California Code, Welfare and Institutions Code - WIC § 361.31

(a) If an Indian child is removed from the physical custody of his or her parents or Indian custodian pursuant to Section 361 , the child's placement shall comply with this section.  The placement shall be analyzed each time there is a change in placement.

(b) Any foster care or guardianship placement of an Indian child, or any emergency removal of a child who is known to be, or if there is reason to know that the child is, an Indian child shall be in the least restrictive setting that most approximates a family situation and in which the child's special needs, if any, may be met.  The child shall also be placed within reasonable proximity to the child's home, taking into account any special needs of the child.  Preference shall be given to the child's placement with one of the following, in descending priority order:

(1) A member of the child's extended family, as defined in Section 1903 of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 ( 25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq. ).

(2) A foster home licensed, approved, or specified by the child's tribe.

(3) An Indian foster home licensed or approved by an authorized non-Indian licensing authority.

(4) An institution for children approved by an Indian tribe or operated by an Indian organization that has a program suitable to meet the Indian child's needs.

(c) In any adoptive placement of an Indian child, preference shall be given to a placement with one of the following, in descending priority order:

(1) A member of the child's extended family, as defined in Section 1903 of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 ( 25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq. ).

(2) Other members or citizens of the child's tribe.

(3) Another Indian family.

(d) Notwithstanding the placement preferences listed in subdivisions (b) and (c), if a different order of placement preference is established by the child's tribe, the court or agency effecting the placement shall follow the order of preference established by the tribe, so long as the placement is the least restrictive setting appropriate to the particular needs of the child as provided in subdivision (b).

(e) Where appropriate, the placement preference of the Indian child, if of sufficient age, or parent shall be considered.  In applying the preferences, a consenting parent's request for anonymity shall also be given weight by the court or agency effecting the placement.

(f) The prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian community in which the parent or extended family members of an Indian child reside, or with which the parent or extended family members maintain social and cultural ties, or the prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian child's tribe shall be applied in meeting the placement preferences under this section.  A determination of the applicable prevailing social and cultural standards may be confirmed by the Indian child's tribe or by the testimony or other documented support of a qualified expert witness, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 224.6 , who is knowledgeable regarding the social and cultural standards of the Indian community.

(g) Any person or court involved in the placement of an Indian child shall use the services of the Indian child's tribe, whenever available through the tribe, in seeking to secure placement within the order of placement preference established in this section and in the supervision of the placement.

(h) If a party asserts that good cause not to follow the placement preferences exists, the reason for that assertion shall be stated orally on the record or provided in writing to the parties to the Indian child custody proceeding and the court.

(i) The party seeking departure from the placement preferences shall bear the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that there is good cause to depart from the placement preferences.

(j) A state court's determination of good cause to depart from the placement preferences shall be made on the record or in writing and shall be based on one or more of the following considerations:

(1) The request of one or both of the Indian child's parents, if they attest that they have reviewed the placement options, if any, that comply with the order of preference.

(2) The request of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to understand the decision that is being made.

(3) The presence of a sibling attachment that can be maintained only through a particular placement.

(4) The extraordinary physical, mental, or emotional needs of the Indian child, including specialized treatment services that may be unavailable in the community where families who meet the placement preferences live.

(5) The unavailability of a suitable placement after a determination by the court that a diligent search was conducted.  For purposes of this paragraph, the standard for determining whether a placement is unavailable shall conform to the prevailing social and cultural standards of the Indian community in which the Indian child's parent or extended family resides or with which the Indian child's parent or extended family members maintain social and cultural ties.

(k) A placement shall not depart from the preferences based on the socioeconomic status of any placement relative to another placement.

(l) A placement shall not depart from the preferences based solely on ordinary bonding or attachment that flowed from time spent in a nonpreferred placement that was made in violation of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 ( 25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq. ).

(m) A record of each foster care placement or adoptive placement of an Indian child shall be maintained in perpetuity by the State Department of Social Services.  The record shall document the active efforts to comply with the applicable order of preference specified in this section, and shall be made available within 14 days of a request by the child's tribe.


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