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Dept. of Human Services v. D. L. H.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-22-2012
Case #: A149947
Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Schuman, P.J.; and Wollheim, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A149947.pdf

Indian Law: Per the Indian Child Welfare Act, a permanency hearing involving a tribal member requires active efforts to reunify the family. Active efforts means the Department of Human Services must actually assist in the reunification process.

Parents appealed a juvenile court ruling terminating their parental rights. Parents argued the juvenile court erred because the Department of Human Services (DHS) failed to make active efforts to reunify the family per the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Mother argued separately that the first change to the permanency plan should have been reunification and that the court erred when determining her prison sentence would hinder such reunification. DHS argued they acted in a reasonable manner to reunite Mother and Father with child. The Court of Appeals held that DHS had made active efforts with Mother, but had failed to make active efforts in regards to Father. Active efforts requires the actual assistance of the client during the reunification process. The Court came to this conclusion because Father never refused to engage in treatment and that the record was void of any evidence that Father was even offered any treatment. The Court concluded that because active efforts must be shown before terminating a parent's rights, and since DHS failed to show they acted proactively, the court erred in terminating parental rights to Father. Affirmed in regards to Mother, reversed and remanded in regards to Father.