QUALIFIED EXPERT WITNESS
Overview

Qualified expert witness testimony is required upon removal of an Indian child from his/her home as to whether or not active efforts were made to prevent placement. This area includes provision of remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of an Indian family. If DHS and the family are unable to work together constructively, DHS should solicit assistance from a community agency with expertise in working with Indian families. The standard for evidence at the jurisdictional hearing is "clear and convincing" which is a high level of proof for showing whether continued custody with the child's parent or custodian would likely result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.



In termination of parental rights proceedings, a qualified expert witness is required to provide testimony as to whether or not active efforts were made towards reunification of the child to his/her parent(s) or custodian. The evidence at these proceedings must show evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is a very high standard for proof that it would be dangerous for the child to return to his or her parent(s) or custodian. The evidence must eliminate all reasonable doubts in the mind of the person deciding the case.

Qualified Expert Witnesses must possess the following characteristics:

It is imperative that the DHS Caseworker identify who the expert witness, or witnesses, will be upon initial contact with the child's Tribe. If no Tribe is involved, begin the recruitment of available and willing qualifying expert witnesses early and avoid waiting until the Court hearing is near. The ICWA Manager will attempt to provide current listings of available Expert Witnesses in Oregon.