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I.F v. the Superior Court of Solano County

December 28, 2010


(Solano County Super. Ct. No. J39570, J39571)

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

I.F. v. Superior Court



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

With this petition for an extraordinary writ pursuant to California Rules of Court, rule 8.452, petitioner I.C., the mother of minors E.D. and D.C., seeks to vacate the order of respondent Superior Court of Solano County terminating reunification services and setting a hearing to terminate her parental rights in accordance with Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26. Petitioner contends substantial evidence does not support the court's findings that (1) reasonable reunification services were provided by real party in interest Solano County Department of Child Welfare Services (Department), and (2) there was not a substantial probability that the minors could be safely returned to her custody if additional reunification services were provided. We conclude both contentions are without merit, and deny the petition on its merits.


In September 2009, petitioner's children already having been detained and removed from her custody, the juvenile court sustained the allegation of a petition filed by the Department to the effect that "for approximately the past five years" petitioner had "criminal and substance abuse issues that have rendered her incapable of caring for and making decisions" for the minors.

The social worker's report for the dispositional hearing advised the court that the whereabouts of E.D.'s father was unknown, while that of D.C.'s father was known. Petitioner was on parole. Concerning the source of her difficulties, petitioner, who was 42 years of age at the time, told the social worker that "she has been clean from illegal drugs since June 27, 2009, and prior to that she had used crack for approximately eighteen years, alcohol for sixteen years and methamphetamines for thirty-three years and reports that methamphetamines are her drug of choice." Petitioner was further reported as desiring "to reconnect with her children and obtain substance abuse treatment and being able to locate stable housing and employment." Petitioner was advised that "if she does not successfully reunify with her children, that the children could be placed for adoption due to the fact that there is a concurrent plan for adoption. The [social worker] also went over the time line for services in regards to children of their age."

The Department concluded that it was "not recommending that the children be returned to their mother's care. She has just been released from incarceration and reports not yet having adequate housing. She also reports a recent history of drug usage and has yet to seek treatment, however it is acknowledged that she was just recently released from incarceration. Also the children have resided with numerous relatives for at least the last seven years and have never resided with their mother for a significant period of time. . . . [A]t this time the risk for further abuse and neglect remains high."

In November 2009, the juvenile court accepted the Department's recommendations that the minors be declared dependent children, and that petitioner be provided with reunification services. A six-month review hearing was scheduled for May 2010.

In its Status Review Report for that hearing, the Department informed the court that petitioner was "currently living in Vacaville at a family member's home. . . . She has not attended the weekly substance abuse groups for clients waiting to be placed into a treatment program. She was referred back to the wait/list group on 4/7/10 and advised that if she attends group on 4/9/10, there is a spot for her in a treatment program."

Concerning petitioner's progress with her case plan, the social worker reported that petitioner was not in compliance in a number of respects. First, she had not secured adequate housing for herself and the children. Second, she was "in progress" with the objective of learning better parenting skills and staying drug free. As to this last point, the social worker stated: "[Petitioner] has complied with most required drug testing. [Petitioner] tested negative on 1/14/10, 2/3/10, 2/19/10, and 3/19/10. [Petitioner] failed to test as required on 1/13/10, 1/22/10, and 1/29/10. [Petitioner] was directed to attend the County Wait-List Substance Abuse groups weekly in order to maintain her spot on the wait list for substance abuse treatment. [Petitioner] has not consistently attended the groups, and therefore, she continues to lose her spot on the wait list. She has not attended NA/AA [Narcotics Anonymous/Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings during this reporting period."

Petitioner was erratic in keeping her weekly visits with the children. Under the heading "Progress Made Toward Alleviating or Mitigating the Causes Necessitating Out of Home Placement," the social worker described petitioner's progress as "minimal." "[Petitioner] is partially participating in pursuing her case plan . . . . She occasionally demonstrated desired behaviors. [Petitioner] has made minimal progress towards engaging in substance abuse services. She has not demonstrated an ability to safely parent her children and has made little progress towards mitigating the factors that brought her children into care."

The social worker also tried to be delicate in describing petitioner's difficulty in coming to grips with the situation: "[Petitioner] . . . feels she is doing everything she needs to do to have her children returned to her care. She is frustrated that she is being asked to do these things when her children do not want to come live with her. She is hurt that they want to live with the relatives who were caring for them when they came into foster care." "[B]efore the Court is a mother who has 14 living children and she has not fully parented any of her children. Her children were either raised in foster care or by relatives. She is having a hard time establishing herself as a parental figure in ...

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