3 On June 30, 2014, Father completed an ICWA “Parent History Chart” indicating he was the biological father of the minors, born in Covelo, and was enrolled as a child in the Round Valley tribe. He claimed Indian ancestry through his father, “Steve,” whom he had never met but believed was possibly a member of the Covelo tribe. He listed the name, date of birth, address and phone number for his adoptive mother, who had no known tribal affiliation, and who was listed as one of the persons giving information.
In the jurisdictional report filed July 14, 2014, the Agency noted Mother’s possible Wailaki and Mohawk ancestry and Father’s possible Native American ancestry with the Round Valley band of Pomo Indians, and indicated it had noticed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Secretary of the Interior, and the Mohawk, Wailaki, and Round Valley tribes.
On July 24, 2014, the Agency mailed ICWA-0304 notices of the dispositional hearing to be held on August 19, 2014 to (1) the Sacramento Area Director of the BIA, (2) the Secretary of the Interior in Washington, D.C., (3) Kenneth Wright, President of the Round Valley Tribe (Pomo Indians) in Covelo, California; (4) Donald Arnold, Chairperson of the Scotts Valley Rancheria, in Lakeport, California (Pomo Indians), (5) Ronald Kirk, Chairman of the Grindstone Rancheria in Elk Creek, California; and (6) Paul O. Thompson, Ronald W. LaFrance, Jr., and Randy Hart, Chiefs of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in Akwesasne, New York. As of August 18, 2014, signed receipts for certified mail had been returned from all notified parties except the Secretary of the Interior. As of the disposition hearing on August 19, 2014, only the Pomo Indians of the Scotts Valley band had returned a determinative response to the ICWA notice. They reported they would not intervene in the dependency proceedings; neither Mother, Father, nor the minors were enrolled members of the tribe and “[e]nrollment is a prerequisite for membership under Scotts Valley’s Tribal law and custom.”
*3 On September 11, 2014, the Agency mailed ICWA-030 notices of the ICWA review hearing to be held on September 24, 2014, to the Sacramento Area Director of the BIA, the Secretary of the Interior, Kenneth Wright of the Round Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Ronald Kirk of the Grindstone Rancheria, and the Chiefs of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, at the addresses noted above. On September 2, 2014, the Agency received a letter from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe indicating the tribal clerk’s office had researched the names of the biological parents and other listed relatives and had been “unable to find any link of tribal affiliation”; therefore, the minors were not enrolled or eligible for enrollment with the tribe and no further notices to the tribe were required.
On October 7, 2014, the court found 60 days had elapsed from the time notice had been given to the Wailaki and Round Valley Pomo and no determinative response from them had been received. Since the Mohawk tribe and Scotts Valley band of Pomo Indians had responded the minors were not eligible for membership in those tribes, ICWA did not apply to the case unless further evidence of the applicability of ICWA was later received. At both section 366.26 hearings, the court found ICWA did not apply.
I. ICWA Notice
It is undisputed that no Pomo Indian Tribes or Bands other than the Round Valley and Scotts Valley Bands were noticed. Parents argue the order terminating parental rights must be reversed because the trial court and the Agency did not comply with ICWA and state law by sending notices to all of the tribes or bands of Pomo Indians, as required by In re J.T. (2007) 154 Cal.App.4th 986, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 320 (J.T.).5 The Agency relies on In re Edward H. (2002) 100 Cal.App.4th 1, 122 Cal.Rptr.2d 242 (Edward H.), which held that “notice to some but not all possible tribes in which a dependent child may be eligible for membership does not violate the ICWA provided the Bureau of Indian Affairs also receives notice....” (Edward H., at p. 3, 122 Cal.Rptr.2d 242.)
“Congress enacted ICWA in 1978 ‘to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families....’ (25 U.S.C. § 1902.)” (In re Damian C. (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 192, 196, 100 Cal.Rptr.3d 110.) “ICWA reflects a congressional determination that it is in the best interests of Indian children to retain tribal ties and cultural heritage and in the interest of the tribe to preserve its future generations.” (In re Kadence P. (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 1376, 1385, 194 Cal.Rptr.3d 679 (Kadence P.).) Pursuant to title 25 United States Code section 1912(a), “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.” Welfare and Institutions Code section 224.2, subdivision (a)(1) similarly provides that if the court, a social worker, or a probation officer knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved, notice to the tribe “shall be sent by registered or certified mail with return receipt requested.” “ ‘Notice is a key component of the congressional goal to protect and preserve Indian tribes and Indian families. Notice ensures the tribe will be afforded the opportunity to assert its rights under [ICWA] irrespective of the position of the parents, Indian custodian or state agencies.’ ” (In re Alice M. (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1189, 1195, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 863 (Alice M.).)
*4 California has the second largest Indian population in the country. (In re Abbigail A. (2016) 1 Cal.5th 83, 91, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879 (Abbigail A.), citing U.S. Dept. of the Interior, BIA, 2013 American Indian Population and Labor Force Report (Jan. 16, 2014) p. 10 [281,374 Native Americans].) According to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), this includes 22 bands and rancherias affiliated with the Pomo tribe.6 Nevertheless, in 2006, due to “persistent noncompliance with ICWA” (Abbigail A., at p. 91, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879), legislation was enacted to “incorporate[ ] ICWA’s requirements into California statutory law” (In re W.B. (2012) 55 Cal.4th 30, 52, 144 Cal.Rptr.3d 843, 281 P.3d 906; see §§ 224–224.6). These provisions “affirm ICWA’s purposes [citation] and mandate compliance with ICWA.” (Isaiah W., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 9, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.)
In Edward H., supra, 100 Cal.App.4th 1, 122 Cal.Rptr.2d 242, after the father indicated he had reason to believe he belonged to a tribe out of Arkansas, inquiry was made and notice was sent to two Choctaw tribes and the BIA. (Id. at p. 4, 122 Cal.Rptr.2d 242.) Neither the tribes nor the BIA declared the children to be Indian children under ICWA, and at the section 366.26 hearing the trial court found ICWA did not apply. On appeal from the termination of his parental rights, father argued a third Choctaw tribe should have been notified. As noted, the Edward H. court held notice to the BIA was sufficient. At the time, former California Rules of Court,7 rule 1439(f)(3) required notice to “all tribes of which the child may be a member or eligible for membership.” However, the court declined to follow the rule because it did not “track the federal statutory language on this issue.” (Edward H., at p. 4, 122 Cal.Rptr.2d 242.) Federal law required notice to the Indian’s child’s tribe (25 U.S.C. § 1912(a)) and authorized service of notice upon the Secretary of the Interior “ ‘[i]f the identity or location of ... the tribe cannot be determined....’ ” (Edward H., at p. 5, 122 Cal.Rptr.2d 242, italics added.) “ ‘Under the statutory scheme, the burden of identifying and providing notice to the proper tribe in these circumstances shifts from the state court to the Secretary, who presumably has resources and skill with which to ferret out the necessary information.’ ” (Ibid.) Since, in the court’s view, the identity of the actual Choctaw tribe in which the children might be eligible for membership was unknown, the BIA as well as an Indian tribe was authorized to “conclusively determine whether a child is an Indian.” (Ibid.)
Edward H. was decided well before the enactment of the 2006 legislation that governs this case, and the court in J.T. declined to follow Edward H. “[i]n light of this superseding legislation.” (J.T., supra, 154 Cal.App.4th at p. 993, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 320; see Alice M., supra, 161 Cal.App.4th at p. 1202, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 863 [following J.T.].) In J.T., the mother identified possible Sioux and Cherokee ancestry. Authorized federal and California lists identified three Cherokee tribes and 16 Sioux tribes. (J.T., at p. 992, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 320.) The Bureau of Children and Family Services argued that service of the notices on the BIA was sufficient because “the identity or location of ... the tribe cannot be determined....” (25 U.S.C. § 1912(a).) Looking to the purpose and notice requirements of the then recently enacted statutes codifying ICWA as a feature of state law under Senate Bill No. 678 (2005-2006 Reg. Sess., ch. 838), and to preexisting rules of court and court opinions, the J.T. court concluded that notice must be sent to all of the Sioux tribes. The J.T. court reasoned that section 224.2 had incorporated formerrule 1439’s requirement of notice to all tribes of which the minor may be a member or eligible for membership. Section 224, subdivision (d) had adopted the federal requirement that heightened state law standards shall prevail over more lenient ICWA requirements. And sections 224, subdivision (a) and 224.3 subdivision (a) imposed an affirmative and continuing duty to inquire about a minor’s potential Indian ancestry, required notice if the court knows or has reason to know the child is or may be an Indian child, and mandated varied biographical data be included on the notice forms. (J.T., at p. 993, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 320.)
*5 In Alice M., supra, 161 Cal.App.4th 1189, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 863, the mother answered “American Indian, Navajo-Apache” in response to a question on the “Parental Notification of Indian Status” form asking if the minor child “ ‘is or may be a member of, or eligible for membership in, a federally recognized Indian tribe.’ ” (Id. at p. 1194, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 863.) Notices were sent to all federally recognized Navajo and Apache tribes, but the Court of Appeal determined the notices did not meet the requirements of federal or state law. (Id. at pp. 1197–1201, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 863.)
The court also held that notice to the BIA was not an adequate substitute for inadequate notice to the tribes. “Section 224.2, subdivision (a)(3), effective January 1, 2007, requires that notice ‘be sent to all tribes of which the child may be a member or eligible for membership, until the court makes a determination as to which tribe is the child’s tribe....’ In a case such as this, the language of subdivision (a)(3) must be construed as requiring notice to all federally recognized tribes within the general umbrella identified by the child’s parents or relatives. Based on the information provided by appellant, all recognized Apache tribes are ‘tribes of which [Alice] may be a member,’ even if the family’s precise tribal affiliation, if any, has not been determined. [¶] As the First District Court of Appeal concluded in In re J.T.[, supra, 154 Cal.App.4th 986, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 320], the statutory adoption of the higher standard in section 224.2 prevails ‘over more lenient ICWA requirements’ and undermines the rationale of Edward H. The application of the broader ‘all tribes’ requirement, which may be viewed as more protective of the tribes than the ICWA requirement, is supported by statute. Subdivision (d) of section 224 states that ‘[i]n any case in which this code or other applicable state or federal law provides a higher standard of protection to the rights of ... the Indian child’s tribe, than the rights provided under [ICWA], the court shall apply the higher standard.’ We therefore conclude that notice to the BIA is not an adequate substitute, in this case, for notice to all federally recognized Apache tribes.” (Alice M., supra, 161 Cal.App.4th at p. 1202, 74 Cal.Rptr.3d 863.)
The Agency argues that our Supreme Court’s opinion in Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th 83, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879 has breathed new life into Edward H., effectively overruling J.T. We disagree. Abbigail A. involved the validity of former rule 5.482(c). At that time, the rule provided: “ ‘If after notice has been provided as required by federal and state law a tribe responds indicating that the child is eligible for membership if certain steps are followed, the court must proceed as if the child is an Indian child and direct the appropriate individual or agency to provide active efforts ... to secure tribal membership for the child.’ ” (Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th at pp. 91–92, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879, first italics added, second italics in original.) In Abbigail A., the children’s biological and presumed father informed the court “he believed he had Cherokee ancestry. To obtain the information necessary to determine whether Abbigail and Justin were Indian children to whom ICWA applied, the court ordered the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to notify the relevant tribes pursuant to federal and state law. (See 25 U.S.C. § 1912(a); Welf. & Inst. Code, § 224.2, subd. (a).)” (Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th at pp. 88–89, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879, italics added.)8 One of these tribes, the Cherokee Nation, informed DHHS the children were eligible for enrollment and affiliation with the Cherokee Nation by virtue of their direct lineage to father’s great-grandmother, an enrolled member. (1 Cal.5th at p. 89, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.) However, the children were not “Indian children” under federal law (25 U.S.C. § 1903(4)) because neither biological parent was a member. (Abbigail A., at p. 89, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.) The Cherokee nation recommended “ ‘applying all the protections of ICWA to this matter from the beginning of the case ... [to] prevent future delays ... if or when the parents or child/children become enrolled members.’ ” (Ibid.)
*6 The father informed the trial court he intended to apply for membership. Over the DHSS’s objection, the trial court stated it would proceed as if the children were Indian children to whom ICWA applied, and directed the DHHS and counsel to make reasonable efforts to secure tribal membership for the children. The court held jurisdictional and dispositional hearings that complied with both state and federal law, assumed jurisdiction, and placed the children with their maternal grandmother, which placement also complied with ICWA. (25 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(i).) (Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 90, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.) DHHS’s appeal challenged the validity of former rule 5.482(c) and rule 5.484(c)(2), and argued the court erred by proceeding as if ICWA applied and directing the agency to make efforts to secure tribal membership for the children. DHSS did not challenge the court’s jurisdictional or dispositional orders. (Ibid.)
The Supreme Court concluded rule 5.482(c) was invalid as a matter of state law because “ ‘[t]he primary objective of Senate Bill No. 678,’ which incorporated ICWA’s requirements and definitional provisions into California statutory law, ‘was to increase compliance with ICWA.’ [Citations.] Nothing in the bill’s language or history demonstrates the Legislature intended to apply ICWA’s requirements to, or require membership applications be made on behalf of, children who are not Indian children as defined in ICWA. Instead, the Legislature left cases not involving Indian children subject to the statutes generally applicable in dependency proceedings. Rule 5.482(c) is inconsistent with those statutes.” (Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th at pp. 92–93, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.)
One of several arguments rejected by the court was father’s argument that section 224, subdivision (d)’s “higher standard of protection” afforded by section 224, subdivision (d) validated rule 5.482(c). The court observed section 224, “like the related federal statutes, speaks only to the rights of persons and tribes connected with ‘an Indian child.’ (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 224, subd. (d), italics added.) Section 224 cannot reasonably be understood to authorize the adoption of, or require deference to, a rule purporting to apply ICWA’s requirements in cases involving children who are not Indian children. By analogy, another court has explained that ‘ICWA’s “minimum federal standards” language refers to “the removal of Indian children,” ...; it does not refer to the definition of an “Indian child.” [Citations.] ... [N]othing in ICWA suggests that the definition of “Indian child” ... is a “minimum federal standard.” ’ ” (Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 93, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.)
By contrast, the court found rule 5.484(c)(2)9 was valid because it did not direct the court to act “ ‘as if’ a child were an Indian child,” but rather spoke “only to the court’s obligations in a case involving an ‘Indian child’ as defined by law. Read in this manner, according to its plain language, the rule is not inconsistent with any state statute implementing ICWA.” (Abbigail A., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 96, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.) The court also clarified that the trial court was free to “direct that steps be taken to pursue tribal membership for a child who, while not a member of a tribe, is already an Indian child to whom ICWA applies because he or she is both eligible for membership and also the biological child of a member.” (Id. at pp. 96–97, 204 Cal.Rptr.3d 760, 375 P.3d 879.)
*7 Because notice had already been given to the Cherokee Nation in accordance with federal and state law, questions concerning what kind of information triggers a duty of inquiry and notice, or to whom notice must be given, or whether the notice given was proper or sufficient, were not before the court in Abbigail A. “[C]ases are not authority for propositions not considered.” (People v. Alvarez (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1161, 1176, 119 Cal.Rptr.2d 903, 46 P.3d 372.)
Furthermore, this case, unlike Abbigail A., does not involve the validity of a rule of court under state law. At issue here is one of the very statutes enacted to ensure compliance with ICWA, namely, section 224.2, which expressly provides that whenever “the court, a social worker, or probation officer knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved, any notice sent in an Indian child custody proceeding under this code shall be sent to ... [¶] ... [¶] (c) ... all tribes of which the child may be a member or eligible for membership, until the court makes a determination as to which tribe is the child’s tribe[,] ... after which notice need only be sent to the tribe determined to be the Indian child’s tribe.” (§ 224.2, subd. (a)(3), italics added.) Section 224.2 is in line with the BIA’s recently revised Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings, which supersede and replace the guidelines published at 44 Federal Register 67584 (Nov. 26, 1979). (See U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Guidelines for State Courts and Agencies in Indian Child Custody Proceedings, 80 Fed.Reg. 10146 (Feb. 25, 2015) (BIA Guidelines).)10,11
*8 Finally, to extend the rationale of Abbigail A. to ICWA’s notice requirements makes no sense. The purpose of ICWA’s notice requirements is to identify children who are Indian children, and, if a child is identified as an Indian child, give the tribe or tribes in which the child is a member or may be eligible for membership advance notice of pending dependency proceedings so they may intervene in the proceedings or assert jurisdiction over the child as the tribe or tribes deem fit. (See Isaiah W., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 5, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444 [“[ICWA’s] notice requirement, which is also codified in California law [§ 224.2], enables a tribe to determine whether the child is an Indian child and, if so, whether to intervene in or exercise jurisdiction over the proceeding.”].) Nothing in Abbigail A. suggests that section 224.2 gives tribes “heightened protections” not otherwise afforded by federal law, that section 224.2 is inconsistent with federal law, or that J.T. has been overruled sub silentio.
This point is underscored by Isaiah W., supra, 1 Cal.5th 1, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444, decided one week before Abbigail A., which does discuss notice issues. Isaiah was removed from his parents at birth and placed in foster care. (1 Cal.5th at p. 5, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.) Although the mother indicated she may have Indian ancestry (id. at p. 6, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444), and the Department developed information indicating Isaiah’s grandfather may have had Blackfoot ancestry and his great-great-grandmother may have been a member of the Cherokee tribe, the court concluded the possibility Isaiah was an Indian child was “too attenuated and remote” to warrant notice to tribes or the BIA. (Ibid.)
The mother did not appeal from the dispositional order or object to or appeal from the court’s ICWA finding. (Isaiah W., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 6, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.) A year later, the court terminated the mother’s parental rights and again ruled it had no reason to know that Isaiah was an Indian child. The mother appealed the court’s termination of her parental rights, arguing the trial court had reason to know Isaiah was an Indian child but failed to comply with ICWA’s notice requirements. (Id. at p. 7, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.) The Court of Appeal found mother was foreclosed from raising that issue on appeal from the order terminating her parental rights because she had failed to timely appeal from the court’s ICWA finding and dispositional order. (1 Cal.5th at p. 7, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.) The Supreme Court reversed, holding that “[b]ecause ICWA imposes on the juvenile court a continuing duty to inquire whether the child is an Indian child, ... the parent may challenge a finding of ICWA’s inapplicability in an appeal from the subsequent order, even if she did not raise such a challenge in an appeal from the initial order.” (1 Cal.5th at p. 6, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.)
Isaiah W.’s holding rests on the centrality of ICWA’s notice requirements. ICWA establishes “ ‘minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture....’ (25 U.S.C. § 1902.)” (Isaiah W., supra, 1 Cal.5th at p. 8, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444.) These minimum standards “include the requirement of notice to Indian tribes in any involuntary proceeding in state court to place a child in foster care or to terminate parental rights ‘where the court knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved.’ (25 U.S.C. § 1912(a).) ... [¶] ICWA’s notice requirements serve two purposes. First, they facilitate a determination of whether the child is an Indian child under ICWA. (25 U.S.C. § 1903(4) [defining Indian child as ‘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’].) ... [¶] Second, ICWA notice ensures that an Indian tribe is aware of its right to intervene in or, where appropriate, exercise jurisdiction over a child custody proceeding involving an Indian child.” (Isaiah W., at p. 8, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444, italics added.)
*9 “[A] juvenile court has an affirmative and continuing duty in all dependency proceedings to inquire into a child’s Indian status. (§ 224.3 [, subd. ](a).) If a court determines it has reason to know a child is an Indian child, the court must notify the BIA and any relevant tribe so that the tribe may determine the child’s status and decide whether to intervene. (§ 224.2.) If adequate and proper notice has been given, and if neither the BIA nor any tribe provides a determinative response within 60 days, then the court may determine that ICWA does not apply to the proceedings. (§ 224.3[, subd. ] (e)(3).) At that point, the court is relieved of its duties of inquiry and notice (§ 224.2, subd. (b)), unless the BIA or a tribe subsequently confirms that the child is an Indian child (§ 224.3[, subd. ](e)(3)).... [¶] ... Notice must be provided ‘where the court knows or has reason to know that an Indian child is involved’ (25 U.S.C. § 1912(a)), and section 224.3, subdivision (b) sets forth a nonexhaustive list of ‘circumstances that may provide reason to know the child is an Indian child.’ Importantly, ‘[t]he relevant question is not whether the evidence ... supports a finding that the minor[ ] [is an] Indian child[ ]; it is whether the evidence triggers the notice requirement of ICWA so that the tribes themselves may make that determination.’ [Citation.] After proper notice has been given, if the tribes respond that the minor is not a member or not eligible for membership, or if neither the BIA nor any tribe provides a determinative response within 60 days, then the court may find that ICWA does not apply to the proceedings. At that point, the court is relieved of its duties of inquiry and notice unless the BIA or a tribe subsequently confirms that the child is an Indian child. ‘ “To maintain stability in placements of children in juvenile proceedings, it is preferable to err on the side of giving notice and examining thoroughly whether the juvenile is an Indian child.” ’ ” (Isaiah W., at pp. 14–15, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444, citing In re D.C. (2015) 243 Cal.App.4th 41, 63, 196 Cal.Rptr.3d 283.) Isaiah W.’s strict compliance with ICWA’s notice requirement enforces our view Abbigail A. did not intend to call J.T.’s holding into question.
In this case, the information provided by parents concerning the minors’ potential Indian ancestry was sufficient to trigger a duty of inquiry and notice under both state and federal law. (See Kadence P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1386–1388, 194 Cal.Rptr.3d 679 and cases cited therein.) No one argues otherwise, and the trial court found it sufficient to require notice to two of 22 Pomo-affiliated tribes. In light of the authorities examined above, the trial court erred in failing to require notice to the remaining Pomo-affiliated tribes.
When the record shows noncompliance with ICWA’s notice requirements, the remedy is a limited remand to the juvenile court with directions to direct the Agency to comply with the notice provisions of ICWA. Upon remand the juvenile court shall direct the Agency to send ICWA notice to all unnoticed Pomo-affiliated tribes in accordance with ICWA and California law. The Agency shall thereafter notify the court of its actions and file certified mail, return receipts for any ICWA notices that were sent, together with any responses received. The court shall then determine whether the ICWA inquiry and notice requirements have been satisfied and whether O.C. and M.C. are Indian children. If the court finds they are Indian children, the court shall conduct a new permanency planning hearing (§ 366.26), as well as all further proceedings, in compliance with ICWA and related California law. If, after proper notice, the court finds that O.C. and M.C. are not Indian children, the order terminating parental rights and selecting adoption as the permanent plan shall be reinstated.
*13 The order of February 9, 2016 is reversed. The case is remanded to the juvenile court with directions to order the Agency to complete notice to the Pomo tribes in accordance with ICWA. If, after proper notice, the court finds that O.C. and M.C. are Indian children, the court shall proceed in conformity with ICWA. If, after proper notice, the court finds that O.C. and M.C. are not Indian children, the order terminating parental rights and selecting adoption as the permanent plan shall be reinstated.
Pursuant to California Rules of Court, rules 8.1105(b) and 8.1110, this opinion is certified for publication with the exception of parts II and III of the Discussion section.
Unless otherwise indicated, all statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.
The petition included an ICWA-010(A) form on which Mother indicated the children may have Indian ancestry and are or may be members of or eligible for membership in a Wailaki tribe.
There is no record evidence mother signed an ICWA-020 or filed one with the court.
These ICWA notices included the information that had been listed on both parents’ history charts. The Wailaki Indians of California are members of the Grindstone Rancheria (http://www.narf.org/nill/tribes/grindstone_rancheria.html as of Nov. 22, 2016).
Even if Mother does not have Indian ancestry, she has standing to raise ICWA compliance issues. (In re B.R. (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 773, 779, 97 Cal.Rptr.3d 890.) In general, ICWA notice issues may be raised for the first time on appeal even if they were not raised below. (J.T., supra, 154 Cal.App.4th at p. 991, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 320; In re Nikki R. (2003) 106 Cal.App.4th 844, 849, 131 Cal.Rptr.2d 256; In re Isaiah W. (2016) 1 Cal.5th 1, 10, 203 Cal.Rptr.3d 633, 373 P.3d 444 (Isaiah W.).
See the CDSS’s website at http://www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/pdf/cdsstribes.pdf, pp. 34–36, as of November 22, 2016.
All references to rules are to the California Rules of Court.
According to the California Department of Social Services’ Childsworld website, there are three tribes with Cherokee affiliation (www.childsworld.ca.gov/res/pdf/cdsstribes.pdf, p. 5, as of Nov. 22, 2016).
Rule 5.484(c)(2) provides: “In addition to any other required findings to place an Indian child with someone other than a parent or Indian custodian, or to terminate parental rights, the court must find that active efforts have been made ... to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family, and must find that these efforts were unsuccessful. [¶] ... [¶] (2) Efforts to provide services must include pursuit of any steps necessary to secure tribal membership for a child if the child is eligible for membership in a given tribe, as well as attempts to use the available resources of extended family members, the tribe, tribal and other Indian social service agencies, and individual Indian caregivers.”
For example, BIA Guideline section A.3 [When does ICWA Apply?] states: “(c) Agencies and State courts, in every child custody proceeding, must ask whether the child is or could be an Indian child and conduct an investigation into whether the child is an Indian child.... [¶] (d) If there is any reason to believe the child is an Indian child, the agency and State court must treat the child as an Indian child, unless and until it is determined that the child is not a member or is not eligible for membership in an Indian tribe.” (80 Fed. Reg. 10152.)
The BIA’s guidelines are instructive but not binding on state courts. (Kadence P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1387, fn. 10, 194 Cal.Rptr.3d 679; see also National Council for Adoption v. Jewell (E.D.Va. 2015) 156 F.Supp.3d 727, 736 [“[t]he 2015 Guidelines are non-binding interpretive rules not subject to APA notice-and-comment procedures.”].)
See footnote *, ante.