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Name: Patricia W. v. Del Norte County
Case #: A146378
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/28/2016

The trial court’s findings that adequate reunification services were provided to parents with mental health issues was not supported by substantial evidence. The two-year-old minor was removed from his parents when mother ran out of her medication and experienced a relapse of schizophrenic episodes. A petition was sustained and the minor was removed from both parents. He was removed from mother due to her mental illness and failure to properly take her medication, and from the father because of a concern that he was in denial about the gravity of mother’s mental illness and therefore would not protect the minor from his mother. Following six months of reunification services, the juvenile court terminated services and set a 366.26 hearing. The parents petitioned for extraordinary relief, which the appellate court granted. There was no evidence the Agency sought to diagnose mother’s mental illness and medication needs as a part of a case plan. There was no effort to ascertain whether mother’s medication could be more effectively monitored and managed to avoid another relapse. The Agency got court approval for a psychiatric exam in order to potentially bypass services, but not to facilitate services for either parent. There was no support provided to father to explore the option of parenting the minor alone should mother not be able to manage her mental illness. Since neither parent was provided reasonable services, the juvenile court erred in terminating services and declining to continue the case for another six months.