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Name: In re Shirley K.
Case #: D047554
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/05/2006

Paternal grandparents and de facto parents of the minor appealed the denial of their 388 petition which sought to reinstate placement of the minor in their home, or in the alternative, liberal unsupervised visitation. The minor had been placed with the grandparents almost since birth and was attached to them. Parental rights had been terminated. The minor was removed from the grandparents’ custody due to a sibling in the home’s use of methamphetamine, and the social worker’s opinion that grandfather had an alcohol dependence issue. The trial court concluded that the Department had not abused its discretion when it removed the minor, and that it was “irrelevant” whether the court agreed with their decision. The appellate court held that the lower court’s orders under section 388 were appealable. Further, the trial court’s role in reviewing the Department’s action was not as limited as it concluded. The trial court, when reviewing a child’s placement after termination of parental rights must assess the Department’s placement within the context of the minor’s best interests. Here, the court did not do so, and the record supports a conclusion that the Department abused its discretion when it failed to consider the grandparents’ remedial efforts in light of the minor’s significant bond with her grandparents. Therefore, reversal and remand were required to determine whether the minor’s interest is served by an order returning her to her grandparents’ care or, in the alternative, by a grant of liberal visitation.