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In re D. R.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 15, 2018

In the Matter of D. R., a Child.
v.
J. E. R., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent, In the Matter of C. R., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
J. E. R., aka J. E. F., Appellant. In the Matter of E. R., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
J. E. R., Appellant.

          Paulette E. Sanders, Judge. Argued and submitted May 17, 2018

          Lincoln County Circuit Court 16JU06115; A166514 (Control) Lincoln County Circuit Court 16JU06118; A166515 Lincoln County Circuit Court 16JU06119; A166516

          Sarah Peterson, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the brief was Shannon Storey, Chief Defender, Juvenile Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Erin Galli, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. On the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Christopher A. Perdue, Assistant Attorney General.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         [293 Or.App. 388] Case Summary:

         In a consolidated juvenile dependency appeal, mother appeals from three judgments that changed the permanency plans for mother's children from reunifcation to adoption. Mother assigns error to the court's determination that the Department of Human Services (DHS) made reasonable efforts to ameliorate the adjudicated bases for jurisdiction based, in large part, on DHS's efforts that occurred before the juvenile court took jurisdiction and entered dis-positional orders. Mother argues that, until jurisdiction and dispositional judgments were entered and she knew which services she was required to complete, the juvenile court could not adequately assess whether DHS's efforts were reasonable to assist mother in ameliorating the bases for jurisdiction.

         Held:

         The juvenile court erred when it determined that DHS had made "reasonable efforts" to ameliorate the bases for jurisdiction, as required by ORS 419B.476(2)(a), based primarily on efforts DHS made prior to the entry of the jurisdictional and dis-positional judgments. First, the court erred by relying on the fact that mother resisted DHS's prejurisdiction efforts to enroll her in services, because mother was not required to engage in services before the entry of the jurisdictional and dispositional judgments. The unusually long period of time between DHS's initial involvement and the entry of the jurisdictional and dispositional judgments did not provide an opportunity for the court to assess mother's progress because, during that time, mother disputed that she needed services and the court had not yet resolved that dispute. Under the particular circumstances of this case, DHS's prejurisdiction efforts were not appropriately part of the court's "reasonable efforts" analysis. Second, to the extent that the juvenile court considered DHS's efforts after the entry of the jurisdictional and dispositional judgments, those efforts were not reasonable given the short time frame during which mother had an opportunity to engage in the services offered.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [293 Or.App. 389] SHORR, J.

         In this consolidated juvenile dependency case, mother appeals from three permanency judgments that changed the permanency plans for mother's children (C, D, and E) from reunification to adoption.[1] Mother contends that the juvenile court erred in changing the permanency plans because the court determined whether DHS's efforts were reasonable based, in large part, on DHS's efforts that occurred before the juvenile court announced the basis for jurisdiction and entered dispositional orders. During that prejuris-diction period, mother was unwilling to participate in the services requested by DHS until the court announced the services that mother was required to complete to ameliorate the basis for jurisdiction. Mother maintains that, until jurisdictional and dispositional judgments were entered and she knew which services she was required to complete, the juvenile court could not adequately assess whether DHS's efforts were reasonable to assist mother in ameliorating the basis for jurisdiction. Mother further contends that the juvenile court erred to the extent that it concluded that DHS made reasonable efforts to return the children home during the five-month period after jurisdiction. We agree with mother that, at least based on the circumstances presented in this case, the trial court erred in concluding that DHS made reasonable efforts to safely return her children to her. Accordingly, we reverse the juvenile court's permanency judgments.

         The following facts are either procedural or uncon-tested. This case concerns C, D, and E, who, at the time of the dependency hearing, were nine, seven, and five, respectively. DHS had been involved with mother and her children before the current proceedings that gave rise to this appeal. The juvenile court initially obtained jurisdiction over the children in 2014. The court dismissed jurisdiction in May 2016.

         Around that time and into July 2016, DHS began to receive reports that raised concerns about the children's [293 Or.App. 390] safety. Among other things, there were reports that mother was leaving the children unattended at home while she worked 28 to 32 hours a week at a local grocery store. DHS assessed that the children had significant behavioral issues and mental health needs that required constant supervision to ensure their safety. At times, mother left the children with her ...


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