In re T.W.

The Mendocino County Department of Social Services filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 3001 petition concerning three minors, alleging their mother was unable to care for them, and that Father’s whereabouts were unknown. Mother and Minors were enrolled members of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians. The case was governed by the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. 1901). The Department located Father in a Florida jail. He requested services. Father was released and submitted evidence that, while incarcerated, Father had completed substance abuse classes and a dog training program. The court sustained an allegation that Father “has a pattern of criminal behaviors that includes a drug-related arrest and conviction in 2014 that severely impairs his ability to care for” his children. He had not seen Minors in more than five years nor spoken to them in two years. At a six-month hearing, Father argued reasonable services were not provided, citing a delay in creating Father’s case plan and failure to provide drug testing or regular phone visitation. The court found reasonable services had been provided; that Father had not complied; and the Department made active efforts to prevent the Indian family's breakup. The court ordered continued services with weekly telephone visits. The court of appeals reversed, finding that, although the likelihood of reunification may be low, the Department was obliged to provide services, regardless of Father’s out-of-state location View "In re T.W." on Justia Law