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On July 2, 2014 the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency [hereinafter “DFCS or Department”] filed a petition pursuant to section 300 alleging that the mother of Anthony had neglected the child by failing to provide basic medical and dental care. The petition further alleged that the mother had an unresolved substance abuse problem which placed Anthony at risk of serious harm. (1CT 3-6.)
On July 8, 2014 the Agency filed its initial detention report. The Agency reported that the mother and children had been participating in a voluntary services plan with the Agency since May 2014, but the mother was not providing the children with proper medical care. (1CT 23.) The mother admitted to missing some medical appointments but stated things were hard and she had little help. Mother denied having a drug problem, but indicated that she used methamphetamines intermittently to manage her stress. (1CT 24.) Mother had been provided with informal supervision in 2013 following the death of one of her children. At that time, she had been provided with services to address substance abuse classes and grief issues surrounding the accidental death of her youngest child. (1CT 25.)
Mother had only recently been released from the county jail following an arrest for possession of methamphetamine. Mother indicated it was a real “wake-up call” and she wanted very much to remain clean and sober in order to care for her children. (1CT 36-37.) On July 8, 2014, the court detained Anthony pursuant to section 319 finding that reasonable efforts had been made to prevent or eliminate the need for detention. (1CT 116-120.)
The Agency filed its social study report on July 12, 2014 for a jurisdictional hearing which was set for September 30, 2014. The report stated that the allegation of medical neglect was corroborated by the child’s pediatrician who stated that multiple medical appointments had been missed and extensive dental work was being done on Anthony as his teeth had been neglected also. He required three root canals and was only 4 years old. (1CT 167.)
Mother’s substance abuse was documented through previous case referrals. Mother have birth to a child in 2013 and that child tested positive for methamphetamines at birth. Mother was offered voluntary case services, but did not participate. Further mother was again arrested for possession of methamphetamines and when additional services were offered, she declined to attend. (1CT 169.)
Of note was information that the mother had grown up in a very chaotic home. Both of her parents abused drugs and the family had 23 referrals for abuse or neglect in the County computer system. There was no information that mother went beyond the 6th grade as far as her education and she also had a documented learning disability in reading. (1CT 171.)
The Agency recommended that family reunification services be offered and noted that mother was able to engage all four children when she visited and she had strong family support. (1CT 175-176.)
On August 19, 2014, the Department submitted an addendum report. (2CT 242.) The mother was managing her visitation time with the children well, but had no reported for random drug testing and had been dropped from her substance abuse program for lack of attendance. Thus, the Department found that when mother was clean and sober, she was able to manage her children with affection and encouragement. But, she needed a substance abuse program and a relapse prevention program to ensure her ongoing sobriety. (2CT 244-245.)
On September 30, 2014 the court sustained an amended petition and found that the Department had complied with the Indian Child Welfare Act. [hereinafter, “ICWA”] The child Anthony was removed from his mother’s custody pursuant to section 361, subdivision (c) and placed in foster care with his sibling, Carlos. (2CT 278-279.) The Department was ordered to provide family reunification services for the mother which included her participation in substance abuse counseling, drug testing and parenting. Services were to include addressing mother’s unresolved childhood trauma and grief issues. (2CT 286.)
On December 4, 2014 the foster parents of Anthony filed a Request for De Facto Parent Status. (2CT 341.) They indicated that Anthony had extensive dental treatment including four root canals while in their care, was diagnosed with a lazy eye syndrome which required corrective lenses, suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and Attention Hyperactivity Disorder. They suspected he would have learning disabilities. (2CT 342.) The court set the de facto parent status request for an evidentiary hearing. (2CT 349.)
On January 21, 2015, the court granted the de facto parent status request. The court found that the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act had been complied with, and ICWA did not apply in this case for Anthony. (2CT 374.)
Six-Month Review Hearing
The Department provided notice to the parties for the six-month review hearing. The recommendation of DFCS was to terminate family reunification services for the mother. (2CT 378.) The report prepared for the hearing, confirmed that mother had spent a portion of the review period in the county jail. Mother had been released on her own recognizance after 10 days in jail, but had failed to appear for assessments and services available to her through the criminal court system. (2CT 386-387.) Mother was also not participating regularly in dependency court-ordered services. (2CT 399-400.)
The social worker opined that based on the significant losses that the mother had suffered and unresolved mental health issues, she had resorted to self-medication and this all negatively affected her ability to parent her child. (2CT 408.) An addendum report was filed on May 26, 2015 and the recommendation was changed. DFCS was now recommending that the mother receive her full twelve months of services. (2CT 443.)an who stated that multiple medical appointments had been missed and extensive dental work was being done on Anthony as his teeth had been neglected also. He required three root canals and was only 4 years old. (1CT 167.)
On September 30, 2014 the court sustained an amended petition and found that the Department had complied with the Indian Child Welfare Act. [hereinafter, “ICWA”] The child Anthony was removed from his mother’s custody pursuant to section 361, subdivision (c) and placed in foster care with his sibling, Carlos. (2CT 278-279.) The Department was ordered to provide family reunification services for the mother which included her participation in substance abuse counseling, drug testing and parenting. Services were to include addressi