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Name: Jennifer S. et al v. Superior Court (S.F. County)
Case #: A151627
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 10/02/2017
Summary

Juvenile court properly denied reunification services to parents who made partial late efforts to treat substance abuse problems. The infant minor was detained shortly after her birth due to the parents’ substance abuse and history of domestic violence. At the dispositional hearing, each parent was bypassed for reunification services under section 361.5 subdivisions (b)(10) and (b)(11). In a writ petition, parents argued that the juvenile court erred in finding they had not made reasonable efforts to treat their substance abuse issues. The appellate court disagreed and denied writ relief. Although mother had made laudable recent efforts to address her longstanding substance abuse, her efforts were extremely late. She did not enter a treatment program until three months after the minor’s birth and detention. She refused to admit she had used methamphetamine during the pregnancy until the contested hearing. Further, the social worker opined that mother was still in denial about the domestic violence. Likewise, father’s minimal efforts were not made until weeks before the contested hearing, and he persistently failed to comply with random drug testing. Mother also contended that even if the bypass provisions applied, reunification was in the minor’s best interest. The appellate court disagreed, noting that the juvenile court expressly concluded reunification was not in the minor’s best interest, given the parents’ long-term substance abuse history, lengthy criminal history, and failure to reunify with four older children despite previous reunification services. The court, however, took the opportunity to express its frustration at the state of the evidentiary record in this case and others, noting that the social worker should have thoroughly reviewed prior records, interviewed parents, and have been able to speak authoritatively as to why a parent has failed to make reasonable efforts.