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In re Taylor J.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, First Division

February 21, 2014

IN RE TAYLOR J., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law.
Janet W., Defendant and Appellant. Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Plaintiff and Respondent,

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Mark A. Borenstein, Judge. Reversed. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. CK87897)


Linda J. Vogel, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

John F. Krattli, County Counsel, James M. Owens, Assistant County Counsel, Stephen D. Watson, Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Janet W. (Mother) appeals from an order terminating reunification services for her and her 15-year-old daughter, Taylor J. The sole issue is whether substantial evidence supports the court's finding that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) provided adequate reunification services to the family. ( Melinda K. v. Superior Court (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 1147, 1158, 11 Cal.Rptr.3d 129.) [1] We conclude that the court's finding is not supported by substantial evidence.


In August 2011, the juvenile court adjudicated 13-year-old Taylor a dependent of the court after finding that Taylor's mother and her stepfather, Joseph P. " have a history of engaging in violent altercations, in [Taylor's] presence" ; that Joseph P. " was frequently under the influence of alcohol during these altercations; that on one occasion Joseph struck Taylor in the face inflicting bruises and scratches; and that Mother failed to protect Taylor from Joseph." The court placed Taylor in foster care and ordered DCFS to provide Mother and Taylor with family reunification services. As part of its case plan the court ordered Mother to participate in DCFS-approved counseling including a " domestic violence support group" and " conjoint counseling" with Taylor if recommended by Taylor's counselor. The court ordered DCFS to make " low cost" or " no cost" referrals for counseling.

A month prior to the adjudication hearing, DCFS gave Mother two referral lists, one of the lists identified an agency in Duarte (near Monrovia where Mother lived) that provided " domestic violence services." The other list was seven years old and did not list any counseling agencies near Mother's home. Neither list included agencies that offered individual counseling for adults. The record contains no evidence that Mother attempted to contact any of these agencies except for the Pacific Clinic discussed below.

At the six-month review hearing held in April 2012, the court received a Status Review Report from DCFS stating that Mother " will explore enrolling in [a] domestic violence program at the Chicana Service Action Center." The record does not reflect the result of that exploration. The report also stated that the DCFS worker will follow up with Mother's therapist at Pacific Clinic regarding his credentials and, if appropriate, his assessment [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 151] regarding Mother's need to attend Al-Anon. Mother's complaint that she did not have the money to pay for parenting classes or individual and conjoint therapy was rejected by the DCFS worker who pointed out in her report that Mother sent Taylor $30 a week and " over $300 for Christmas." DCFS also submitted a form signed by Mother acknowledging that she had been provided with referrals for domestic violence counseling. The record contains one such referral. Its date is illegible. The hearing was continued to May 2012 for further evidence and argument. After several more continuances the hearing was held in October 2012.

At the October 2012 hearing, the court admitted in evidence DCFS reports dated April 5, May 22, and July 20, 2012. Each report stated that Mother was " non-compliant" with the court's counseling requirements.

The April 5 report asserted that Mother was not in compliance with the counseling component of her case plan. Mother reported that she completed counseling at Pacific Clinic but DCFS had been unable to confirm that claim with the agency. In addition DCFS reported that it had not received any information from Mother as to her participation in a domestic violence support group and an Al-Anon program.

In the May 22 report DCFS advised the court that Mother was not in compliance with her counseling requirements. The Pacific Clinic program she attended was not a therapeutic program but a two-session program " focusing on removing barriers to gainful employment and school." The domestic violence program Mother claimed to be attending was not acceptable to DCFS because it was an online program and, in any event, DCFS had been unable to verify Mother's participation in the program. Again, DCFS claimed it had received no information that Mother was participating in an Al-Anon program.

The July 20 DCFS report stated that Mother was not complying with the court's counseling requirements because she reported that she was not participating in counseling, not participating in a domestic violence ...

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