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Name: In re D.D.
Case #: C086808
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/20/2019

Sufficient evidence supported removing minors from mother on a 387 petition where mother continued inappropriate physical discipline with the minors and refused to allow the Department access to them. A dependency proceeding was initiated concerning the four minors in 2016 based on physical abuse and excessive discipline by mother. The juvenile court removed the minors and ordered reunification services. The children were eventually returned to mother in 2017, though they remained dependents. Shortly thereafter, there were two more emergency referrals for excessive discipline. Mother refused to allow the emergency response social worker to enter the home. The social worker also reported that she received a text message from one of the minors concerning inappropriate discipline, and begging the social worker to remove her from the home. The Department filed a supplemental petition under section 387 to remove the minors from mother’s custody. The court sustained the petition and the minors were removed. The court denied further reunification services, noting that mother had run out of time for reunification. On appeal, mother contended that insufficient evidence supported the court’s finding that returning the children to her care was ineffective in protecting them. The appellate court rejected that argument because the evidence showed that mother had used chili juice to punish one minor, put a bar of soap in another’s mouth, grabbed items from one minor, and had placed her foot on another. Further, mother refused to allow an emergency response social worker to investigate the multiple child abuse referrals received after the minors were returned. Based on the evidence presented, mother had made little progress since the initiation of the dependency. These findings served as the basis for sustaining the supplemental petitions and removal of the minors. Mother also contended that the facts were insufficient to show that the court’s prior placement order was not effective in protecting the children. She contended the acts were not abusive or harmful and that parents are permitted to physically discipline their children. The appellate court rejected this argument, finding that although each incident alone might not have rendered the prior placement ineffective, the court could consider the totality of mother’s inappropriate physical discipline methods, particularly given her history. That, combined with mother’s refusal to allow the Department access to the children, was sufficient to support the juvenile court orders. Substantial evidence also supported the finding that reasonable efforts had been made to prevent the need for removal, as mother was provided with extensive services.