Denying Further Reunification Services to a Mother in California

In Carolyn R. v. Superior Court (1995) 41 Cal.App.4th 159, the mother had received eight months of reunification services, followed by 10 months of family maintenance services while the children were placed in her care, followed by a second removal of the children under a section 387 petition. (41 Cal.App.4th at pp. 162-163.) The court, at disposition on the supplemental petition, found the mother had "exhausted the period for reunification," found reasonable services had been offered, denied mother's request for further reunification services, and set a hearing under section 366.26. (41 Cal.App.4th at p. 163.) The Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed, holding "once a court sustains a supplemental petition to remove a dependent child for a second time from a parent's physical custody, it may set the matter for permanency planning under section 366.26 if that parent received 12 or more months of reasonable child welfare services." (Id. at p. 162.) In other words, the proceedings do not return to "'"square one"'" with regard to reunification efforts. (Carolyn R., supra, 41 Cal.App.4th at p. 166; accord, G.W., supra, 173 Cal.App.4th at p. 1440; In re Steven A. (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 754, 765 case should not have been allowed to "take on a new life when the supplemental petition was filed".) A removal under section 387 does "not automatically trigger a new period of reunification services." (In re Barbara P. (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 926, 933 subsequent petition under 342.) The reason is rooted in "the state's interest in assuring that minors whose parents cannot provide them with a stable home have another opportunity for such a home life within a reasonable time." (30 Cal.App.4th at p. 934.) Thus, when the court removed the children from Mother's care based on the November 2014 section 387 petition, it did not trigger presumptive entitlement to a new series of reunification services for Mother under section 361.5, subdivision (a). And since Mother had no entitlement to services under section 361.5, subdivision (a), it was not necessary for the court to make bypass findings with respect to these children under section 361.5, subdivision (b). By erroneously considering the matter under section 361.5, the juvenile court used a more generous standard than that to which Mother was entitled. Specifically, it considered whether Mother had made a reasonable effort over the years to address the problems that led to the children's removal. ( 361.5, subd. (b)(10).) The court was not required to consider this factor at all, and even if it had found Mother had made a reasonable effort, that would not have entitled her to additional reunification services. And finally, even if section 361.5, subdivision (b)(10) had been applicable, the court's finding of no reasonable effort by Mother was supported by substantial evidence. (See A.A. v. Superior Court (2012) 209 Cal.App.4th 237, 242; R.T. v. Superior Court (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 908, 914; Cheryl P., supra, 139 Cal.App.4th at p. 96.)