In re Nicole B.

976 A.2d 1039 (2009)

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In re Nicole B.

Maryland Supreme Court
976 A.2d 1039 (2009)

Facts

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) imposed a special burden if the state sought to remove an Indian child from her home: the state was required to satisfy the court that (1) it had made active efforts to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family and (2) the efforts were unsuccessful. Wendy B. (defendant) was a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota (tribe). Wendy had two children, Max B. and Nicole B., who both qualified for ICWA protections. Child Welfare Services (CWS) (plaintiff) received a report that Wendy was neglecting five-year-old Max and three-year-old Nicole. Wendy did not regularly serve meals to Max and Nicole; Max’s front teeth had decayed, and his asthma was untreated; and Nicole was not toilet trained. CWS learned that Wendy suffered from an addiction to drugs. Max and Nicole were removed from Wendy’s home and placed with their aunt, Denise P., with the goal of reunification. Wendy was granted supervised visitation and required to obtain a substance-abuse evaluation, adhere to treatment recommendations, undergo semi-weekly urine screens, and remain free of drugs and alcohol. The court held five review hearings between June 2005 and July 2006. At each hearing, CWS reported to the court that Wendy made no progress towards sobriety or other requirements. CWS changed the goal to permanent placement with a relative. The trial court found that while the state made great efforts towards reunification, Wendy was not making efforts. CWS moved to close the matter and allow Max and Nicole to stay in Denise’s custody, but Wendy requested more time to meet the requirements. The court granted Wendy’s request. Three months later, the court found that Wendy had not addressed her substance abuse and her home was unsafe for Max and Nicole. The court denied Wendy’s request for another extension of time, finding that 14 months was enough time for her to progress towards meeting the requirements. The court closed the case, leaving Max and Nicole in Denise’s custody. Wendy appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eldridge, J.)

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