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Name: Maggie S. v. Superior Court
Case #: B247306
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/16/2013

Parental rights termination was reversed where court should not have taken custody of minor since incarcerated mother had made arrangements for care. Mother gave birth to A.C. while in prison, so she designated relatives to care for the child until her release. Respondent filed a dependency petition on A.C.’s behalf alleging mother’s arrangements were inappropriate because maternal relatives said they would not take the minor. Mother also had a history of substance abuse and criminal conduct and had failed to reunify with the minor’s siblings. The juvenile court removed the minor from mother and set a Welfare and Institutions Code section 366.26 hearing. Mother’s parental rights were subsequently terminated, releasing A.C. for adoption by her foster parents. Mother appealed the finding of jurisdiction, disposition, and the setting of the section 366.26 hearing. The appellate court construed mother’s appeal as a writ because the juvenile court failed to orally advise her that an order setting a section 366.26 hearing is only reviewable by extraordinary writ. It also reversed the jurisdictional findings. Contrary to respondent’s representations, one of the care providers mother designated had told the social worker she was willing to care for the minor. Mother did not have to prove the suitability of the care provider, and, even if this initial placement didn’t last, mother could have been located to make other arrangements. The fact the care provider’s foster care license had been revoked did not establish there was a substantial risk the minor would suffer harm in the care provider’s home.