Dept. of Human Services v. C.L.H

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 01-05-2017
  • Case #: A162133
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Garrett, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; & DeVore, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In determining whether DHS failed to make reasonable efforts to make reunification possible, the juvenile court must engage in a cost-benefit analysis, considering both the burdens on the state in providing that service and the benefit that might reasonably be expected to flow from that service. DHS may not withhold a potentially beneficial service to an incarcerated parent simply because, in DHS’s estimation, reunification with the child is ultimately unlikely even if the parent successfully engages in the services and programs that DHS provides.

Father appealed the juvenile court’s decision to change M’s permanency plan from reunification to adoption. Specifically, Father argued that DHS did not make reasonable efforts to make reunification possible, because DHS failed to contact him in prison, failed to inquire into what services were available to him in prison, and failed to attempt to provide him with education or training to prepare him to care for M’s special needs. The Court held that DHS did not meaningfully attempt to provide those services or stay in regular contact with Father, and the juvenile court had little evidence concerning Father’s willingness and ability to participate in and benefit from those services. DHS may not withhold a potentially beneficial service to an incarcerated parent simply because, in DHS’s estimation, reunification with the child is ultimately unlikely even if the parent successfully engages in the services and programs that DHS provides. Dept. of Human Services v. M. K., 257 Or App 409 (2013). As such, the juvenile court did not have evidence derived from an extended period of time demonstrating that there would be little “benefit” to DHS providing additional services to Father. Reversed and remanded.

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