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Name: In re Megan P.
Case #: B156286
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 09/25/2002
Subsequent History: None

Following their mother’s arrest in 1996, the four minors were placed in foster homes. The Department sporadically attempted to notify their father, but only in California, and using misspellings of his name. In March, 2001, the Department finally sent a request for information to the parent locator clerk at Child Support Services, which responded with father’s address (the same one he had since 1996). The Department contacted father, who advised that he had been looking for the children and thought they were with their mother. Meanwhile, the children were placed in prospective adoptive homes. Father was appointed counsel, who appeared at the 366.26 hearing and requested a continuance since he had not yet talked to father. The court denied the continuance and terminated parental rights. Here, the appellate court reversed the order as to the two children who had not yet been adopted. The Department has a constitutional obligation to exercise due diligence to notify a parent of the proceedings; here, the Department’s conduct was inexcusable. Father was entitled to a hearing and an opportunity to be heard.