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In Re V.F. Iv, A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. V.F. Iii

December 6, 2011

IN RE V.F. IV, A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. NEVADA COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
V.F. III, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. J8500)

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

In re V.F. 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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 minor's father, appeals from the juvenile court's orders denying his petition for modification and terminating his parental rights. (Welf. & Inst. Code, §§ 366.26, 388, 395.)*fn1 He claims the juvenile court erred by reducing his visitation with the minor when it terminated his reunification services and abused its discretion by denying his request to modify the order terminating services. We disagree and affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In October 2008, the Nevada County Human Services Agency (the Agency) filed a petition regarding V.F. IV, who was then a week old. The petition alleged that the minor's mother had a history of domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health problems, and father had a history of alcohol abuse.

According to the jurisdiction report, father had a lengthy history of arrests and police contacts for alcohol- and drug-related incidents. He had an outstanding warrant in Idaho on a probation violation for misdemeanor hit-and-run and driving under the influence (DUI) offenses and leaving the state to avoid apprehension. His Idaho probation officer described him as "a raving alcoholic" with "a history of . . . abusing alcohol and illicit drugs for years." (Italics omitted.) According to the probation officer, father had multiple DUI convictions in Idaho, had not completed any treatment, had not completed drug court, and was "facing approximately [one and one-half] years of time."

An addendum report stated that a police officer in Truckee had had multiple contacts with father. According to the officer, father was under the influence on most of these occasions. Police reports revealed several police contacts where father was very intoxicated.

The minor's mother left the state before the jurisdiction hearing and informed the social worker that she would not be able to reunify with the minor. Father, on the other hand, was initially cooperative with the Agency and began participating in services.

In December 2008, the Agency filed an amended petition alleging that "father has an alcohol abuse problem which impairs his ability to provide safe and consistent care of the newborn baby."

In January 2009, the juvenile court sustained the allegations in the amended petition and ordered reunification services.

At first, father's compliance with his case plan appeared promising. He attended AA meetings, group counseling and individual therapy. There were concerns about his use of Vicodin, which he took for back pain.*fn2 On his own initiative he discussed with his doctor discontinuing this medication. Visits with the minor were described as positive and loving, and in February 2009, father began having overnight visits.

By June 2009, however, father's attitude had changed. He told the social worker that he felt he did not have a problem anymore and he was "tired of doing all of the things that [the Agency] was asking." He believed he was "unfairly referred to CPS" and felt the Agency was the source of many of his problems. When asked about his plans for obtaining employment, he "responded in a very crude and inappropriate manner." He continued to test positive for opiates even though he stated he only used Vicodin when he worked, and he had not been working. He admitted that he sometimes took two or three pills at a time instead of a single pill as prescribed. He was upset about being subject to random drug testing, which he felt was interfering with his ability to obtain employment, and he told the social worker that he knew "how to beat" the tests.

In an effort to "clean up his legal issues," father had been incarcerated twice on outstanding warrants in California (Ventura and Nevada Counties), which resulted in interruptions in his counseling. In July 2009, he tested positive for Benzodiazepine and told the social worker "they must have put it in the food at jail." (Italics omitted.) Father's attendance at 12-step meetings had decreased and, according to his group counselor, he "attempt[ed] to beat the drug testing as well as manipulate other aspects of the program he is participating in." On the other hand, his therapist, who was working with him "on issues of denial and accepting responsibility as well as anger issues," felt he had begun to show more insight.

Father consistently visited the minor except when he was incarcerated, and visits continued to be very positive. He "display[ed] responsibility, follow through and enjoyment in almost all areas related to arranging and participating in the visits" and was responsive to suggestions.

In November 2009, the Agency received a report that father had told several friends "he had taken 'acid' and cocaine" while the minor was in his care and that "he was able to 'beat the drug test with CPS.'" When confronted about the statements, he claimed he "was just joking around."

Father's testing schedule was increased to three times per week. He was reportedly "demanding, belligerent and rude" when he came in for testing. He failed to test on numerous occasions in November and December and submitted at least five diluted samples, whereas he had had no diluted samples prior to November 2009. In the week preceding the 12-month review hearing, he refused to submit to an unscheduled test and failed to show up for another test.

Father was described as "disruptive and difficult" in group counseling sessions. His counselor stated that he would have been expelled from the program if it were not for the Agency's requirement that he attend. Although he had completed the minimum number of individual counseling sessions required and was making progress, he did not follow a recommendation that he attend additional sessions. And although his in-home parenting trainer found him responsive to her suggestions, he was inconsistent about keeping appointments and was "not making progress as quickly as she would like." She felt that father's "maturity level [came] into play with his parenting" and that he had not made sufficient progress for her to recommend placing the minor in his care.

Visitation, on the other hand, continued to be "one of the most positive aspects of th[e] case," and there appeared to be a strong bond between father and the minor. Father was open to suggestions made during ...


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