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In Re C.F., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. v. S.F. et al

January 12, 2012

IN RE C.F., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SHASTA COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
S.F. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. No. 10JVSQ2833401)

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

In re C.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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

S.T., the biological father of minor C.F., appeals from the juvenile court's denial of his petition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 388*fn1 and from the court's ruling that the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq. (ICWA)) did not apply.*fn2 We conclude that the juvenile court's denial of presumed father status to S.T. was correct. The record shows that S.T. did not make a full commitment to his parental responsibilities. With regard to ICWA, we conclude that one tribe did not receive the ICWA notice and the matter must be remanded for such notice. Accordingly, we vacate the juvenile court's orders on appeal and remand for further notice under ICWA.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The minor, C.F., was detained at birth in January 2010 because mother (S.F.) and the alleged father (W.F.) allegedly had substance abuse, anger control, and domestic violence problems that put the minor at risk, and their parental rights to three other children had been terminated.

The jurisdiction/disposition report recommended foster care for the minor; bypassing reunification services to mother and the alleged father.

An addendum report stated that on March 22, 2010, S.T. contacted the Shasta County Department of Social Services (Department) to say that he might be the minor's biological father and wanted a DNA test. The social worker informed him of the scheduled jurisdiction/disposition hearing on April 30, 2010, and mailed him the documents he would need to complete.*fn3 As of April 15, 2010, he had not returned the documents.

At the jurisdiction/disposition hearing, the juvenile court exercised jurisdiction over the minor, ordered him placed in foster care, denied services to mother and the alleged father, and set a section 366.26 hearing.*fn4

On June 22, 2010, the social worker renoticed S.T. and remailed the documents to him "c/o Teen Challenge, P.O. Box 40100, San Francisco, CA 94140." On July 8, 2010, S.T. completed and returned the documents, which included a request for DNA testing and an ICWA-020-form (020-form). On the 020-form, S.T. indicated that he might have Indian ancestry in the Mono, Pit River, and "Madacy" [sic] tribes. He also stated that one or more of his lineal ancestors is or was a member of the Pit River and Table Mountain tribes.

On July 21, 2010, the juvenile court appointed counsel and ordered DNA testing for S.T.

The section 366.26 report, filed August 12, 2010, recommended terminating the parental rights of mother, the alleged father, and S.T., and ordering a permanent plan of adoption by the minor's maternal aunt, with whom the minor was placed.

According to the report, S.T. entered Teen Challenge, a residential drug treatment program in San Francisco, in April 2010, and was expected to complete the program by October 2011. He had no relationship or contacts with the minor.

After the DNA results confirmed S.T.'s biological paternity, an addendum report filed November 5, 2010, recommended that the juvenile court find S.T. a mere biological father. According to the Shasta County Probation Officer, S.T. was on probation until September 2011. He entered Teen Challenge, a program normally lasting up to a year and half, in lieu of a prison sentence, after failing three times in Proposition 36.

On November 8, 2010, the juvenile court continued the matter for ICWA noticing.

An addendum report filed January 18, 2011, stated that ICWA notice had been sent on November 10, 2010, to Big Sandy Rancheria, Cold Springs Rancheria, North Fork Rancheria, and Pit River Reservation.*fn5

S.T. was in contact with the Department and had been generally cooperative. He expected to complete Teen Challenge on March 26, 2011, and then move back to the Redding area. He wanted to do whatever was needed to get the minor placed with him. In December 2010, he and his mother approached the maternal great-grandmother in church to ask her to give the minor a gift from him and to ask for pictures of the minor. After this contact, the relative caregiver was advised that any such communication, including the exchange of gifts and pictures, should be handled through the Department.*fn6

The minor was thriving with his relative caregiver, who wanted the placement to become permanent.

On January 28, 2011, the juvenile court again continued the matter for ICWA noticing and granted S.T. a one-hour visit with the minor. The court received a letter from the executive director of San Francisco Teen Challenge, praising S.T.'s work in the program and opining that S.T. "has become a man of God and has learned what it takes to be a father to his child."

On February 15, 2011, the juvenile court ordered up to six hours a week of supervised visitation for S.T.

On March 10, 2011, the relative caregiver requested de facto parent and prospective adoptive parent status. An attached letter from Lilliput Children's Services stated that her home had been approved as an adoptive home.

An addendum report filed April 1, 2011, stated that S.T.'s visit on January 28, 2011, had gone well. He had moved to the Redding area on February 8, 2011, and transferred into the Redding branch of Teen Challenge. He had begun parenting classes on February 14, 2011, and had attended regularly. His scheduled visitation was generally good, although he had missed a couple of visits. However, he did not have a ...


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