Dept. of Human Services v. R. W.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Family Law
  • Date Filed: 03-16-2016
  • Case #: A159694
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J. for the Court; Lagesen, J.; & Garrett, J.

While a parent’s failure or unwillingness to participate in reunification services and sign releases necessary for referrals to those services is taken into account by the courts, it does not preclude DHS from making reasonable efforts to engage the parent for reunification with their child.

Father appealed a dispositional judgment in a dependency case contending that DHS did not make reasonable efforts to reunite him with his child, N, during the five and a half months between N’s removal from his home to the hearing. A DHS caseworker met with Father when the initial dependency petition was filed. Father did not sign a release of information and refused reunification services offered. Father contacted DHS to request a referral to one of the services and signed a release of information two days before the dispositional hearing. At the hearing, DHS claimed that they had made reasonable reunification efforts, to which Father opposed, saying he had not been contacted after that initial contact. The Court agreed with Father and further stated that nothing in the record went to show that Father was explained the necessity of a signed release or why DHS is unable to make a referral without a release. Moreover, this Court found that if a correction is not made at this stage of the proceeding, the error can have lasting effect on the remainder of the case. Reversed and remanded for correction of reasonable efforts determination; otherwise affirmed.

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