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In Re A.H. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. T.T

December 28, 2011

IN RE A.H. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. BUTTE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
T.T., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. Nos. J35240 & J35241)

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

In re A.H.

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

T.T., mother of minors I.H. and A.H., appeals from juvenile court findings and orders entered at a combined jurisdiction and disposition hearing. (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 §§ 300, subd. (f), 361.5, subd. (b), 395.) Mother contends, and the Butte County Department of Social Services (DSS) concedes, that DSS and the juvenile court failed to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.). We agree and shall remand for further proceedings pursuant to the ICWA.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

DSS filed section 300 petitions under subdivisions (b), (d) and (j), on behalf of I.H. (then seven years old) and his half sibling, A.H. (then age four), based, inter alia, on continuous sexual abuse perpetrated by an older half sibling.

At the initial detention hearing, mother stated that she had Native American ancestry through both parents, specifically Cherokee. She also stated that her grandmother, Reba Levrette, was an enrolled member and was born and raised in Oklahoma City. She had researched her family's Indian ancestry and provided the information to DSS.

DSS sent ICWA-030 notices to the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The information in the notice included information about mother, her parents, and her grandparents, but nowhere listed the name "Reba Levrette" as mother's grandmother. Instead only "Reba McAnally" was listed.

In the disposition report, DSS reported that the Cherokee Nation concluded that it appeared the children were eligible for enrollment, but the tribe needed further information about mother's family. DSS was intending to gather additional information from mother to provide to the tribe. The court found the ICWA applied to the case, and continued the disposition hearing to obtain an Indian expert.

The following month, the Cherokee Nation wrote a letter to DSS requesting additional information, including the mother's grandparents' and great-grandparents' complete names and dates of birth. A month later, the Cherokee Nation wrote a second letter to DSS requesting the same additional information. Nothing in the record indicates the requested information was provided by DSS or the juvenile court prior to the disposition hearing.

The Eastern Band responded that, based on the information provided, the children were not enrolled or eligible for enrollment. The United Keetoowah responded that, based on the information provided, the children were not descendants of anyone on the United Keetoowah roll.

The disposition hearing was held on July 29, 2010. The juvenile court entered disposition orders, including declaring the children dependent children of the court and ordering reunification ...


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