California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, First Division
In re A.G. et al., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. SAN DIEGO COUNTY HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, Plaintiff and Respondent,
A.J., Defendant and Appellant.
from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County,
No. NJ15122ABC Blaine K. Bowman, Judge. Affirmed in part;
reversed in part.
Bachmann Gold, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for
Defendant and Appellant.
E. Montgomery, County Counsel, John E. Philips, Chief Deputy
County Counsel, Patrice Plattner-Grainger, Senior Deputy
County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
appeals from a 12-month review hearing at which the juvenile
court returned his children to their mother's care.
(Welf. & Inst. Code, § 366.21, subd.
(f).) He contends the court erred when it
found that he had been offered or provided reasonable
services. We agree and reverse the reasonable services
finding as to A.J. In all other respects, the findings and
orders are affirmed.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
and R.G. are the parents of three children, who are now ten,
nine and seven years old. In November 2011, A.J. was arrested
and deported to Mexico after he assaulted R.G. R.G. obtained
an order prohibiting A.J. from having contact with her and
A.J. was deported, the San Diego County Health and Human
Services Agency (Agency) investigated 13 child protective
services referrals on behalf of the children. The referrals
were largely related to R.G.'s alcohol use and failure to
supervise the children. In February 2013, October 2013, and
February 2014, the Agency substantiated allegations that R.G.
was neglecting the children. In October 2015, the Agency
detained the children in protective custody and initiated
dependency proceedings after an "extremely
intoxicated" R.G. was arrested and jailed on charges of
said she did not have contact information for A.J. The Agency
conducted a due diligence search for father in California,
but did not try to locate him in Mexico. In November 2015,
the court sustained the dependency petitions, removed the
children from parental custody, and ordered the Agency to
offer or provide reunification services to R.G.
April 14, 2016, A.J. telephoned the social worker to ask
about the children's welfare. He said R.G. had contacted
him through Facebook and told him about the children's
dependency proceedings. On April 18, A.J. told the social
worker he wanted custody of the children. He had not seen
them in approximately two years. The social worker sent a
copy of the petition and other paperwork to A.J., who was
living in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico.
9, A.J. told the social worker he wanted the children to be
placed with him and was willing to participate in
reunification services and "do whatever is needed to
have contact with the children." The Agency submitted a
request to the International Liaison to arrange a border
visit with the children at the Mexican Consulate. The Agency
asked the social services agency, Desarrollo Integral para la
Familia (DIF), to conduct an evaluation of A.J.'s home
and provide parenting education and domestic violence
prevention classes to him. At the six-month review hearing on
June 13, the court ordered the Agency to offer or provide
reasonable services to the parents, and to prepare a case
plan for A.J. by July 18.
19, A.J. told the social worker he wanted to have regular
contact with the children as often as possible. He had had
one visit with the children, with no concerns. The Agency
submitted a request for ongoing visitation to the Mexican
Consulate. However, A.J. withdrew his requests for a home
evaluation and reunification services after speaking to DIF.
He decided not to ask for placement because he was unable to
pay for the children's education in Mexico. A.J. believed
it was in their best interests to stay in the United States
to complete their education. The social worker advised A.J.
to speak with his attorney before waiving reunification
services. A.J. said he had not heard from his attorney and
asked the social worker to contact his attorney and give her
his telephone number, which the social worker did.
speaking with his attorney, A.J. asked the court to order the
Agency to provide reunification services to him. He wanted to
be able to care for the children if they did not reunify with
their mother. On July 25, the court ordered the Agency to
provide supervised visitation between A.J. and the children
at the international border, and prepare a case plan for A.J.
within 30 days.
August 19, the Agency submitted a case plan for A.J. to the
court. The case plan required A.J. to attend individual or
group counseling to address domestic violence, and
participate in a parenting education program.
October 24, the Agency reported it had sent a referral to DIF
to provide case plan services to A.J. DIF was unable to find
a domestic violence group and had not yet referred A.J. to a
parenting education program. The Agency was looking for
alternate service providers to locate services ...