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Name: In re Z.C.
Case #: A123994
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 10/02/2009

The juvenile court has authority to order reunification services to a legal guardian in order to maintain guardianship. Z.G. was appointed the guardian for the minor at a 366.26 hearing. At a review hearing years later, the department moved for a more restrictive placement. The court did not terminate the guardianship, but ordered reunification services to maintain it. The department appealed, challenging the court’s authority to order reunification services, contending that the court could only recommend that the department provide services. Z.G. argued that the plain meaning of section 366.3, subdivision (b) authorizes the court to order services if it determines that maintaining the legal guardianship with services is in the minor’s best interests. The appellate court rejected the department’s argument and affirmed the juvenile court’s order. The plain meaning of the statute confers the juvenile court with the authority to order reunification services to the legal guardian when, after considering the department’s report, it deems that such services are necessary and that keeping the minor in the guardian’s home is in the child’s best interests. The legislative history of the statute provides further support for that proposition. Further, the juvenile court did not violate the separation of powers doctrine when it ordered the department to provide services to the legal guardian.