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In Re R.L. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. E.L

December 20, 2010

IN RE R.L. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW.
SONOMA COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
E.L., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Sonoma County Super. Ct. Nos. 3024-DEP, 3025-DEP)

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

In re R.L.

CA1/4

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

I. INTRODUCTION

Appellant E.L. is the mother of three-year-old twins, R.L. and S.L., who have been found to be dependent children of the juvenile court. At the six-month review hearing, the court terminated reunification services and set a hearing pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26.*fn1 Months later, appellant filed a petition for modification pursuant to section 388. The juvenile court denied the section 388 petition without a hearing, and proceeded with the section 366.26 hearing, which resulted in the termination of appellant's parental rights.

Appellant has filed a notice of appeal from both the denial of the section 388 petition and the termination order, but presents appellate argument only regarding the section 388 petition. She claims the juvenile court erred by denying the section 388 petition without conducting an evidentiary hearing. We disagree, and affirm.

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Respondent Sonoma County Human Services Department (the Department) filed a juvenile dependency petition on December 31, 2008, when the twins were 21 months old. The Department alleged that appellant had failed to provide adequate care, support, and a safe living environment for the children, within the meaning of section 300, subdivisions (b) and (g), due to appellant leaving the minors with a friend and then not returning at the agreed-upon time or calling to explain her absence. The Department also alleged that appellant "has a history of substance abuse that, at times, renders her unable to provide adequate care and supervision for the minors . . . ." The juvenile court detained the children and placed them in foster care.

In a combined jurisdictional and dispositional report, the Department noted that appellant had left the children for three days with an unrelated caretaker whom she had known for only three weeks. She left them purportedly for an evening, and three days later she had not come back or called to check on them. A police officer who interviewed appellant after she was located reported that she explained her behavior by saying that she needed a break from her kids.

At the time the report was written, appellant did not have stable income or housing, and she "appear[ed] to have a significant problem with alcohol, which she acknowledges . . . ." After her children were taken into protective custody, she waited three weeks to contact the Department. Furthermore, she failed to visit her children; she also failed to provide the Department with a random drug and alcohol test. The report noted that appellant has an older child, M., who resides with her ex-husband in New York. Appellant left M. when she was two years old, and had not seen or had any contact with her for the previous four years.

The court sustained the allegations of the petition and found the children to be dependent children under section 300, subdivisions (b) and (g). At the dispositional hearing, the juvenile court found there would be substantial danger to the children if they were returned to appellant's custody, and ordered reunification services per the Department's recommendation.

The matter was once again before the court for a three-month update on May 7, 2009. Appellant was not engaging in services and was still testing positive for alcohol consumption. By the time of the six-month review hearing, the Department's report indicated that appellant had attended a parenting class and she was attending classes to address her alcohol problem. She was also participating in weekly individual therapy. Visitation with the children was supervised and described as "enjoyable for all parties." However, it was likely that appellant was still not able to maintain her sobriety. It was reported that appellant had been asked to submit to random drug and alcohol tests twelve times. She had failed to show six times (two of which involved ...


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