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In re W. Q.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 26, 2019

In the Matter of W. Q., a Child.
v.
V. A. R., Appellant. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,

          Argued and Submitted November 5, 2019

          Wallowa County Circuit Court 16JU10116, 17JU09739; (Control) Thomas B. Powers, Judge.

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

          Inge D. Wells, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Lagesen, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Powers, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Mother appeals permanency judgments changing the permanency plan for her 13-year-old son, W, from reunifcation to placement with a ft and willing relative. She contends that the juvenile court erred when it determined that the Department of Human Services (DHS) made reasonable efforts to reunify W with mother as required by ORS 419B.476(2)(a) because only five sessions of hands-on parenting training before the permanency hearing did not reasonably allow her the opportunity to demonstrate that she could be a minimally adequate parent for W. DHS argues that its efforts were reasonable and that, in any event, mother's intellectual disability is an insurmountable barrier to reunifcation.

         Held:

         DHS's efforts to reunify W with mother were not reasonable because, at the time of the hearing, mother's training had not been going on [301 Or.App. 566] long enough to allow for a meaningful evaluation of whether mother could become a minimally adequate parent.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [301 Or.App. 567] LAGESEN, P. J.

         Mother appeals permanency judgments changing the permanency plan for her 13-year-old son, W, from reunification to placement with a fit and willing relative. She contends that the juvenile court erred when it determined that the Department of Human Services made reasonable efforts to reunify W with mother as required by ORS 419B.476 (2)(a). Accepting the juvenile court's supported factual findings and reviewing for legal error, Dept. of Human Services v. L. L. S., 290 Or.App. 132, 133, 413 P.3d 1005 (2018), [1] we conclude that mother is correct. We therefore reverse and remand.

         Absent exceptions not applicable here, to change W's permanency plan from reunification to placement with a fit and willing relative under ORS 419B.476, the juvenile court was required to make two predicate determinations: (1) that DHS made "reasonable efforts" to reunify W with mother; and (2) that, notwithstanding those efforts, mother's progress was not sufficient to allow reunification. L. L. S., 290 Or.App. at 137-38. Here, mother does not dispute that, as of the permanency hearing, her progress was insufficient to permit reunification; the only issue is whether DHS made reasonable efforts toward achieving reunification. "Reasonable efforts" for purposes of ORS 4l9B.476(2)(a) are "efforts that focus on ameliorating the adjudicated bases for jurisdiction, and that give 'parents a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate their ability to adjust their conduct and become minimally adequate parents.'" Id. (quoting Dept. of Human Services v. S. M. H, 283 Or.App. 295, 306, 388 P.3d 1204 (2017) (second internal quotation marks omitted)). The reasonableness of DHS's efforts depends on the particular circumstances of the case. S. M. H., 283 Or.App. at 305.

         Here, the particular circumstances of the case preclude the conclusion that DHS's efforts to reunify W with mother were reasonable, by and large because those circumstances show that DHS's efforts did not afford mother [301 Or.App. ...


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