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Name: In re J.E.
Case #: A147724
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/21/2016

The Department’s failure to provide a court-ordered psychological evaluation of the minor constituted a failure to provide reasonable services. A petition was sustained based on allegations that the 14-year-old minor was running away, contemplating suicide, and engaging in dangerous behaviors. A younger sibling also reported that she had been sexually molested by the minor. The minor remained in placement and the family participated in services, including therapy. At the 18-month review hearing, the court rejected the Department’s recommendation that reunification services be terminated. The court expressed concern about the Department’s failure to provide services specifically targeted at the sexual abuse allegation. Further, the Department had failed to have a complete psychological evaluation of the minor performed. In ordering services continued up to 24 months, the court ordered that the Department do the appropriate assessment on sexual offender treatment and to provide targeted services if suggested by the assessment. The Department appealed the order, contending that the court erred when it extended services based on a finding that reasonable services had not been provided. The appellate court rejected the Department’s argument and affirmed. Although significant services were provided, they were not tailored to the particular needs of the family. The Department conceded that a psychological assessment had not been completed, and that only generalized therapy was provided. A primary barrier to reunification was the molestation of the younger sibling, and that “core issue” had not been addressed. There was no abuse of discretion in the extension of services under these circumstances. Amendments made to Welfare and Institutions Code sections 361.5 and 366.22 do not restrict the court’s authority to extend services from 18 to 24 months upon a showing of good cause.