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Name: In re Miguel S.
Case #: G052683
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/17/2016
Summary

Reversal was required where insufficient evidence showed that the Agency made active efforts to secure tribal enrollment for the minors. During the juvenile dependency proceeding, the Agency received confirmation of the minors’ eligibility for enrollment in two different Chippewa tribes. The Agency stated that in order to move forward with enrollment for the minors, mother must enroll in the same tribe. No further action occurred, and in its report prepared for the 366.26 hearing, the Agency stated that the minors might be Indian children, but proposed that the court find that ICWA did not apply. The juvenile court terminated parental rights, finding that ICWA did not apply. On appeal, the fathers of the minors argued that insufficient evidence supported the juvenile court’s finding that ICWA did not apply, and that the Agency failed to comply with its obligations under ICWA. The appellate court agreed and reversed the parental rights termination for the limited purpose of allowing the Agency to make active efforts necessary to secure tribal membership for the minors. Nothing in the record explains whether the Agency’s understanding of the prerequisites to the minors’ enrollment was based on information from the tribes or from other sources, but in either event there was no further effort to provide notice to the tribes or to secure the minors’ enrollment. The juvenile court was required to direct the Agency to make active efforts to obtain tribal membership for the minors before parental rights were terminated. Insufficient evidence shows that active efforts were made or that ICWA did not otherwise apply. Therefore, remand was required with directions to the Agency to make the active efforts necessary to secure tribal membership for the minors.