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Dept. of Human Services v. M.K.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-03-2013
Case #: A153090
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A153090.pdf

Juvenile Law: Under ORS 419B.476, "reasonable efforts" to allow a ward to be returned home must be determined by a totality of the circumstances analysis and not a single factor such as cost.

Father, who was imprisoned for sexual abuse of a minor, appealed a juvenile court permanency judgment which extended a plan to reunite him with R, his son, by six months, and decided Father has not yet made sufficient progress in recovery to be reunited. On appeal, Father did not challenge the juvenile court's extension of the reunification plan, but only the determination of the Department of Human Services' (DHS) efforts to reunite them and Father's progress towards that goal. The juvenile court found DHS made "reasonable efforts" to provide the psychosexual evaluation needed to determine if Father would be a danger to R, despite DHS declining to actually provide this evaluation due to excessive cost. The Court of Appeals held that the juvenile court erred in not considering the totality of the circumstances when evaluating whether DHS made "reasonable efforts" to reunite Father and R under ORS 419B.476. Additionally, there was insufficient evidence in the record to support an analysis of the totality of the circumstances needed to establish "reasonable efforts." Reversed.