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Name: In re Maricela H.
Case #: B238635
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 10/25/2012
Subsequent History: Review granted 1/3/2013: S206953

Minor was properly declared a dependent where mother’s failure to supervise caused minor to abuse drugs, run away, and engage in unprotected sex. The teenaged minor was abusing drugs, “associating with the wrong people,” fighting, not attending school, and had a baby at the age of 15. The baby lived with Mother, who called DCFS because the minor threatened to take the baby from mother’s care. Following placement in a group home, the minor ran away and assaulted two peers and a teacher. A petition was sustained under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, subdivision (b), which alleged that the minor was at risk due to mother’s failure to adequately supervise and protect her. Mother appealed, contending that substantial evidence did not support the section 300(b) finding, and that jurisdiction did not lie because there was no evidence that she was negligent or abusive. The court rejected the argument and affirmed. Parental fault is not required to establish dependency jurisdiction to protect a child who is at risk due to the parent’s failure or inability to supervise or protect. Although parental unfitness and detriment are required before the court may consider termination of parental rights, a finding of jurisdiction for dependency court is only a first and preliminary step allowing the court to assert supervision over the child’s care. Due process is not violated by a jurisdictional finding that the child is at risk due to the parent’s inability to supervise and protect.