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Name: In re S.G.
Case #: B330106
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/28/2024

Mother’s due process rights were not violated where the juvenile court failed to take into account her age and capacity for change at the section 366.26 hearing. Minor was removed from Mother, who was a dependent child herself when the proceedings were initiated. After 18 months of services, a section 366.26 hearing was set. Mother filed a section 388 petition asking the court to reinstate reunification services as she had been engaging consistently in services. The juvenile court denied the petition and proceeded to terminate Mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed and the reviewing court affirmed. At various points before a section 366.26 hearing, the law requires juvenile courts to give special consideration to teenaged parents. However, the purpose of the section 366.26 hearing is to begin the task of finding the child a permanent family. As such, the child’s interest must be given more weight than the parent’s. This shift of focus does not violate a parent’s due process rights. A parent’s youth does not change or lessen a child’s need for permanency and stability. The Eighth Amendment jurisprudence regarding juvenile offenders does not apply in the dependency context because the objectives and interests of the criminal justice system are vastly different from those of the juvenile dependency system.

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