In re R.C., 031519 CAAPP2, B289484
|Opinion Judge:||KIM, J.|
|Party Name:||In re R.C., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. S.C. et al., Defendants and Respondents.|
|Attorney:||Patricia Bell, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant R.C. Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel, Kristine P. Miles, Acting Assistant County Counsel, Jeanette Cauble, Principal Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Appellant Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Servi...|
|Judge Panel:||We concur: BAKER, Acting P. J.MOOR, J.|
|Case Date:||March 15, 2019|
|Court:||California Court of Appeals|
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County Ct. No. 17CCJP01130A Michael E. Whitaker, Judge.
Patricia Bell, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant R.C.
Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel, Kristine P. Miles, Acting Assistant County Counsel, Jeanette Cauble, Principal Deputy County Counsel, for Plaintiff and Appellant Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Minor R.C. and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (Department) appeal from the juvenile court's order dismissing a first amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 3001 petition. On appeal, R.C. contends that the juvenile court erred in failing to apply the correct standard in assessing substantial risk under subdivision (j) of section 300 and in failing to apply the “tender years” doctrine and substantial evidence did not support dismissal of the petition. The Department also contends the dismissal was not supported by substantial evidence and joins R.C.'s other arguments. We reverse.
At the end of August 2017, R.C. was born prematurely and admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at Centinela Hospital. R.C. had a negative toxicology screen. In early September 2017, the Department received an expedited referral alleging mother's general neglect.
A social worker responded to the hospital and spoke with the nurse in charge of R.C.'s care. The nurse stated she had seen mother the previous week when mother came to visit R.C. Mother had a strong smell of marijuana and cigarettes. The nurse had seen mother only a few times. Mother was informed that she needed to bring a car seat to the hospital to complete R.C.'s assessment, but mother did not comply. The hospital social worker made several unsuccessful attempts to contact mother about the car seat.
The nurse reported that R.C. had received some, but not all, of her immunizations. Before her immunizations could be completed, R.C. needed to gain weight-she was then under five pounds. Whomever R.C. was placed with needed to feed R.C. a specialized formula to help her gain weight. R.C. was released to the social worker.
Maternal aunt Jeanette H. told the social worker that “they” had attempted, unsuccessfully, to call mother to pick up R.C. Jeanette H. reported that mother “had been on the streets prostituting and doing drugs.” Mother did not have a stable residence and was living with a man she had met four months earlier.
Maternal aunt Joan H. told the social worker that mother, then age 21, had her first child at age 15 and a second child before giving birth to R.C. Family members adopted both of mother's two other children.2
Joan H. was willing to care for R.C. She and the family would ensure that R.C. was well cared for and safe and would be supportive and help mother reunify with R.C. Joan H. stated she had witnessed positive changes in mother during her pregnancy with R.C. In the latter part of the pregnancy, mother had stopped prostituting and using drugs.
On September 6, 2017, the social worker spoke with mother on the telephone. Mother said she was confused about what was going on and that she had been told the hospital would not discharge R.C. until R.C. gained more weight. Informed of statements concerning her drug use, mother admitted she used marijuana. The social worker asked mother if she was willing to take a drug test. Mother agreed.
After mother's drug test, 3 the social worker picked up mother. Mother stated when that she was 18 years old, she was “allowed” to meet her biological mother and that was when her life went downhill. “Mother reported that she was informed by her mother that she was sold for drugs, and that her mother allowed men to rape her.” She further reported that she was abused while in foster care.
Mother said she had made bad decisions and lost two of her children. She missed out on enjoying her teenage years because she had to care for her daughter. She was constantly tired and “could no longer do it, ” so she allowed her sister to adopt her daughter. Mother then had another child whom she also allowed to be adopted.
When the social worker and mother arrived at the motel where mother was staying and entered mother's room, the social worker immediately smelled marijuana and smoke. The social worker found it difficult to breathe and informed mother that because R.C. had been born prematurely, the air quality was not healthy for her. Mother said that she understood and had smoked marijuana and cigarettes outside after R.C. was born.
Mother said that during her pregnancy she had not used drugs or alcohol or smoked out of concern for R.C. Mother stated that she had not visited R.C. more often because she was recovering from a cesarean section. She had not picked up R.C. from the hospital because she believed R.C. would be there for a longer period of time.
Mother wanted to keep R.C. She said she met her boyfriend when she was five months pregnant. He told her that she could no longer be a prostitute if she wanted to stay with him. Mother's boyfriend “accept[ed]” R.C. and was working to provide for mother and R.C. Mother and he were saving money for an apartment. Mother was looking for work to help with expenses.
The following day, the social worker informed mother that a case would be opened. Mother said she would agree to R.C.'s placement in Joan H.'s home until mother completed services and was stable enough to care for R.C. The social worker noted that mother had not requested to see R.C. after she had been placed with Joan H. The social worker offered to facilitate a visit with R.C., but mother stated she would make the arrangements.
Mother's prior child welfare history included a 2014 referral alleging general neglect of her daughter N.C. Mother tested positive for marijuana when N.C. was born. Mother had received limited prenatal care and admitted smoking marijuana daily during her pregnancy. She said she did not know smoking marijuana during her pregnancy could harm her unborn child and seemed unconcerned when so informed. A case was opened concerning mother's marijuana abuse during her pregnancy with N.C. and her parental rights ultimately were terminated.
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