Jamie A. Moran, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant. Michelle E. Danley, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent. Daniel C. Cederborg, County Counsel, Brent C. Woodward, Deputy County Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. (Fresno Super. Ct. No. 17CEJ300007-1)
THE COURT APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Fresno County. Gary L. Green, Temporary Judge. (Pursuant to Cal. Const., art. VI, § 21.) Jamie A. Moran, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Appellant. Michelle E. Danley, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Respondent. Daniel C. Cederborg, County Counsel, Brent C. Woodward, Deputy County Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Before Detjen, Acting P.J., Franson, J. and DeSantos, J.
Fresno County Department of Social Services (department) filed a Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition on behalf of the minor, H.F., after her stepfather took nude photographs of her and sold them to an online child pornography site. After reunification services were provided to A.C. (mother), the juvenile court returned the minor to mother's custody and terminated the dependency case over the objections of minor's counsel and her CASA advocate. We affirm.
References to code sections are to the Welfare and Institutions Code unless otherwise specified.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 10, 2016, the department received a referral alleging general neglect by mother and sexual abuse by stepfather of the minor. The FBI had been monitoring stepfather's activities because he was "selling child porn online" and the FBI and Clovis Police Department conducted an investigation. Stepfather confessed to secretly taking pictures of the 11-year-old minor with his cell phone and selling them online. He also admitted to taking photos of a five-year-old niece that visited the home. Stepfather acknowledged he downloaded child porn from a website and enjoyed viewing child pornography, including pornography depicting children having sexual intercourse.
Stepfather was not arrested at that time and the FBI investigation continued, but the department was notified. Upon learning of the allegations, mother's initial reaction was to have the minor "sleep at a friend's home" while stepfather remained in the family home. Mother was worried about where stepfather would sleep if he left the family home.
As of August 17, 2016, the minor was unaware of stepfather's conduct and did not report any concerning information when interviewed. As of September 6, 2016, stepfather had not been arrested because the FBI still was conducting an ongoing investigation. Also on that date, Clovis police conducted a welfare check and determined it appeared stepfather had moved out of the family home.
On September 13, 2016, the department had mother complete a staffing sheet. Mother stated she understood the department's concerns and that protecting her daughter was her primary concern. It was her plan to divorce stepfather; she would not allow stepfather into the family home; and she would not allow stepfather to have any contact with the minor. Subsequently, the department closed the referral.
Second Referral and Detention
On January 5, 2017, the department received a report that stepfather was again living in the family home. The FBI informed the department that it was still investigating stepfather.
A department social worker and Clovis police went to the family home on January 5, 2017. Stepfather answered the door and the social worker and police spoke with mother and stepfather about the new allegations of stepfather moving back into the home. Mother was "defensive" and stated stepfather had been back in the home for a "few weeks" because he had nowhere else to go. The social worker informed mother that according to her Facebook posts, stepfather had been in the home since October 2016 and mother was now pregnant with stepfather's child.
Mother was "irritated" and stated, "what happened with them was no one else's business" and she wanted people to "think everything was normal." Mother explained that minor was still unaware of stepfather's conduct and she was going to keep it that way. But mother explained that when stepfather returned home, there were strict rules to keep him from being alone with minor, which she described in detail. According to mother, minor was aware of these rules and was abiding by them. Mother said she "would make sure [minor] is safe."
Mother also stated that she and stepfather had been attending group therapy, since August, for recovering addicts of a sexual addiction. Mother and stepfather provided the contact information for the therapist.
The social worker then asked to speak to the minor alone, but mother objected. The police officer and social worker insisted that the minor be alone with the social worker and mother eventually relented, but was allowed to listen outside the door.
The minor, now 12 years of age and in the seventh grade, denied any sexual abuse and told the social worker that her mother said the earlier case was closed and stepfather was allowed back into the home, but that mother told her "nothing was going to be the same." She described the new rules her mother had given her and that she was not to be alone with stepfather. She said she did not feel uncomfortable around stepfather and that they were never home alone, although there was one occasion where they were together in her room for a few minutes, at her request, when her mother asked them to separate. The minor also reported that when she awoke at night, she saw stepfather a few times as she went to use the restroom, while mother was asleep.
The social worker and a police officer informed mother that a section 300 hold was being placed on the minor and that the minor was being taken into protective custody. Mother was upset and stated she would have stepfather move out; the social worker rejected this as mother had failed to keep stepfather out of the home after previously promising to do so. A section 300 hold was placed on minor and she was taken to her maternal grandmother's home during the evening of January 5, 2017.
On January 6, 2017, the social worker spoke again with mother. Mother said stepfather would be moving out and had an appointment that day to look at another apartment.
Section 300 Petition and Detention
A section 300 petition was filed on January 9, 2017, alleging the minor was at substantial risk of suffering harm because mother failed to adequately protect the minor. At the January 10 detention hearing, the minor was removed from mother's custody; mother was allowed supervised visits with the minor; and there was to be no contact between the minor and stepfather. The minor was placed with her maternal grandmother, where she had lived for her first eight years. Mother wanted to maintain contact with stepfather, as she was pregnant with his child, and wanted to eventually have stepfather live with her and the minor.
As of February 9, 2017, mother had been participating in supervised visits with the minor and visits had gone well.
At the March 9, 2017, jurisdiction hearing, mother signed a waiver of rights and submitted the matter on the social worker's reports and other information in the file. The juvenile court found the allegations of the petition true.
In the March 9, 2017, disposition report, the department stated that mother and stepfather had married in May 2016. Although mother currently was not living with stepfather, she was in regular communication with him and pregnant with his child. The FBI notified the department that stepfather had been arrested in February 2017 and was released on house arrest with an ankle monitor. He faced several years in prison if convicted. One of the conditions of release was that he not be around any minor children. Stepfather was residing with mother's father.
According to the social worker, mother understands why minor was removed, but has not fully acknowledged her role in the minor's removal from the home. Mother was willing to participate in parenting classes and mental health services. Mother wanted to reunify with the minor, but also wanted stepfather to be a part of the family in the future. Mother appeared to be worried about raising stepfather's child without stepfather, and did not want to tell the minor about stepfather's conduct until the minor was 16 or 17 years old.
In the March 30, 2017, addendum report, the department opined that mother did not come within the provisions of section 361.5, subdivision (b)(17), as it appeared she did not participate in, or have prior knowledge of, the sexual exploitation of her daughter. Mother claimed she "did not fully read the [September 13, 2016] staffing sheet she had signed" where she verified she would obtain a divorce from stepfather and not allow him into the home. Mother claimed she allowed stepfather back into the home because she was unable to afford to live there without his financial support. The department opined that mother "appeared to struggle with taking full accountability for her actions" and was not sure if or when she would divorce stepfather.
The disposition hearing was held on March 30, 2017. The juvenile court declared the minor a dependent of the court; removed the minor from mother's custody; and placed the minor with her maternal grandmother. The juvenile court ordered reunification services provided to mother, including parenting classes and a mental health evaluation and any recommended treatment.
The status review report filed September 14, 2017, recommended continuing reunification services for mother for another six months. The department anticipated allowing extended visits with the minor in the near future. Mother was living with her brother, while the minor remained with the maternal grandmother. Mother had completed a parenting class and was attending weekly therapy sessions. Mother had finally told the minor that stepfather took nude photos of her, but denied to the minor that stepfather sold the photos online, despite stepfather's admission.
Stepfather had moved from mother's father's home to the home of one of his relatives. Mother would not commit to divorcing stepfather, but did commit to not allowing the stepfather to be around the minor. Mother's therapist felt mother had met her treatment goals at this time. The minor had also been participating in individual weekly therapy sessions, which the therapist felt could soon be terminated.
In the review report, the department also opined that mother "continued to struggle with accepting the things that her husband" did to the minor and appeared to be excusing his behavior at times, claiming stepfather had a "sexual addiction" and there was no "proof" he sold photos of the minor online. The department expressed concern with mother's willingness and ability to protect the minor from stepfather and recommended continued reunification services. The department believed mother "still ha[d] some work to do" to fully accept the actions of stepfather and mother's own role in the minor's removal from the home.
At the September 14, 2017, six-month review hearing, the juvenile court found that mother had made "significant" progress toward alleviating the problems that led to the minor's removal and ordered that continued reunification services be provided.
Extended Visit Report/Hearing
The department filed an extended visit report and scheduled a hearing for November 16, 2017, to consider terminating reunification services and dismissing the dependency case. The extended visit report noted that mother had completed her parenting and therapy; was attending stepfather's court hearings, but had reduced her contact with stepfather; and had obtained a part time job, with the goal of moving out of the grandmother's home. The report concluded that "[mother] has demonstrated that she is willing and able to protect [minor], and will not allow [her] around [stepfather] again." The report recommended that reunification services be terminated and the case dismissed.
The minor's CASA advocate filed a report on November 13, 2017. The advocate noted that the minor had her own room in the maternal grandmother's home, which included pictures of her stepfather on the bedroom walls. The minor appeared to be happy in the home and enjoyed having friends over to the home. Mother was now also living in the home. All three adults in the home, mother, grandmother and step-grandfather, all appeared to have loving and good relationships with the minor.
The advocate expressed concern that mother was still very attached to stepfather and had several photos of him, including their wedding picture, on the walls of the home. The advocate also expressed concern that the minor "may have not learned how to protect herself from possible sexual abuse in the future." The advocate also was concerned that the minor "has not fully dealt with her feeling about what happened to her by her stepfather...." The CASA advocate was concerned that the minor and her mother "still care for" stepfather.
The November 16, 2017, hearing was continued. At the continued hearing on December 14, 2017, the matter was set for a contested hearing. On that date, the 12-month review hearing was set for January 23, 2018. The minor's attorney filed a statement of contested issues, objecting to a termination of the dependency and requesting that family maintenance services be continued. Counsel argued that there was no statutory authority to dismiss a case at the 12-month review hearing under section 366.21, subdivision (g); the only section available for dismissal was 361.
Minor's counsel argued that mother still lacked insight into the risk stepfather posed to the minor; mother had yet to commence any divorce proceedings; and the minor indicated she wanted to do whatever made mother happy, even if that meant allowing stepfather back into the home. Minor also indicated that if stepfather were to harm her again, she would not rely on mother to protect her, she would call a friend or the police.
Contested 12-Month Review Hearing
The contested review hearing was held on February 1, 2018. Initially, minor's counsel asked the juvenile court to continue the dependency and provide family maintenance services, with a further review hearing at which time termination of the dependency could be considered. Minor's counsel argued that at the end of the initial referral, mother had committed to divorcing stepfather; had yet to take any steps to initiate a divorce; and exhibited "a major emotional attachment to a person who victimized her daughter terribly, and that attachment continues to pose a risk to the minor to this day."
The department submitted on its report. The juvenile court framed the issue as a 12-month review hearing under section 366.21. Minor's counsel argued that section 366.21, subdivision (g) did not authorize a dismissal of the dependency case and that section 364, subdivision (c) is not applicable to a 12-month review. The department maintained the juvenile court could return the minor to mother's custody and dismiss the case at a 12-month review hearing under section 364, subdivision (c).
The juvenile court stated that the issue before it was whether to return the minor to mother's custody and dismiss the dependency, or continue with family maintenance services. At minor's counsel's urging, the parties agreed that in order to dismiss the dependency at a 12-month review hearing, the juvenile court would have to do a section 390 analysis.
The CASA advocate for the minor was called to testify by minor's counsel. The advocate testified that in September 2017 during a home visit, the minor pointed out pictures of her and her stepfather on the wall of her bedroom. In a conversation the advocate had with mother and grandmother that day, they were inquiring about the status of stepfather's criminal case and claiming there was no evidence stepfather had sold pictures of the minor online. The advocate opined that mother and grandmother were defending stepfather. The advocate responded that her focus was on the minor and that was on whom mother and grandmother should focus.
The advocate visited the minor at her home once a month. The advocate found the minor "very guarded" and "private." The minor was referring to her stepfather as "Dad." When the advocate asked the minor about her stepfather, the minor stated, "[I]t wasn't his fault" and "she forgave him." When the minor was notified of an upcoming court hearing, she would indicate, " 'I just want it to be over.' "
The social worker also was called to testify by minor's counsel. The social worker testified that in August 2016 an agreement had been reached with mother to allow the minor to remain in mother's custody; there were three conditions mother was to meet. The three conditions were that mother divorce stepfather, not allow stepfather back into the home, and not allow stepfather to have access to the minor. Mother violated all three terms of the agreement. The social worker agreed that an untrustworthy parent posed a concern that they would not be honest with the police or department if a second incident were to occur and that this posed a risk to the child.
The social worker also testified that mother's untrustworthiness, when she lied to the department about when stepfather moved back into the home, increased the risk to the minor. The social worker also opined that when a parent is in denial about what happened to their child, it increases the risk to the child. The social worker also acknowledged that mother was fully aware that stepfather admitted selling nude photos of the minor online, but mother continued to claim there was no evidence stepfather sold the photos.
The social worker reiterated again that a custodial parent maintaining an emotional bond with a perpetrator like stepfather, and minimizing or being in denial about the perpetrator's behavior, increases the risk to the child. The reason was that the custodial parent can allow their feelings to overcome their judgment in protecting their child. One of the things that can minimize the risk is by having the custodial parent "cut ties" with the perpetrator, which is why the department wanted mother to divorce stepfather.
After the CASA advocate notified the department that mother and grandmother had pictures of stepfather in the home, the social worker visited the home. Mother and grandmother showed the social worker blank spaces on the walls where the pictures of stepfather had been removed. The social worker also testified that having stepfather in mother's father's home (until the previous July 2017) on house arrest increased the risk to the minor. Mother's therapist reported to the social worker that mother was seeing stepfather "more than necessary" during the time stepfather was residing with mother's father. The social worker told mother not to have any contact with stepfather.
The department's report filed January 23, 2018, indicated mother no longer had contact with stepfather; the source of that information was mother and had not been independently verified. The social worker testified that a child wanting to acquiesce to mother's wishes could "sometimes" increase the risk to the child. The social worker acknowledged that a child who did not trust her mother or grandmother to protect her was at increased risk.
On cross-examination, the social worker stated mother had indicated she did not yet proceed with a divorce because her focus was on obtaining custody of the minor and mother has been "very overwhelmed with everything going on," including the loss of her baby. The minor was provided therapy and had met the therapeutic goals. Mother also was discharged by her therapist.
The social worker opined that mother had made significant progress since January 2017. The social worker did not believe the minor was at risk because she felt mother was protective, grandmother was "especially protective," and with mother and the minor living in grandmother's home, the social worker was confident grandmother would not "let anything happen." The social worker also felt the minor was old enough to express any concern about stepfather and not be "forced to go and see him." The minor had told the social worker she did not want to see stepfather.
In response to questions from the court, the social worker stated that in assessing whether there was a substantial risk to the minor if placed in mother custody, the social worker looked at the minor's age and current living arrangements. The minor felt very safe and happy in her grandmother's home and was "old enough to not put herself into an unsafe situation." The social worker opined that there was "no risk" to the minor in the home.
On redirect examination, the social worker testified that mother was exhibiting an emotional attachment to stepfather two months ago, but opined that the risk to the minor "has disappeared." The social worker did not believe there was a strong emotional bond anymore between mother and stepfather.
At the conclusion of testimony, minor's counsel argued that if the case were dismissed, "mom would go running back" to stepfather and the minor "will not get in her way if she does," placing the minor at "huge risk." Mother's counsel opined that mother is not "perfect," but has been working on "issues" since the "beginning." Mother's counsel also pointed out that the minor "wants this to be over" and the social worker believed the minor was no longer at risk. The department's counsel argued that the social worker believes "there is no detriment to return."
Juvenile Court Ruling
In ruling, the juvenile court noted the minor was in a home that included mother, grandmother, and stepgrandfather, and there was no evidence to show the minor was unsafe in that environment. The juvenile court noted the minor was doing quite well in school and had been discharged from therapy. The juvenile court found there was no evidence of "recent meaningful contact" between mother and stepfather. Mother completed parenting classes and therapy.
The juvenile court found that a "preponderance of the evidence, and then some, suggests that the mother and the extended family will protect this minor and at a minimum, the minor can protect herself." The juvenile court found that mother had made progress during the case, despite her "lack of candor" in the beginning of the case. The juvenile court also found that even though mother had minimized stepfather's conduct, that did not preclude "allowing the minor to remain in the home." The juvenile court was not convinced that keeping the court and department "entwined in the life of this family is going to have any beneficial effect." The court noted that the social worker testified that (1) she did not currently assign a risk to having the minor return home; (2) mother and grandmother were protective of the minor, especially grandmother; (3) minor is old enough to protect herself; and (4) based on her review, minor had not been seeing stepfather.
Following the proscriptions of section 366.21, subdivision (e)(1), the juvenile court accepted and adopted the department's recommendations and findings. The juvenile court found that mother had made significant progress toward alleviating the cause of the dependency case and that returning the minor to mother's custody would not cause a substantial risk of detriment to the minor.
Following the language of section 390, the juvenile court also found that "the interest of justice" and the "welfare of the minor" justifies and requires dismissal. The court found no further need for treatment for mother or the minor.
The juvenile court terminated reunification services and ordered the minor returned to the custody of the mother. According to the reporter's transcript, termination of the dependency was based upon section 390, "in the interests of justice, this case is warranted for dismissal ... the welfare of the minor justifies and requires dismissal." According to the signed order terminating dependency, it dismissed the matter under section 364, subdivision (c) finding that conditions justifying the initial assumption of jurisdiction no longer existed and court supervision of the minor in care of mother was no longer necessary. The juvenile court also ordered that there be "absolutely no contact between the minor and the stepfather."
On February 5, 2018, minor's counsel filed a notice of appeal.
This appeal was filed on behalf of the minor. The minor contends the juvenile court erred in dismissing the dependency case. Both mother and the department assert the juvenile court properly terminated the dependency proceeding.
The review report for the hearing submitted by the department recommended termination of the dependency pursuant to section 364, subdivision (c) and requested an order dismissing the case pursuant to that section. The notice for the hearing checks the box identified as "OTHER TRIAL" and states the social worker is seeking dismissal of the dependency. No code section is specified in the notice.
At the hearing, at the prodding of minor's counsel, the parties agreed the juvenile court should do a section 390 analysis to dismiss the case. However, the juvenile court also accepted the department's recommendations at the hearing. The juvenile court also made findings using the language of section 390, but did not specify any code section when making its ruling during the hearing. The juvenile court's signed, written order terminating the dependency case states it is based upon section 364, subdivision (c).
Section 390 provides that the juvenile court may dismiss the petition if the court finds that the interests of justice and the welfare of the minor require the dismissal, and the parent is not in need of treatment or rehabilitation. California Rules of Court, rule 5.695(a), provides that the court may, at disposition, dismiss the petition with specific reasons stated in the minutes, per section 390. (See In re Carl H. (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1019, 1038-1039 [juvenile court sustained petition alleging mother's role in the death of minor's sibling, the court declared him a dependent, but then immediately dismissed the petition with order that his father have custody. Court questioned, but stated it did not need to resolve the issue, whether California Rules of Court, rule 5.695 authorized the court to dismiss a petition once it declared the child a dependent of the court.].)
Section 390 is the standard for setting aside jurisdictional findings and dismissing a petition. (In re Carl H., supra, 7 Cal.App.5th at pp. 1038-1039.) The section 390 test, however, is inapplicable after disposition, when at a 12-month review, a juvenile court terminates jurisdiction without negating the petition or jurisdictional findings, as was the case here. (In re Natasha H. (1996) 46 Cal.App.4th 1151, 1156.) Section 390 is therefore not relevant to this case. As outlined below, section 364, subdivision (c) is the applicable statute.
A juvenile court need not identify its authority to terminate jurisdiction in a dependency case where sufficient evidence supports the conclusion that supervision of the dependent child is no longer necessary. (In re Sarah M. (1991) 233 Cal.App.3d 1486, 1496, disapproved on other grounds in In re Chantal S. (1996) 13 Cal.4th 196, 204.) Under section 364, subdivision (c), we conclude the record supports the juvenile court's dismissal order.
Section 364 , subdivision (c)
Section 364, subdivision (c), provides:
"After hearing any evidence presented by the social worker, the parent, the guardian, or the child, the court shall determine whether continued supervision is necessary. The court shall terminate its jurisdiction unless the social worker or his or her department establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the conditions still exist which would justify initial assumption of jurisdiction under Section 300, or that those conditions are likely to exist if supervision is withdrawn. Failure of the parent to participate regularly in any court ordered treatment program shall constitute prima facie evidence that the conditions which justified initial assumption of jurisdiction still exist and that continued supervision is necessary."
Minor contends that the juvenile court's order terminating dependency jurisdiction is unsupported by substantial evidence. Generally, findings and orders under section 364 are reviewed for substantial evidence. (In re N.S. (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 167, 172.) Under this standard of review, the court looks to the entire record for substantial evidence to support the findings and orders of the juvenile court. (Ibid.) Typically, it is the department seeking to continue jurisdiction and thus bears the burden of proof under section 364, subdivision (c). (In re N.S., supra, at p. 172.) In this case, however, it was the minor through her counsel who objected to a termination of the dependency and therefore is the party who bore the burden of proof in the juvenile court. (In re Aurora P. (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 1142, 1157, 1163 (Aurora P.).)
Section 364, subdivision (c) requires a juvenile court to terminate dependency jurisdiction "in the absence of proof of conditions justifying assumption of jurisdiction...." (Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1157.) Consequently, the minor bore the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that conditions justifying retention of dependency jurisdiction existed at the time of the hearing. (Id. at p. 1163.) Since the juvenile court terminated jurisdiction, it clearly found that the minor did not meet her burden of proof. (Ibid.)
When the party who had the burden of proof is the appealing party, the standard of review is not substantial evidence. (Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1156, 1163.) The question on appeal is " 'whether the evidence compels a finding in favor of the appellant[s] as a matter of law.' [Citation.]" (Id. at p. 1163, citing In re I.W. (2009) 180 Cal.App.4th 1517, 1528.) We conclude it does not.
After a child is declared a dependent, the juvenile court must review the status of the child every six months. (Bridget A. v. Superior Court (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 285, 302-303.) Section 364 provides the standard when the child under the supervision of the juvenile court is not removed from the physical custody of the parent or guardian; it also applies in cases where a child has been removed from the physical custody of a parent but later returned. (In re Armando L., supra, 1 Cal.App.5th at p. 614; Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1154, fn. 9; In re Shannon M. (2013) 221 Cal.App.4th 282, 290.)
In In re Sarah M., supra, 233 Cal.App.3d at p. 1493, disapproved on other grounds in In re Chantal S., supra, 13 Cal.4th at p. 204, this court held section 364 only applies to cases in which the child has never been removed from the original custodial home. In In re Armando L. (2016) 1 Cal.App.5th 606, 614, we found Aurora P. persuasive on the issue of application of section 364 and did not apply the holding of Sarah M. Furthermore, the department and mother do not challenge the applicability of section 364 to this case. --------
At the section 364 review hearing, the juvenile court is not concerned with reunification, but in determining whether the dependency should be terminated or continued supervision is necessary. (Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1155; In re Pedro Z. (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 12, 20.) The juvenile court makes this determination based on the totality of the evidence before it, including reports of the social worker who is required to make a recommendation concerning the necessity of continued supervision. (Aurora P., supra, at p. 1155.)
Section 364, subdivision (c) establishes a statutory presumption in favor of terminating jurisdiction and returning the child to the parent's care without further court supervision. (In re Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1155; In re Shannon M., supra, 221 Cal.App.4th at p. 290.) The juvenile court is not bound by the department's recommendation to terminate jurisdiction if there is a preponderance of evidence to justify the court retaining jurisdiction and the parent, guardian, or child has met that burden. (In re Aurora P., supra, at pp. 1155-1156.)
The juvenile court made the requisite findings for a dismissal under section 364, subdivision (c), finding that conditions justifying the initial assumption of jurisdiction no longer exist and court supervision of the minor in care of mother is no longer necessary. Substantial evidence supports these findings. Clearly, minor did not meet her burden of proof.
Mother's actions at the beginning of the case in allowing stepfather back into the home, maintaining continuing contact with stepfather and becoming pregnant with his child, displaying pictures of stepfather, and refusing to tell the minor about her stepfather's actions, are all troubling and indicative of a parent that is unwilling to protect her child from sexual exploitation. But, the juvenile court found mother had made "significant" progress during the case toward alleviating the cause of the dependency. As one appellate court stated, we " 'are looking for passing grades ..., not straight A's.' [Citation.]" (In re Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1168.)
The social worker testified that there did not appear to be a strong emotional bond between mother and stepfather anymore. Mother had completed her case plan, including completing a parenting course and therapy sessions; the minor also had been discharged from therapy. The minor now was 14 years old and had expressed the opinion that she did not wish to have any contact with stepfather; the social worker believed the minor was old enough not to be forced into an unsafe situation with stepfather. The minor was living in a home with her mother, grandmother, and stepgrandfather; she felt safe and happy in the home.
The social worker opined that mother had made significant progress since January 2017. The social worker did not believe the minor was at risk because she felt mother was protective, grandmother was "especially" protective, and with mother and the minor living in grandmother's home, the social worker was confident grandmother would not "let anything happen."
In response to questions from the court, the social worker stated that in assessing whether there was a substantial risk to the minor if placed in mother's custody, the social worker looked at the minor's age and current living arrangements. The minor felt very safe and happy in her grandmother's home and was "old enough to not put herself into an unsafe situation." The social worker opined that there was "no risk" to the minor in the home.
While the CASA advocate testified to matters that caused concern, the issue before us is not whether there is any evidence that could have supported a contrary finding. The issue is whether, as a matter of law, the evidence compels a different finding under section 364, subdivision (c). (In re Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1163.) Based upon the social worker's testimony, the juvenile court found the conditions that led to the dependency had been alleviated and the dependency should be terminated.
The child's physical, emotional, and psychological needs were addressed in the review report, which the juvenile court considered before ruling. The minor was living in the home of her maternal grandmother, where she had lived for most of her life. The minor felt safe and happy in her current living arrangement with grandmother, mother, and stepgrandfather. The minor had completed all her therapy and been discharged from therapy. The minor was developmentally on track for her age; was well adjusted, with no behavioral issues; and was doing well in school, except for one class, which was being addressed with extra work and extra effort by the minor.
The circumstances of the parents were considered in assessing the welfare of the minor. Mother was no longer living with stepfather, and mother had completed her "parenting classes in a timely manner, and openly participated in mental health services, until she met her treatment goals and was successfully discharged." The finding that mother no longer needed treatment is also supported by this evidence.
We do not reweigh the evidence or reevaluate witness credibility; we cannot reverse an order merely because the evidence could be reconciled with a contrary finding. (People v. D'Arcy (2010) 48 Cal.4th 257, 293; In re Michael G. (2012) 203 Cal.App.4th 580, 589.) The testimony of a single witness, the social worker, is sufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's finding. (See People v. Panah (2005) 35 Cal.4th 395, 489.) Consequently, the evidence does not compel a contrary finding under section 364, subdivision (c).
Furthermore, when a juvenile court terminates its jurisdiction over a dependent child, it is empowered to make exit orders regarding custody and visitation. These orders become part of any family court proceeding and will remain in effect until they are modified or terminated by the family court. The power to determine the right and extent of visitation in a dependency case resides with the juvenile court and may not be delegated to nonjudicial officials or private parties, including the parents themselves. (In re A.C. (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 796, 799; In re T.H. (2010) 190 Cal.App.4th 1119, 1122-1123.) The rule of nondelegation applies to exit orders issued when the dependency jurisdiction is terminated. (In re Chantal S., supra, 13 Cal.4th at pp. 213-214; In re A.C., supra, at p. 799.) Here, the juvenile court issued an exit order prohibiting any contact whatsoever between the minor and stepfather. The exit order provides an additional safeguard for the minor.
The juvenile court could have declined to dismiss the dependency case and ordered family maintenance services. Family maintenance services are designed to provide in-home protective services to prevent or remedy neglect, abuse, or exploitation to prevent separation of children from their families. Services may be extended in six-month increments if it can be shown that the objective of the service plan can be achieved within the extended time periods. Unlike family reunification services, nothing in the Welfare and Institutions Code or the California Rules of Court limits the time period for court supervision and services for dependent minors who remain at home. Family maintenance services may be provided until the dependent minor reaches the age of majority. (In re Aurora P., supra, 241 Cal.App.4th at p. 1154, fn. 8; In re Joel T. (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 263, 267-268.)
The juvenile court concluded that since mother and the minor had met their case plan objectives, having the court and department "entwined in the life of this family is [not] going to have any beneficial effect." Having concluded the evidence does not compel a different result under section 364, subdivision (c) and substantial evidence supports these findings, the evidence does not compel the continued exercise of dependency jurisdiction or a reversal of the juvenile court's order terminating the dependency.
The February 1, 2018, order is affirmed.