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Name: In re Jessica C.
Case #: F051144
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/25/2007

The juvenile court erred by not considering maintenance services to help ill grandfather/caretaker prior to terminating guardianship and placing the minors in foster care. The grandparents were guardians to the teenaged minors for several years, and the minors were doing well and bonded to them. Subsequently the grandmother died, and grandfather experienced health problems which kept him from adequately supervising and protecting the minors. The juvenile court terminated the guardianship. On appeal, grandfather argued that it was error for the petition to terminate the guardianship to have been filed under section 388, instead of section 387. He also argued that the juvenile court erred by failing to consider whether providing services would have preserved the guardianship. The court agreed with both arguments. Section 387 controls when the termination of guardianship will lead to children being placed in foster care. The appellate court did not decide whether the error was harmless, however, because reversal was necessary on the second issue. Section 366.3 requires that maintenance services be considered before a guardianship is terminated. Here, there was no evidence that any services were made available to grandfather which could have allowed him to maintain the guardianship. The error cannot be considered harmless because the minors had a close bond with their grandfather, had lived in his home for many years, and wanted to stay with him. Further, there would be obvious difficulty in finding a permanent home for two teenagers.