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

December 1, 2011

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



(Super. Ct. No. JD230583)

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

In re A.M.

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 mother of the minor, appeals from the juvenile court's orders denying her request for modification and terminating parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 388, 395; further statutory references are to the Welfare and Institutions Code.) On appeal, appellant contends the juvenile court erred by denying her an evidentiary hearing on her request for a modification. We affirm the superior court's orders.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

In April 2010, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) filed a dependency petition concerning the nearly three-year-old minor based on appellant's inability to provide regular care due to her substance abuse. As later amended, the petition alleged that the minor opened the door to police officers who were responding to a welfare check at the home, and appellant was found passed out on the couch with track marks on her arms. Syringes, a plastic bag with cocaine residue, pills and burning incense were located in the residence within reach of the minor, and appellant admitted to using heroin the previous day. She was arrested for child endangerment and possession of a controlled substance.

Appellant, who was 36 years old, reported that her "drug of choice" was heroin. She began injecting the drug at age 31 and had overdosed several times. She had used a variety of other drugs beginning at age 12, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and hallucinogens. She had been through a variety of treatment programs, most recently an outpatient program that she stopped attending after two months. She also took medication for mental health problems.

The allegations in the amended petition were sustained. At the dispositional hearing in July 2010, appellant was granted reunification services, and the minor was placed with her great-aunt and uncle.

By the six-month review, appellant had completed "detox" twice but otherwise had been discharged from a number of treatment programs due to noncompliance. In addition, she was not having her medications monitored as required, and she had three psychiatric hospitalizations in the preceding two months. She also had not attended counseling or completed a parenting class. And although appellant's visits with the minor were positive, they were suspended at one point due to her continued drug use. Noting that the Department had no further resources to offer appellant, the social worker recommended termination of her services.

Appellant failed to appear at the six-month review hearing, which occurred in November 2010. The juvenile court terminated reunification services and set the matter for a hearing pursuant to section 366.26 to select and implement a permanent plan for the minor.

According to the social worker's report for the section 366.26 hearing, the minor's great-aunt and uncle were committed to adopting her. The minor was described as being "comfortable in the home and . . . look[ed] to her caretakers to have her needs met."

Meanwhile, in March 2011, appellant filed a request to modify the juvenile court's order terminating services. She alleged she was participating in a residential treatment program and had signed up for counseling and a parenting course. She attached written verification of these assertions, including a letter from the community director of her treatment program confirming that she had entered the program in February 2011. The letter stated that appellant had been "working consistently with the guidelines and the standards" of the program and "commend[ed] [her] for her current progress and positive steps to become a productive, successful member ...


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