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Name: In re M.W.
Case #: E068981
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 08/30/2018

The foster mother’s status as a former caregiver did not disqualify her home as a supervised independent living placement. Dependency jurisdiction over the 19-year-old nonminor dependent, M.W., was terminated by the juvenile court in August, 2017. The juvenile court terminated jurisdiction over M.W. because he had moved in with a former foster parent, and the court believed that a former caregiver’s home did not qualify as a “supervised independent living placement” (SILP). On appeal, M.W. contended that the juvenile court erred because he wanted to remain in extended foster care and living with a former caregiver did not automatically disqualify his living arrangement as a SILP. The appellate court agreed that the court erred because it based its order on a misunderstanding of the law. Nothing in the law disqualifies a former caregiver’s home as a SILP. A court abuses its discretion when it misapplies the law. The error was not harmless. It is reasonably probable that M.W. would have obtained a more favorable result had the court realized that the caregiver’s status did not disqualify her home. It is clear from the court’s comments on the record that although it believed the caregiver did not qualify, it would reconsider if the minor was able to find a SILP placement. The appellate court reversed and remanded, instructing that the juvenile court should consider whether to retain or terminate dependency jurisdiction given that the caregiver’s home was not disqualified as a SILP.