Termination of Reunification Services California

Under California dependency law, "Reunification services need not be provided to a parent . . . when the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence . . (10) That (A) the court ordered termination of reunification services for any siblings or half-siblings of the child because the parent . . . failed to reunify with the sibling or half-sibling after the sibling or half-sibling had been removed from that parent . . . or (B) the parental rights of a parent . . . over any sibling or half-sibling of the child had been permanently severed, and that, according to the findings of the court, this parent . . . has not subsequently made a reasonable effort to treat the problems that led to removal of the sibling or half-sibling of that child from that parent . . . . [or] . . . (12) That the parent . . . has a history of extensive, abusive, and chronic use of drugs or alcohol and has resisted prior treatment for this problem during a three-year period immediately prior to the filing of the petition that brought [the] child to the court's attention, or has failed or refused to comply with a program of drug or alcohol treatment described in the case plan required by Section 358.1 on at least two prior occasions, even though the programs identified were available and accessible." ( 361.5, subd. (b)(10), (12).) Thus, while California law strives to preserve or reunify families whenever possible, the Legislature has recognized "that it may be fruitless to provide reunification services under certain circumstances." (Deborah S. v. Superior Court (1996) 43 Cal. App. 4th 741, 750 [50 Cal. Rptr. 2d 858].) In In re David D. (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 941, the court found that reunification services beyond the 18-month limit were warranted where the juvenile court wrongly prohibited visitation between the mother and her children, thus failing to provide reasonable reunification services. (Id. at p. 953-955.) In In re Daniel G. (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 1205, the juvenile court found the services provided to the mother were "'a disgrace,'" but ordered services terminated because it believed it did not have the authority to extend them beyond the 18-month date. The appellate court held the juvenile court had the discretion to do so. "We find nothing in the legislative intent or the specific language of sections 366.22 or 366.26 which prohibits the court from extending the period for reunification services beyond 18 months from the child's detention where the agency responsible for providing these services has, in the court's opinion, failed to make a reasonable effort to provide those services." (Id. at pp. 1213-1214.) In In re Dino E. (1992) 6 Cal.App.4th 1768, the juvenile court failed to adopt a reunification plan for the father. Although the father was referred to a parenting class, the juvenile court found that "'nobody gave the father the map. He needed some direction. It wasn't there.'" (Id. at p. 1777.) Notwithstanding, the juvenile court ordered a selection and implementation hearing under section 366.26. the appellate court found the juvenile court had discretion to continue services beyond the 18-month deadline "where it was faced with the prospect that the 18 months had elapsed and no reunification plan had been developed for the parent . . . ." (Id. at p. 1778.)