(Super. Ct. No. NJ14148A-B) APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, Blaine K. Bowman, Judge. Affirmed.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: McCONNELL, P. J.
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Ramon H. M. (Father)*fn1 appeals a judgment terminating his parental rights to his minor sons, Ramon M. and Erik M. (minors), under Welfare and Institutions Code*fn2 section 366.26.
Father argues: (1) the court erred by denying placement of the minors in the home of relatives; and (2) the court abused its discretion by denying a continuance of the section 366.26 hearing.
Father further argues the evidence was insufficient to support the court's findings that the beneficial parent-child relationship exception of section 366.26, subdivision (c)(1)(B)(i), did not apply to preclude termination of his parental rights. Yadira M., the minors' mother, joins in Father's arguments.*fn3 We affirm the judgment.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
In April 2009 the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (the Agency) filed petitions on behalf of the minors under section 300, subdivision (b). The petitions alleged heroin and drug paraphernalia, such as syringes and spoons, had been found in the family home in areas accessible to the minors. The accessibility of the drugs and paraphernalia placed the minors at risk of harm. Law enforcement also found a knife in a drawer along with the illegal drugs. Father admitted to authorities that Ramon had played with the knife. Law enforcement arrested Father and a parole hold was placed on him.
The social worker reported that during an interview with Ramon, Ramon stated he had seen his Father giving himself "shots." The social worker further reported Father had an extensive criminal history that included a gang-related drive-by shooting. He also had been charged with drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and firearms. In addition, Father had violated his parole on at least three occasions. Yadira had a criminal history that included a charge for drug possession. Yadira admitted she used heroin and that she also had a history of methamphetamine use.
The court held a detention hearing in April 2009 and detained the minors in out-of-home care.
According to a jurisdiction and disposition report, the Agency represented the parents wanted to reunify with the minors. The Agency mailed Father a prison parenting packet. Yadira received referrals for a drug program and parenting classes. The Agency also recommended supervised visits between the minors and the parents. The Agency noted that both parents suffered from a long history of substance abuse and heroin addiction. The parents needed to demonstrate their ability to remain sober before the Agency could consider recommending that the minors return to their parents' care.
The Agency reported that at the start of the dependency proceedings, the minors had relatives that expressed an interest in caring for them. The paternal grandmother, Mrs. O., requested that her home be evaluated for placement. Mrs. O. lived in her home along with her husband, Mr. O. After conducting a background check, the Agency learned that Mr. O. had a criminal background that included a 1990 felony conviction for willful cruelty to a child with possible injury or death.
The court held an initial jurisdiction and disposition hearing in April 2009. The court found that based on the Agency's criminal background check of the paternal grandparents, placement of the minors in the home was precluded based on the nature of the offense and the offense could not be waived.
In May 2009 the court held a contested jurisdiction and disposition hearing. The court found the allegations in the minors' petitions true, declared them dependents of the court and removed them from parental custody. The court ordered reunification services for Father and Yadira. The minors were placed in the home of a non-relative extended family member (NREFM) and remained in this placement for about one year.
During the next six months, Father did not regularly see the minors as he was in and out of prison from March 2009 until March 2010. Yadira continued to struggle with substance abuse issues. She tested positive for methamphetamine use in October 2009, shortly after she had been granted short, unsupervised visits. As a result of the positive drug test, Yadira's visits reverted back to supervised. She did, however, maintain regular visits with the minors before her positive drug test.
In anticipation of the six-month review hearing, the Agency filed a report recommending that the court terminate reunification services and schedule a section 366.26 hearing. The Agency reported that Father remained in custody. Both parents had not made progress with their case plans and they continued to struggle with substance abuse problems. The minors remained in the home of a ...