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Name: In re P.C.
Case #: G039898
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/23/2008

Poverty alone is not a sufficient reason to terminate a mother’s parental rights. During the dependency proceedings, the only detriment to returning the children to the mother’s care and custody was her inability to obtain housing which was acceptable to the department. The mother found a series of living situations, but the children could not be returned to her because other adult residents failed or refused to participate in live scan tests, or were determined to have criminal records. The department failed to assist the mother in finding appropriate housing, and parental rights were eventually terminated. The appellate court reversed the termination order, finding that poverty alone, even when it results in homelessness or less than ideal housing arrangements, is not a sufficient ground to deprive a mother of her parental rights. Remand was required with directions to conduct a hearing to address whether legally sufficient grounds independent of poverty currently existed such that it would be detrimental to place the children in mother’s care. If no such grounds exist, reunification services should be reinstated including assistance in obtaining low-income housing to reunify the family.