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Name: In re A.G.
Case #: D071620
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/16/2017

Agency was not excused from providing reasonable services because father was deported to Mexico. Father was arrested and deported to Mexico following an assault on mother. In the subsequent dependency proceeding, father originally asked for reunification services, but then said he wanted the minors to stay in the U.S. with their mother and attempted to waive services. After speaking with an attorney, father decided to ask for reunification services because he wanted to be able to care for the children if their mother was unable. The court made a reasonable services finding, stating that it was the father’s fault the Agency could not provide services because he caused the situation that led to his deportation to Mexico. Further, the court stated that father had initially declined services. The appellate court reversed the reasonable services finding. A court may not rely on a parent’s uninformed statement about not wishing to receive services to curtail the parent’s right to such services. Father’s arrest and deportation to Mexico do not make the Agency’s failure to provide services reasonable. The Agency had represented it could provide discretionary services to father in Mexico, yet there was no evidence it assisted father in contacting the Mexican social services agency for service referrals or identified any available services that would comply with the case plan. Further, harmless error analysis does not apply to a reasonable services finding. An erroneous reasonable services finding may have consequences for the parent if the child is removed again from the other parent’s custody during the proceedings. The remedy for the failure to provide services to a parent is to provide additional services and to make a finding that reasonable services were not provided.