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In re E.W.

January 21, 2009

IN RE E.W. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
RIVERSIDE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SOCIAL SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
V.P., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. Gary Vincent, Temporary Judge. (Pursuant to Cal. Const., art. VI, § 21.) Affirmed. (Super. Ct. No. RIJ113520).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ramirez, P.J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Appellant V.P. (Mother) is the mother of E.W. and P.W. Mother appeals from the juvenile court's order terminating her parental rights at a hearing held under Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 held on May 13, 2008.*fn1 Mother makes a three-fold challenge under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA): 1) DPSS did not provide proper notice to the Indian tribes; 2) DPSS did not receive responses from all of the noticed tribes or from the BIA; and 3) the juvenile court did not make a finding that ICWA did not apply. As discussed below, we find that any error was not prejudicial and so affirm the court's orders.

I. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURE

On December 14, 2006, two-year-old E. and newborn P. were removed from their parents' custody after both Mother and P. tested positive for marijuana and amphetamines in the hospital after P.'s birth. During a December 13, 2006, interview with the social worker, Mother denied having any Native American heritage. In a December 14, 2006, interview with the social worker, the children's father (Father) said that his family had Choctaw Indian ancestry from Arkansas or Oklahoma but that he was not registered with the tribe.

The section 300 juvenile dependency petition was filed on December 18, 2006, and alleged that Mother and Father had failed to protect the children because of their drug abuse and Mother's lack of prenatal care for P. and that Mother had previously had another child removed from her care. (§ 300, subd. (b).) The children were placed in a foster home.

At the detention hearing held on December 19, 2006, the juvenile court detained the children and ordered reunification services for the parents, along with supervised visitation. On that date both parents completed a JV-130 form. Mother denied having any Native American heritage, but Father checked the box indicating he might have such ancestry, although he did not specify a particular tribe. The juvenile court determined that ICWA might apply and ordered DPSS to give notice to the appropriate tribe and to the BIA.

On December 28, 2006, Father told the social worker that his uncle was a registered member of the Choctaw tribe in Arkansas or Oklahoma and that Father was trying to get the paperwork so he could register as well.

On January 3, 2007, DPSS sent the ICWA notice, with the jurisdiction and disposition report attached, to the three identified Choctaw Indian tribes and to the BIA. The notices referred to E., but not to P. The notices to the three Choctaw tribes were addressed generally to each tribe and were not directed to the tribal chair or designated agent for service.

At the jurisdiction and disposition hearing held on January 11, 2007, the juvenile court sustained the allegations and removed the children from their parents' custody. The court found that DPSS had provided ICWA notice and determined that ICWA might apply to this case.

In the status review report filed July 26, 2007, DPSS reported that ICWA did not apply to this dependency. This is because responses had been received from two of the three Choctaw Indian tribes stating that E. was not eligible for membership.

In the section 366.26 report filed on February 1, 2008, DPSS reported that ICWA did not apply. DPSS reported the same conclusion in the status review report filed on April 16, 2008. At the section 366.26 hearing finally held on May 13, 2008, the juvenile court found the ...


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