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In re Holly B.

April 8, 2009

IN RE HOLLY B., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
MONO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
CLUSTER B., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from orders of the Superior Court of Mono County, Stan Eller, Judge. Dismissed. (Super. Ct. No. 3SCJ1358).

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Cluster B., father of the minor, appeals from findings and orders made at a status review hearing and from an order granting respondent's petition for modification. (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 §§ 366.3, 388, 395.) Appellant contends the juvenile court abused its discretion in granting the petition for modification brought by the Department of Health and Human Services (the department) to rescind a prior order for a psychological examination of the minor and thereby erred in finding the department provided adequate services to the minor. Appellant also argues the court failed to comply with the notice provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.) Because appellant lacks standing as to the former issues and the latter issue is not cognizable in this appeal, we dismiss the appeal.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Due to the limited scope of this appeal, an extensive recitation of the facts of the dependency proceeding is unnecessary.

Suffice it to say that the minor suffered severe neglect and physical abuse as early as 1994 at the hands of her biological mother, and was placed with appellant in 1998. Problems arose in 1999 and 2000 and eventually, in October 2004, the department removed the 12-year-old minor from appellant's custody due to physical abuse and a pattern of conduct toward the minor which inflicted serious emotional damage upon her. The minor participated in three psychological evaluations, one of which was done prior to removal.

In May 2005, the court sustained the petition, finding the minor had suffered emotional damage as a result of either parental conduct or inability of the parent to provide adequate treatment. The court ordered reunification services for appellant and the stepmother. Appellant failed to reunify and court-ordered services were terminated in August 2006 although voluntary services were provided.

Throughout the dependency, the minor has had multiple placement changes, sometimes doing well in the placement and sometimes not. In July 2006, a placement change returned the minor to a former foster home but, after several months, problems arose and the minor and another foster child ran away in October 2006. A new placement was found, but by December 2006, there were concerns about the stability of the placement and the minor was again placed in the home from which she previously ran away. In late May 2007, the minor again ran away. The foster family agency was no longer willing to work with the minor and described her behavior as reactionary and impulsive. The agency said the minor was unwilling to accept the consequences of her actions and recommended a complete psychological evaluation to determine if she needed medication.

By the June 15, 2007, status review hearing, the minor was still at large and the court ordered a psychological evaluation for the minor to assist in determining her proper placement. Before the next hearing on July 16, 2007, the minor had returned and was placed in Southern California near her sister. County counsel told the court the department was moving forward on the psychological evaluation. The social worker informed the court the minor opposed the evaluation, feeling she had been labeled, and did not want to participate in it. The minor explained to the court why she had run away the second time and why she was happier in her current foster home.

In November 2007, the department filed a petition for modification of the order for a psychological evaluation. The petition stated that, at the time the order was made, the minor was a runaway and there was concern for her mental state, however she had returned and had been stable in her current placement for several months. The petition stated that another evaluation was not in the minor's best interest because she had three prior evaluations, was trying to recover from abuse and neglect and feel normal and the current foster parent saw her as a normal teenager. In the social worker's view, an evaluation would reinforce the view that something was wrong with the minor and would be detrimental to her emotional well-being.

The status review report in December 2007 detailed problems which had arisen in the minor's current foster home which threatened the placement. However, the minor said she did not want to move from the home. An addendum reported the minor had continuing behavioral problems but remained in the placement.

Appellant did not appear at the combined status review and petition for modification hearing. The court granted the petition for modification, deleting the prior order for a psychological evaluation for the minor, and continued the minor in long-term foster care, finding services provided to the minor were adequate.

Additional facts appear where necessary in the ...


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