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In re Nadia G.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

May 30, 2013

In re NADIA G., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
MARIA R., Defendant NADIA G., Appellant.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. CK82104, Elizabeth Kim, Juvenile Court Referee.

Patti L. Dikes, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant.

No appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent.

ALDRICH, J.

INTRODUCTION

Welfare and Institutions Code section 391[1] authorizes the juvenile court to terminate its jurisdiction over a nonminor dependent in foster care who is between the ages of 18 and 21, but only in three narrowly defined circumstances and only after the county welfare department has submitted a report containing recommendations and verifying it has provided the nonminor with certain information, documents, and services. (§ 391, subds. (b)-(e).) The juvenile court terminated its jurisdiction over Nadia G. (id., subd. (c)(1)(B)) and she appeals. We hold that the record supports the court’s findings that Nadia was not participating in a transitional independent living case plan (ibid.), one of the grounds for terminating jurisdiction. (§§ 366.32, subd. (a), 303, subd. (a), 391, subd. (c).) However, although ordered by the court to comply with the requirements of section 391, the Department of Children and Family Services (the Department) failed to file a section 391 report, with the result jurisdiction may not be terminated yet. (§ 391, subds. (b) & (e).) Accordingly, as it was premature, we reverse the order terminating jurisdiction.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

1. The dependency

The juvenile court declared Nadia a dependent in 2010 when she was 17 years old because her mother was unwilling and unable to provide parental care and supervision and her father had long ago left the family. (§ 300, subds. (b) & (g).) Nadia qualifies for special education, but has a history of truancy beginning when she was 14 years old. Hence, she has no high school credits. She started drinking alcohol at age 12. She was defiant and belligerent. Nadia had an infant and was pregnant with her second child when she was removed from her mother’s care. She gave custody of her first born to her mother.

The juvenile court ordered the Department, among other things, to enroll Nadia in counseling; to refer her to trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, a parenting program, and a substance abuse program, and to report on the status of her schooling.

2. Nadia’s dependency has been marked by instability and inconsistency interspersed with short periods of cooperation.

Throughout this dependency, Nadia would comply with the juvenile court’s requirements, the Department’s programs, and house rules for a time and then run away from her foster placement and return to her old behaviors. In her first placement, Nadia was rebellious and disrespectful and she refused to attend school. Her first foster parent wanted Nadia removed because of her misbehavior. Instead, Nadia ran away in September 2010, just months after the juvenile court assumed jurisdiction.

Although placement proved difficult because Nadia was pregnant, the Department next found her a bed at a home for girls. Nadia had difficulty adjusting to the group home’s rules, and within the first month she had run away twice and was involved in a physical altercation with another resident. Eventually, Nadia settled into the group home and began attending school and participating in many of her programs. Nadia’s second child was born in November 2010.

Only two months later, however, Nadia returned from an overnight visit with her mother a day late and intoxicated and had to be prompted several times to wake up to tend to her infant. When she failed to pick up her infant from a visit with the child’s father, the Department detained the baby. After the baby’s detention, Nadia began skipping school and staying in bed until late morning. She would go out in the evenings and on weekends, returning only to sleep or spend the day. She was arrested five months after the baby was born for assaulting and threatening staff at the group home. Upon her release from jail in early April 2011, she told her social worker she did not want the Department to find her another placement. Instead, she opted to stay with an unnamed friend and so the Department did not know her whereabouts for over a month.

Nadia finally contacted the Department from the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Precinct in May 2011 to announce she had been arrested for battery. By then, she was 18 years old and did not wish to return to her mother’s home, preferring to reunify with her ...


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