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In Re R. M., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. R. M

July 27, 2011


(Super. Ct. No. 08JVSQ2772901)

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

In re R.M.



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Appellant, the father of the minor R. M., appeals from the juvenile court's orders sustaining the supplemental petition of the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency), denying his petition for modification (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 388),*fn1 and terminating parental rights (§§ 366.26, 387, 295). He contends the juvenile court erred in removing the minor from the paternal grandmother's custody pursuant to sections 387 and 361.3. We affirm.


R. M. was born in 2007. He was admitted to the hospital with a fractured right femur in October 2008, and placed in protective custody the following day. Appellant and R. M.'s mother did not know what caused the injury, but a doctor concluded it was consistent with nonaccidental trauma. The Agency filed a dependency petition in November 2008, pursuant to section 300, subdivisions (a) (physical harm) and (b) (failure to protect).

The minor was placed with the paternal grandmother and aunt by the January 2009 disposition report. According to the Agency, they provided R. M. with adequate care and a stable home. The Agency also noted R. M. was diagnosed with De Morsier's syndrome.*fn2

The juvenile court sustained the allegations and ordered services for the parents in May 2009.

The six-month report found the paternal grandmother continued to meet R. M.'s needs, while providing a nurturing and loving environment. However, the Agency was concerned about her strong resistance to placing R. M. in Head Start.

R. M. was scheduled to begin Head Start on September 21, 2009, for three visits a week. He attended two days with the paternal grandmother, and then did not return until October 16, 2009. On September 23, 2009, the paternal grandmother told the Head Start center that R. M. had diarrhea and a fever, and could not return. On October 5, 2009, the paternal grandmother said R. M. could not receive his immunization because of his physical condition and therefore could not return to Head Start.

A social worker contacted the parents following a visit on October 13, 2009. They had not seen any diarrhea when they changed R. M. in the last few weeks, and there was no evidence of a fever.

On October 16, 2009, the social worker confirmed that R. M. attended Head Start and did not have any bouts of diarrhea. After R. M. was absent on October 19, the paternal grandmother called the next day and said he would not attend because of fever and diarrhea. Asked about the following week, the paternal grandmother said R. M. would not be there because she was "'done playing games.'"

A Head Start employee said the staff was unable to assess R. M. due to the paternal grandmother "'interfering and hovering'" over R. M. during the visit. The paternal grandmother wrote a letter to the juvenile court in which she denied resisting Head Start for R. M. and asserted she was following Head Start's directives that he could not attend when sick.

The head of the parent-infant program told the social worker she supported Head Start for R. M., but it would take a lot of energy from him because of his limited mobility. She noted R. M. did not cry when the paternal grandmother left him at the Head Start center, which could be due to a lack of bonding.

A January 2010 report stated the paternal grandmother continued to meet R. M.'s needs. R. M.'s development was growing with his involvement in Head Start, occupational therapy, and with an infant mental health specialist. The paternal grandmother said she did not see any progress since R. M. started attending Head Start. This was contradicted by people working with R. M., who noted he was now able to engage with other children, his eating skills had improved, he was walking, and continued to develop his large motor skills since he went to Head Start.

R. M. moved to a confidential foster home in January 2010 after appellant threatened to get a gun and shoot all of the involved parties at the courthouse. Appellant later clarified that the threat was limited to the paternal grandmother.

In January 2010, the juvenile court granted a temporary restraining order against appellant to stay away from the paternal grandmother. The juvenile court granted a three year restraining order against appellant the following month. Through counsel, appellant told the juvenile court he regretted his statements and that he was merely venting.

The Agency filed a supplemental petition (§ 387) in March 2010 alleging: (1) appellant's threats; (2) the paternal grandmother's resistance to Head start; (3) the paternal aunt was allowed to transport R. M. even though she takes medicine for vertigo and had fallen down the stairs in December 2009; (4) the paternal grandmother minimized safety concerns related to the paternal aunt; (5) service vouchers for R. M. had not been returned by the paternal grandmother; (6) R. M.'s services providers noticed dramatic improvement in his development since he was removed to a foster home; and (7) that the previous disposition had not been effective.

R. M.'s parent-infant specialist told the social worker she had a hard time getting answers from the paternal grandmother about the minor's medical care. She also felt the paternal grandmother did not make the best choices about which family members cared for him. For example, the paternal aunt "'appeared buzzed out of her mind'" at one home visit, swaying back and forth until she finally agreed to her boyfriend's repeated requests to sit down.

The specialist found R. M. made "great progress in his expressive language" since his foster placement. The foster mother was very attentive, receptive to R. M.'s needs, open to suggestions, and appeared to provide a stimulating environment.

R. M.'s occupational therapist wrote a letter relating the boy's slow progress under the paternal grandmother. The therapist thought the paternal grandmother and paternal aunt had many issues with the social work system. The paternal grandmother's home was safe, but not child friendly. For example, the grandmother's home used plastic picnic type utensils for R. M. rather than toddler utensils and dishes.

The occupational therapist also found problems with the paternal aunt. The paternal aunt and her boyfriend, both of whom were on disability, were the primary daytime caregivers for R. M. The paternal aunt's demeanor changed after she delivered her baby, with episodes of slurred words and stumbling. The paternal aunt said she was having trouble with her new medications; she continued to care for ...

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