New Jersey appeals court calls for notice to tribes in ICWA case

The case originated in the Camden County Courthouse in Camden, New Jersey. Image from Google Maps

Child welfare officials must notify Cherokee tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs before terminating the parental rights of a woman who claims Cherokee heritage, a New Jersey appeals court ruled on Friday.

The woman, identified as D.T.K., is not presently enrolled in the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians or the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The woman and her mother provided the state with the names of their ancestors but the Division of Child Protection and Permanency didn't follow up with any of the tribes or the BIA despite the possibility that the Indian Child Welfare Act might apply, the court said.

"Given what K.T.D. and her mother reported to the court, there was sufficient reason to know or believe Ann might be an Indian child as defined under the ICWA," the court wrote in a per curiam decision. Ann is a fictitious name used by the court to protect the daughter's privacy.

"We are thus compelled to remand this matter so that the appropriate notices can be provided to the Cherokee tribes and the BIA in accordance with the ICWA and its implementing regulations," the court added.

The woman's parental rights were being terminated due to substance abuse issues, according to the decision. The daughter, who was born in 2012, is currently living with a family friend who wants to adopt her, the court said.

Get the Story:
Mom with drug history wins parental rights appeal in Camden County (The Cherry Hill Courier Post 2/22)

New Jersey Appellate Court Decision:
Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. K.T.D. (February 20, 2015)

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