IN RE: LEROY L., et al., Minors. SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, Petitioner and Respondent, v. Melvina I., Objector and Appellant.
Petitions filed in the juvenile court on behalf of Leroy and Mary L. (the minors) alleged the minors came within Welfare and Institutions Code section 300(d) because of the cruelty of their stepfather and mother, Mr. and Mrs. I.1 The court found the allegations to be true and declared the minors dependent children of the juvenile court. The court ordered custody to be taken from Mrs. I., and further ordered the minors placed in a foster home.
Mrs. I. asked the court for a plan to be reunited with her children. The court requested a reunification plan from the social worker and ordered the I's to comply with its terms, such as counseling and visitation. At the request of the San Diego County Department of Social Services, the court later vacated the reunification order. Mrs. I. appeals.
Mrs. I. meritlessly contends no good faith reunification plan was established. Where the social worker recommends the minor be removed from the home, a plan for reuniting the minor with the family must also be recommended (rule 1376(b), California Rules of Court; In re Jeremy C. (1980) 109 Cal.App.3d 384, 393, 167 Cal.Rptr. 283). Here a reunification plan was included in the social study and approved by the court. Mrs. I. knew she had to fulfill the plan's requirements as a condition of being reunited with the minors. A satisfactory reunification plan, including court ordered counseling and visitation, was not only established as required by rule 1376(b), it was also implemented.
Mrs. I. further contends the court erred in “prematurely” terminating the reunification plan. However, the purpose of rule 1376 is to “create a plan to reunite the family in a situation where the best interests of all concerned, the child, the parent and society as a whole, are well served.” (In re Jamie M. (1982) 134 Cal.App.3d 530, 545, 184 Cal.Rptr. 778.) Where “parental preference” and the “child's best interests” conflict, the legal system protects the child's interests (In re Angelia P. (1981) 28 Cal.3d 908, 916, 171 Cal.Rptr. 637, 623 P.2d 198). Here the reunification plan was detrimental to the minors. They continually expressed hostility toward their mother and fear of their stepfather when presented with the idea of returning home. Based on the psychiatric and social study reports, the court found the minors had been so badly damaged, no possibility for a successful reunification existed. The court also said no matter how much therapy Mr. and Mrs. I. had, the minors would never be able to return home to live with the man who sexually abused Mary. Rule 1376 did not contemplate a situation where, as here, a stepfather has a history of child molestation and where the minors' best interests would be impaired. (See In re Michael S. (1981) 127 Cal.App.3d 348, 362, 179 Cal.Rptr. 546.)
The order is affirmed.
1. The petition filed on behalf of Mary alleged “said stepfather and/or mother subjected or exposed said minor to sexual abuse or damage․” The petition filed on behalf of Leroy alleged “said stepfather and/or mother subjected or exposed said minor sibling to sexual abuse or damage and said minor is in need of protection by the Juvenile Court.”
GERALD BROWN, Presiding Justice.
WORK and BUTLER, JJ., concur.