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In Re Maricela H., A Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court v. Maria A

October 25, 2012

IN RE MARICELA H., A PERSON COMING UNDER THE JUVENILE COURT LAW. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
MARIA A., DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. CK90742) APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Marguerite Downing, Judge.

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Affirmed.

Maria A. (mother) appeals from the judgment of January 4, 2012, declaring her daughter, Maricela, a dependent of the court after finding Maricela was at risk of suffering serious physical harm "as a result of the failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child" under the first jurisdictional prong of Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b).*fn1 Mother contends substantial evidence does not support jurisdiction because there is no evidence mother was neglectful. We hold the parental conduct to which this jurisdictional provision refers does not require parental neglect and conclude substantial evidence supports the finding. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Maricela was born in 1995 to mother and C.H. (father).*fn2 She lived with mother and her siblings. Mother had a 12-year relationship with father, during which father abused alcohol and hit mother.

Mother had no control over Maricela, who would come and go as she pleased, without telling mother her plans. Mother did not know what Maricela was doing. Maricela associated with "the wrong people," as she put it, used drugs,*fn3 drank, and fought. She stopped going to school. In 2010, when 15 years old, Maricela gave birth to a child. Her relationship with the baby's father involved methamphetamine abuse and domestic violence. Mother provided the baby with a home.

Mother tried to control Maricela by talking to her. She enrolled Maricela in an independent study program and kept her at home. However, Maricela frequently ran away for days at a time and continued engaging in risky, self-destructive behavior. She chased after older men, had unprotected sex, and used drugs and alcohol. Against her better judgment, mother gave permission to Maricela to go out with a girl, and Maricela did not return for two days.

When Maricela left home on September 16, 2011, mother filed a police report and called the Department of Children and Family Services (Department) because Maricela threatened to take the baby from mother's care. The Department detained the baby and offered Maricela a voluntary placement and services plan. Maricela was placed in a group home in Pasadena, was enrolled in school, and agreed to participate in counseling and a substance abuse program.

Maricela stated she wanted to change and follow her program, but she continued abusing drugs, fighting, disregarding rules, and running away. On November 8, 2011, she ran away from the group home to the alleys of Los Angeles after she had assaulted two peers and a teacher.

Maricela was detained on November 9, 2011, and a section 300 petition was filed. Mother denied she was unable to provide parental care and supervision. She did not believe that father getting drunk and hitting her was abuse.

Maricela's behavior improved in the group home. She complied with the rules of her school and the group home, was sober, and did not get into fights.

On January 4, 2012, Maricela was declared a dependent of the court based on sustained allegations under section 300, subdivision (b) that she was at risk of suffering serious physical harm or illness as a result of mother's failure or inability to supervise or protect her adequately. The dependency court found, "this is a case in which it's clear that [mother] is unable to provide care for this child, not just based on her chronic run away behavior, but because for whatever reason she is unable to control, motivate and get her daughter to do things she needed to do, which I ...


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