In re M.M.
Filed 2/24/06 In re M.M. CA3
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
California Rules of Court, rule 977(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 977(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 977.
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT
In re M.M. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES,
Plaintiff and Respondent,
Defendant and Appellant.
(Super. Ct. Nos. JD221769, JD221770, JD221771, JD221772)
Donnell M., father of M.M., now age 2; E.M., now age 6; and D.M., now age 8, appeals from the judgment of disposition. (Welf. & Inst. Code, Â§Â§ 358, 361, 395.) Appellant contends the social worker did not fully comply with the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). (25 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.) We affirm.
The Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) removed the minors from parental custody in January 2005 because of neglect and ongoing domestic violence in the home. The court ordered the minors detained. At a hearing in February 2005 appellant claimed Cherokee heritage and the court ordered DHHS to provide notice to the Cherokee tribes pursuant to the ICWA.
The paralegal responsible for sending such notices filed a declaration in April 2005 stating she had spoken with appellant by telephone in late February 2005, but he had little family history to provide. Appellant stated he and his mother were not tribal members and provided the names of his mother and his maternal grandmother, but had no date of birth for his mother and no date or place of birth for his grandmother. Appellant told the paralegal he would contact his mother and get back to the paralegal that afternoon. Appellant did not contact the paralegal, and her three subsequent efforts to contact him were fruitless. The paralegal sent the notice forms containing the information she did have to the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes. In subsequent declarations, the paralegal informed the court that each of the three tribes had responded that the minors were not members of or eligible for membership in the tribes.
At the jurisdiction/disposition hearing held in June 2005 the court found the paralegal had made adequate inquiry into appellant's family history, that the minors were not described by the ICWA, and that no further notice to the tribes was required unless the facts upon which the notices were based changed. Appellant was not present at the hearing.
Appellant claims the ICWA notice provisions were not satisfied because the paralegal's inquiry was inadequate. He contends the paralegal should have asked for the paternal grandmother's birth date or her telephone number so the paralegal could contact her directly for more information.
The ICWA protects the interests of Indian children and promotes the stability and security of Indian tribes by establishing minimum standards for, and permitting tribal participation in, dependency actions. (25 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 1901, 1902, 1903(1), 1911(c), 1912.) The juvenile court and DHHS have an affirmative duty to inquire at the outset of the proceedings whether a child who is subject to the proceedings is, or may be, an Indian child. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 1439(d).) If, after the petition is filed, the court â€