The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of L.H., a Child, and Concerning L.H., Respondent-Appellant.
County District Court No. 15JV650 Honorable Ann Gail
G. Wakeman, County Attorney, Sarah Oviatt, Assistant County
Attorney, Golden, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellee
L. Locke, Guardian Ad Litem Levi Guthrie, Colorado Springs,
Colorado, for Respondent-Appellant
C.J., Román, and Welling, JJ.
1 In this dependency and neglect proceeding, L.H. (mother)
appeals the judgment terminating the parent-child legal
relationship with her child, L.H. Based on our review of the
record, we are unable to determine whether the Jefferson
County Department of Human Services, Division of Children,
Youth and Families (Department) complied with the Indian
Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. §§
1901-1963 (2012); see also § 19-1-126, C.R.S.
2017. Because the record does not show that the Department
sent notice to tribes historically affiliated with the tribe
mother asserted her biological brother belonged to, we remand
the case to the trial court for the limited purpose of
ensuring that ICWA's notice requirements are satisfied.
2 Congress enacted ICWA to address "rising concern"
over the consequences of "child welfare practices that
resulted in the separation of large numbers of Indian
children from their families and tribes through adoption or
foster care placement, usually in non-Indian homes."
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield,
490 U.S. 30, 32 (1989). ICWA's provisions protect and
preserve Indian tribes and their resources and protect Indian
children who are members of or are eligible for membership in
an Indian tribe. 25 U.S.C. § 1901(2), (3).
3 ICWA recognizes that Indian tribes have a separate interest
in Indian children that is equivalent to, but distinct from,
parental interests. B.H. v. People in Interest of
X.H., 138 P.3d 299, 303 (Colo. 2006); see also
Holyfield, 490 U.S. at 52. Accordingly, in a proceeding
in which ICWA may apply, tribes must have a meaningful
opportunity to participate in determining whether the child
is an Indian child and to be heard on the issue of ICWA's
applicability. B.H., 138 P.3d at 303. Therefore, if
there is a reason to know or believe that a child is an
Indian child, the Department must provide notice to any
identified Indian tribes. See 25 U.S.C. §
1912(a) (2012); § 19-1-126(1)(b); People in Interest
of N.D.C., 210 P.3d 494, 497 (Colo.App. 2009).
4 In doing so, the Department must directly notify the tribe
by registered or certified mail with return receipt requested
of the pending child custody proceedings and its right to
intervene. 25 C.F.R. § 23.111(a) (2017); see People
in Interest of L.L., 2017 COA 38, ¶¶ 34-35.
The notice must include:
(1) The child's name, birthdate, and birthplace;
(2) All names known (including maiden, married, and former
names or aliases) of the parents, the parents' birthdates
and birthplaces, and Tribal enrollment numbers if known;
If known, the names, birthdates, birthplaces, and Tribal
enrollment information of other direct lineal ancestors of
the child . . .;
name of each Indian Tribe in which the child is a member (or
may be eligible for membership if ...