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In Re Katelynn Y., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Jennifer M

September 28, 2012

IN RE KATELYNN Y., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JENNIFER M., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of San Diego County, David B. Oberholtzer, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. EJ2485B)

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Affirmed.

Jennifer M. appeals a juvenile court order terminating her reunification services as to her minor daughter, Katelynn Y., under Welfare and Institutions Code section 388, subdivision (c)(1)(B),*fn1 which allows for early termination of services if the inaction of a parent creates a substantial likelihood reunification will not occur. Jennifer contends the court erred, as a matter of law, by terminating her services when Katelynn's father, Christopher Y., was still receiving services with the goal of reunification, and the court did not set a section 366.26 selection and implementation hearing. Alternatively, Jennifer contends the court abused its discretion by terminating her reunification services while offering services to Christopher. We affirm the order.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Jennifer and Christopher (together, the parents) both have a history of methamphetamine use and domestic violence. In December 2010, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) received a referral that Jennifer left five-year-old Katelynn with the maternal grandmother for 12 days, and the parents' whereabouts were unknown. Jennifer had relapsed on drugs and said she intended to seek treatment. The maternal grandmother acquired temporary guardianship of Katelynn later that month.

While in the maternal grandmother's care, Katelynn tried to inappropriately touch a three-year-old child. The maternal grandmother took Katelynn to a therapist, where she disclosed Jennifer and Christopher had been sexually molesting her on a regular basis. Katelynn also said she observed Jennifer and her friend Matt having sex. Agency filed a petition in the juvenile court under section 300, subdivision (c) alleging Katelynn had suffered serious emotional damage, including severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal and outwardly aggressive behavior toward herself and others. The court detained Katelynn in out-of-home care and issued a temporary restraining order protecting her from both parents.

At the jurisdiction and disposition hearing, the court sustained the allegations of the petition, declared Katelynn a dependent, removed her from parental custody and placed her with the paternal grandparents. The court ordered reunification services for the parents, including parenting education, counseling with a therapist specializing in sexual abuse and substance abuse treatment.

During the next six months, Jennifer did not participate in services, had no contact with the social worker and requested no visits with Katelynn. Christopher actively participated in services while he was incarcerated for three months. After his release, he enrolled in drug treatment, but was arrested for violating the conditions of his parole by leaving the program. The social worker recommended the parents receive six more months of reunification services.

Three days before the scheduled six-month review hearing, Katelynn's counsel filed a petition for modification under section 388, subdivision (c) seeking to have the court terminate the parents' services and set a section 366.26 selection and implementation hearing. The petition alleged Katelynn would benefit from the requested modification because her paternal grandparents, with whom she was placed, were committed to providing her with long-term care and she deserved permanency and stability in her life. Agency concurred in the request to terminate the parents' services.

In an addendum report, Agency changed its recommendation as to Christopher and asked the court to continue his services. Christopher had begun drug treatment, was cooperating with requests to drug test and was participating in a sexual abuse perpetrators group. Agency did not change its recommendation to terminate Jennifer's services.

The court held a contested hearing on Katelynn's section 388, subdivision (c) petition. Katelynn's counsel withdrew the request to terminate Christopher's services. After considering the evidence and arguments of counsel, the court terminated Jennifer's reunification services under section 388, subdivision (c)(1)(B), but continued Christopher's services for six months, finding he had made some progress with the provisions of his case plan. The court continued Katelynn's placement with the paternal grandparents.

DISCUSSION

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