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Name: In re Yvonne W.
Case #: D052204
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 08/14/2008

The juvenile court erred by failing to return the minor to the home where the basis for detriment was based on the mother’s housing in a shelter. The mother appealed an order made at the 18-month review hearing continuing the minor’s placement in foster care as there was insufficient evidence that return of the minor to mother would be detrimental. Although the uncontroverted evidence showed that mother had completed her case plan and had been sober for more than a year, the juvenile court found detriment based on mother’s housing situation, namely that she was living in a shelter. The 11-year-old minor expressed unhappiness about living at the shelter, but there was no evidence that the conditions at the shelter posed a risk of harm in any identifiable way. The appellate court reversed the order and remanded. The mother’s limited resources which required her to live temporarily in a shelter was not a legitimate ground for finding detriment. Further, none of the other reasons cited, such as the minor’s incomplete IEP assessment or the mother’s lack of organizational skills warranted out-of-home placement. Even if the success of the minor’s transition to her mother’s care required addressing the deficiencies raised by the department, there were less drastic means by which they could be addressed. The appellate court further declined to dismiss the appeal as moot because the minor subsequently had been returned. The issues raised in the appeal are of continuing public importance because they challenge the juvenile court’s finding that a parent’s inadequate housing creates a substantial risk of detriment to a minor when there are no other issues warranting out-of-home placement.