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Jamie K. v. Superior Court of San Diego County

January 14, 2009


Proceedings for extraordinary relief after reference to a Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 hearing. Michael Imhoff, Commissioner. Petition denied. Stay vacated. (San Diego County Super. Ct. No. N013695).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irion, J.

Jamie K. seeks writ review of orders terminating her reunification services and setting a Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26*fn1 hearing regarding her daughter, Emily K. We deny the petition.


On June 22, 2006, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) petitioned on behalf of two-month-old Emily under section 300, subdivision (b), alleging she was at a substantial risk of harm because on June 19, while under the influence of alcohol, Jamie pushed her in a stroller across a busy intersection against a right light, and Jamie's history of alcohol use made her unable to provide regular care and supervision.

Jamie was arrested for child endangerment for the June 19 incident. Blood tests showed her alcohol level was .28 and .27. She denied being at the intersection or having such high blood alcohol readings. The social worker reported Jamie had served in the military and had previous psychiatric hospitalizations, suicide attempts, alcohol dependence, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a history of being raped.

Jamie stipulated to an amended petition, and the court declared Emily a dependent child of the court, ordered her removed from Jamie's custody and ordered Jamie to participate in substance abuse treatment and testing and parenting classes.

In a report dated December 12, 2006, the social worker reported Emily was living with her maternal grandparents (the grandparents), in San Diego County. Jamie had some participation in counseling, substance abuse treatment and parenting education. At the six-month review hearing, the court continued reunification services.

In February 2007 Jamie moved to San Diego County and said she would participate in alcohol-related treatment and testing and that she was attending parenting classes and had an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. The social worker was not able to verify these claims. At the 12-month review hearing, the court found Jamie was in partial compliance with her case plan, continued her services and continued Emily's placement with the grandparents. The matter was transferred to San Diego County and, on July 26, the San Diego County Juvenile Court ordered Jamie to report for an evaluation by the Substance Abuse Recovery Management System (SARMS) program.

Subsequently, the social worker said Jamie was making substantial progress and recommended returning Emily to her with family maintenance services. He reported Jamie began residential substance abuse treatment at KIVA on September 28, 2007, and was having negative tests for drugs and alcohol, was participating in therapy and was having regular visits with Emily. At the 18-month hearing on February 11, 2008, the court ordered Emily returned to Jamie's custody.

However, on June 3, 2008, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) petitioned on Emily's behalf under section 387, alleging Jamie could no longer provide adequate care in that on May 25 she was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. The court made a prima facie finding on the petition and ordered Emily detained with the grandparents.

At the jurisdictional and dispositional hearing in August 2008, the social worker testified Jamie was a very loving parent and had cooperated with the provisions of her case plan, and Emily appeared to thrive in her care. The social worker said Jamie had not received treatment for PTSD as a part of her reunification services because it had not been an issue in the case. She began receiving treatment for PTSD after her relapse and said she was dedicated to doing whatever she could to reunify with Emily. The social worker said he was concerned about Jamie's ability to be a safe parent for Emily because of her alcohol abuse.

The supervisor of Jamie and Emily's visits during the two months before the hearing testified Jamie showed good parenting skills, and Jamie and Emily appeared to share a strong bond. The coordinator of supervised visitation agreed and said Jamie seemed to be conscientious and concerned about seeing Emily.

Jamie testified that before the current social worker began working on her case, her services were inconsistent and the grandparents blocked her visitation. She said several doctors had diagnosed her with PTSD and her May 2008 arrest was related to this disorder because when the police arrested her, she did not recognize them as police officers and thought they would try to rape her. She said she was committed to being sober and wanted to be a good mother and to do everything she could to reunify with Emily.

After considering the documentary evidence, testimony and argument, the court found the allegations of the petition to be true, removed Emily from Jamie's custody and placed her with the grandparents. It found Jamie had not made substantive progress with the provisions ...

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