(Super. Ct. Nos. JU3515, JU3516)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Raye , P. J.
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
R. J., de facto parent and maternal grandmother of the minors, appeals from orders of the juvenile court terminating the dependency and placing the minors in guardianship. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 395 [further undesignated statutory references are to the Welf. & Inst. Code].) Appellant contends the order was made in the absence of expert testimony as required by the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.; ICWA), the court failed to permit her a contested hearing on placement, the court erred in declaring that her de facto parent status ended when the dependency terminated, and the court erred in refusing to order visitation for her. We affirm.
In December 2009 the Colusa County Department of Health and Human Services (Department) filed petitions to detain the two minors, Jesse, age 8, and Andrew, age 5, due to serious neglect of the minors' care by the parents. The minors are enrolled members of the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians (Wintun), and the family was living on the Wintun reservation. Appellant, who previously had cared for the minors in Colorado, in January 2010 filed a request for de facto parent status, which was denied. The juvenile court sustained the petitions, returned the minors to the parents, and ordered family maintenance services for them.
Following status review reports, which indicated that the parents were only nominally complying with the service plan, in August 2010 the court ordered the two minors detained and placed with the maternal grandfather. The parents voluntarily placed a younger sibling with the maternal grandfather on the same day. The court ordered family reunification services for the parents.
Shortly thereafter, appellant filed a second petition for de facto parent status and also requested placement of the minors. The social worker evaluated appellant's placement request, and received reports that appellant had neglected her teenaged son and his father physically abused him. The social worker further reported that the minors expressed fear of being placed with appellant and did not want visits with or telephone calls from her, although they would consider contact by letter. The social worker concluded that placement with appellant was not in the minors' best interests.
At the hearing, appellant dropped her request for placement and limited the petition to a request for de facto parent status. The court continued the matter to obtain information, stating that appellant was not currently a de facto parent and that placement in Colorado was not in the minors' best interests.
The minors' counsel filed reports describing their current placement. The reports stated that the minors' stability would be at risk if the maternal grandfather had to accommodate the maternal grandmother in the minors' lives (in light of the "bad blood" between the grandparents). Counsel did not object to de facto parent status. The social worker's report affirmed that the impression the minors did not have a positive bond with appellant remained accurate and stated that forcing visits would be detrimental to the minors. The tribe did not oppose de facto parent status for appellant but noted she was unlikely to have current information about the minors.
Following a contested hearing, the juvenile court granted de facto parent status to appellant, noting that it allowed her only to appear in court, not to have visits with or control over the minors.
A review report filed in February 2011 recommended maintaining the minors' placement with the maternal grandfather, terminating services to the parents, and setting a section 366.26 hearing. The parents did not appear at the review hearing, and the court granted their counsel's request to be relieved. The court then terminated services and set a section 366.26 hearing. Appellant requested visitation and consideration for placement. The court indicated she should file a petition and that she would be considered for placement just as anyone else would be considered, but observed that the ...