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Name: Los Angeles County v. Superior Court (Sencere P.)
Case #: B175832
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 01/28/2005

The minor was in long term foster care with her maternal grandmother, who moved with her on an emergency basis to grandmother’s parents’ home following an incident of domestic violence. DCFS removed the minor, and then returned her to the grandmother prior to the completion of a records check which revealed that two of the residents of maternal grandmother’s new home had felony convictions. DCFS sought writ review, contending that Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.4 requires a criminal records check of all adults living in the home of a relative caretaker before a dependent child can be placed in the home. Even though the matter had become moot (DCFS removed the minor from the home), the appellate court addressed the issue, as emergency movement of a relative caretaker from one home to another is an issue likely to recur. The court agreed with DCFS that the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction to place the minor in that home until fingerprint clearance checks disproved the relatives’ convictions or DCFS granted an exemption. Placement of the minor in the new home violated the prohibition of section 361.4, which require approval of the home or issuance of an exemption before the child is placed in the home.