IN RE: COLONIA L. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. KINGS COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. MARIO G. et al., Defendants and Appellants.
MARIO G. et al., Petitioners, v. The SUPERIOR COURT OF KINGS COUNTY, Respondent; KINGS COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY, Real Party in Interest.
In these consolidated proceedings, a father and mother seek this court's review of numerous juvenile dependency court orders. While this case is procedurally rather complicated, the issues are fairly straightforward. In summary, after receiving twelve months of reunification services, Mario G., natural father of Colonia and Mario, successfully obtained a peremptory writ from this court entitling him to an additional six months of services. He now objects to some of the tasks which the juvenile court subsequently directed him to complete. He also challenges the juvenile court's orders terminating further visitation between himself and Colonia as well as permitting Colonia to move out of state with her foster parents. For her part, the mother, Wanda L., disputes the order permitting Colonia to move out of state with her foster parents as well as a much earlier juvenile court order terminating reunification services for her benefit as to three of her four children, Colonia, Celestina and Enrique. On review, we conclude that none of the parents' contentions are persuasive.
I. & II.***III. Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children
The father and the mother each argue the juvenile court violated the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (Civ.Code, § 265) 8 by permitting Colonia to move out-of-state with her foster family. According to them, child welfare authorities in Washington were entitled to evaluate Colonia's placement with her foster family before the juvenile court approved the move. On review, it appears the interstate compact is inapplicable to this case.
The interstate compact symbolizes a cooperative effort among numerous states, including California and Washington, in the interstate placement of children. (Civ.Code, § 265, art. 1.) It seeks to ensure that a child who is subject to interstate placement will be placed in a suitable environment and that the person or institution with whom the child is placed is qualified to provide necessary and desirable care. (Ibid.) 9
The father claims the interstate compact covers the present situation in which the agency asked the juvenile court to permit Colonia to move with her foster parents out of state. He relies on a portion of the interstate compact which provides:
“No sending agency shall send ․ into any other party state any child for placement in foster care ․ unless the sending agency shall comply with each and every requirement set forth in this article and with the applicable laws of the receiving state governing the placement of children therein.” (Civ.Code, § 265, art. 3, subd. (a).)
At present, there is no case law interpreting the interstate compact in this respect.
The father's claim that the interstate compact applies to the circumstances here appears unfounded. First, the agency did not ask the juvenile court to send Colonia to Washington for placement in foster care. It is true that under the agency's proposal Colonia would be living out-of-state in foster care. However, Colonia was in an existing foster care arrangement which, if the court authorized the move, would not change. The only thing which would change was Colonia's address.
Second, the concerns underlying the interstate compact did not exist in her case. There was never any question about whether Colonia's foster family created a suitable environment for her or were properly qualified to provide for her care.
Third, the interstate compact anticipates an investigation by the receiving state before an out-of-state placement occurs. According to Civil Code section 265, article 3, subdivision (d), a child cannot enter the receiving state until the appropriate public authorities in the receiving state notify the sending agency, in writing, to the effect that the proposed placement does not appear to be contrary to the interests of the child. However, Washington, as the receiving state in this case, could not investigate Colonia's foster family since they had not as yet moved. Requiring the foster family to move out-of-state without Colonia so that an agency in Washington could investigate them would ignore Colonia's needs for emotional stability. It appears ludicrous to assume the framers of the interstate compact could have intended to cause more instability in the life of a dependent child by requiring a temporary change in foster care in an effort to assure a suitable placement when in fact the particular placement is preexisting and suitable.
For these reasons, we find the interstate compact does not apply when there is a request to permit a dependent child to move out-of-state with his or her current foster care parents.
IV. & V.†
The appeal in case No. F019580 is dismissed as moot to the extent it challenges the juvenile court's April 1993 order suspending visitation.
The petition in case No. F019830 is dismissed as moot to the extent it challenges the juvenile court's April 1993 order suspending visitation. In all other respects the petitions in case Nos. F019830 and F020855 are denied.
The juvenile court orders issued on June 15, 1993, are affirmed.
FOOTNOTE. See footnote *, ante.
8. As of January 1, 1994, the interstate compact appears at Family Code section 7901. However, since at the time of these proceedings the interstate compact was found in the Civil Code, we will cite the Civil Code throughout our discussion.
9. Civil Code section 265, article 1 specifically provides: “(a) Each child requiring placement shall receive the maximum opportunity to be placed in a suitable environment and with persons or institutions having appropriate qualifications and facilities to provide a necessary and desirable degree and type of care.“(b) The appropriate authorities in a state where a child is to be placed may have full opportunity to ascertain the circumstances of the proposed placement, thereby promoting full compliance with applicable requirements for the protection of the child.“(c) The proper authorities of the state from which the placement is made may obtain the most complete information on the basis on which to evaluate a projected placement before it is made.”
FOOTNOTE. See footnote *, ante.
THAXTER, Associate Justice.
MARTIN, Acting P.J., and STONE (W.M.A.), J., concur.