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In Re J. H. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. P. H. et al

February 14, 2012

IN RE J. H. ET AL., PERSONS COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SACRAMENTO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
P. H. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



(Super. Ct. Nos. JD229180, JD229181)

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

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Mother (L. A.) and father (P. H.) appeal from findings and orders made by the juvenile court at the 12-month review stage. (Welf. & Inst. Code,*fn1 § 366.21, subd. (f).) Mother appeals from the court's finding that she had received reasonable reunification services, and also argues that the court erred by allowing the minors to remain placed with the paternal grandparents. Father appeals from the court's no-contact order as to the minors. We affirm as to mother's appeal and dismiss father's appeal as moot.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In February 2009, Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services (the department) filed section 300 petitions as to K. H., a 13-year-old girl, and J. H., an 11-year-old boy, alleging that father had repeatedly sexually assaulted K. H. The accompanying protective custody warrant stated that father was arrested on January 20, 2009, and the minors were in the care of the paternal grandmother.

According to the detention report, the minors already missed father. K. H. had forgiven him, saying: "He is a good father. He must have gone crazy."

At the initial hearing, the juvenile court (Referee Peter Helfer) ordered that father have no contact with the minors.

The jurisdiction/disposition report recommended placing the minors with the paternal grandparents, denying services to father under section 361.5, subdivision (b)(6) (severe sexual abuse of K. H.), and offering them to mother.

The report stated that mother and father divorced in 2000, then equally shared custody of the minors. Mother later married B. A. (the stepfather), with whom she had two children. Mother and the stepfather intended to request placement of the minors with them.

When father was arrested, mother had been in a coma for six weeks. She was in and out of the hospital for two or three months due to liver failure. Father claimed she had been an alcoholic since 1996; K. H. had lived with him since she was 11 and visited mother only on alternate weekends; and J. H. had lived full-time with him since mother was hospitalized.

The stepfather acknowledged that mother was diagnosed with alcohol-induced hepatitis; however, he and mother denied that she was an alcoholic, and she was highly resistant to participating in treatment for alcohol abuse. Since November 2008 she had been deaf and did not know sign language. She appeared older than her age and in ill health, but believed her condition would improve.

An alcohol and other drug assessment (assessment) determined that mother was a substance abuser, primarily of alcohol. She was referred to Specialized Treatment and Recovery Services, but would not or could not participate due to her deafness and her denial of alcoholism. She was referred to one-on-one in-home substance abuse counseling, but would be expected to participate in standard programs once her hearing improved.

Father intended to plead no contest to the criminal charges against him.

The paternal grandmother said she had taken care of the minors on and off since they were born. She had long known of mother's drinking problem. The minors had told her they did not like going to mother's house because she was always sick and throwing up; K. H. had begged mother to quit drinking. The stepfather was the minors' primary caregiver when they were at mother's house.

The minors said the allegations against father were true. J. H. felt sad about him and really missed him; K. H. felt "bad, sad and angry" with him, and also felt sad for J. H. because she knew he missed father.

The minors wanted to stay with the paternal grandparents. They did not want to live with mother again because they did not feel safe in her home: she was always "sick" and they were treated badly there. The minors had to care for their half siblings because mother could not do so. According to K. H., mother and the stepfather were verbally abusive.

K. H. was briefly hospitalized with psychosomatic seizures and memory loss, probably due to a stress reaction. She was scheduled to see a counselor and a psychologist.

K. H. said mother was "negative" during their visits. K. H. wanted mother's visits to be limited to one every three weeks, to take place somewhere other than mother's house, and to exclude the stepfather. She wanted supervised visits with father.

At the jurisdiction/disposition hearing in April 2009, the juvenile court sustained the allegations of the section 300 petition, offered services to mother, and denied them to father. The minors' case plans included individual counseling, with family counseling to follow "with approval of therapist."

The six-month review report recommended continued services for mother and conjoint counseling for mother and the minors.*fn2

The minors were happy in the paternal grandparents' home and wanted to stay there permanently; the grandparents were willing to adopt them or to become their legal guardians. The minors did not want to live with mother, or with the stepfather, whom they disliked and felt unsafe with.

The minors enjoyed their individual counseling, but the social worker did not know how it was going because Kaiser had a policy "to not share any information that is used for any Court purposes."

According to the paternal grandparents, the minors were doing very well at home and at school, but K. H. had begun to have stress-related seizures again.

Mother had engaged in drug and alcohol testing, AA attendance, and individual counseling. Her counselor would provide parenting education because her hearing impairment precluded a standard program.

Visitation had not gone well. When mother's visits were unsupervised, she talked inappropriately about recovering custody, cried, and made the minors feel uncomfortable and unsafe. She asked J. H. why he did not like the stepfather and "remind[ed]" J. H. that the stepfather loved him. At one visit, she coerced K. H. into writing a letter to the juvenile court praising the stepfather. The paternal grandmother told the social worker the minors did not want further unsupervised visits, and the minors refused to go to the next scheduled visit. Accordingly, future visits were to be supervised.

The social worker saw a "dire need" for conjoint counseling to resolve the minors' "issues" with mother.

At the six-month review hearing, father requested letter contact with the minors. The juvenile court granted the request on the condition that the department screen father's letters and that the minors' therapists be consulted in advance of any contact.

Mother asked that the stepfather be included in family counseling. The court ordered conjoint counseling, but with the stepfather's involvement "only when deemed appropriate by the ...


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