Top court in South Dakota rules in Indian Child Welfare Act case

The Indian Child Welfare Act requires "active" efforts to reunite an Indian family, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

The "active" requirements of ICWA impose a "higher standard" than those found in state law, the court determined. State law merely requires that "reasonable" efforts be made.

However, in a case involving a child who is a member of the Fort Peck Tribes of Montana the court said state welfare officials made both "active and reasonable" efforts to reunite the child with her father. But the father has been unable to show that he could provide a stable home for his family.

"P.S.E. should not be required to wait for father to develop parenting skills that may never materialize," the decision stated, referring to the child by her initials.

The child, who turned four this month, is currently in foster care. The Fort Peck Tribes support adoption by the foster parents, the court noted.

Get the Story:
Court upholds end of father's parental rights in Fort Peck tribe case (AP 6/21)

South Dakota Supreme Court Decision:
Interest of P.S.E. (June 20, 2012)