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Name: In re Hailey T.
Case #: D062807
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/19/2012

Removal of an older child from parents was reversed where there was no evidence she had suffered any harm despite injury to a younger sibling. Parents took infant minor Nathan to the hospital when they noticed an injury to his eye. Neither parent could explain how the injury occurred, but thought that their older child, Hailey, might have injured Nathan. One treating physician concluded that the injuries were accidental, but another found the injuries to be nonaccidental and opined that Hailey could not have inflicted them. The social worker reported that the parents were “good parents” and were actively participating in services but recommended removal because there was no identified perpetrator and the children were young. A petition was sustained, and the minors were removed. On appeal, the parents argued that the order removing Hailey was not supported by substantial evidence. The appellate court agreed and reversed. The record did not support a finding that there was a substantial danger to Hailey if she were returned home or that there were no less drastic alternatives to removal. Hailey was never a victim of abuse and suffered no harm. She was not an infant, and would be able to articulate any abuse. She attended school where she had regular contact with mandated reporters. Further, there was abundant evidence that the parents were “good parents,” and no evidence that they had inflicted abuse on Nathan. The juvenile court did not adequately consider alternatives to removal.