from the Superior Court in Pima County No. JD20150269 The
Honorable Deborah Pratte, Judge Pro Tempore
G. Schmerl, P.C., Tucson By Peter G. Schmerl Counsel for
Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General By Cathleen E. Fuller,
Assistant Attorney General, Tucson Counsel for Appellee
Department of Child Safety
County Office of Children's Counsel, Tucson By John
Walters Counsel for Appellees K.D., K.-D., and K.W.
Presiding Judge Vásquez authored the opinion of the
Court, in which Judge Espinosa and Judge Eppich concurred.
VÁSQUEZ, Presiding Judge:
Jewel C. appeals from the juvenile court's order changing
the placement of her great-grandchildren from her care to
that of their "psychological paternal grandmother,
" Kay. She contends the court "abused its
discretion by granting" the state's motion
requesting the change "in violation of the placement
preferences established by A.R.S. § 8-514(B)." She
further asserts the court made "numerous findings . . .
without credible bases."
In its answering brief, the Department of Child Safety (DCS)
contends as a threshold matter that we lack jurisdiction over
this appeal. It asserts, "Jewel is not an aggrieved
party and the order is not final and appealable." Our
jurisdiction in juvenile matters is provided by A.R.S. §
8-235, which provides that "[a]ny aggrieved party in any
juvenile court proceeding under this title may appeal from a
final order of the juvenile court to the court of
appeals." Both factors must be present-the person must
be an aggrieved party and the court's order must be
final. Id. Thus, we must determine whether Jewel is
an "aggrieved party" and whether the juvenile
court's order changing the children's placement is a
qualify as an aggrieved party, the judgment must operate to
deny the party some personal or property right or to impose a
substantial burden on the party." In re Pima Cty.
Juv. Action No. B-9385, 138 Ariz. 291, 293 (1983). And,
in evaluating our jurisdiction, we do not employ a
"narrow, technical conception" of a final order,
but rather, "examine the practical effect of the
juvenile court's order" on the appealing party's
purported rights. In re Maricopa Cty. Juv. Action No.
JD-5312, 178 Ariz. 372, 374 (App. 1994). A final order
is one "that disposes of an issue such that it
conclusively defines the rights and/or duties of a party in a
dependency proceeding." Francisco F. v. Ariz.
Dep't of Econ. Sec, 228 Ariz. 379, ¶ 7 (App.
Jewel contends she is entitled to appeal based on the
juvenile court having allowed her to intervene in the matter.
Jewel filed a motion to intervene in the dependency
proceeding in June 2016, and the court granted permissive
intervention. Arizona courts have long allowed grandparents,
as well as other relatives, to be granted permissive
intervention in dependency proceedings so long as the
requirements of Rule 24, Ariz. R. Civ. P., are met and
intervention advances the best interests of the children
involved. See Bechtel v. Rose, 150 Ariz. 68, 73
(1986); see also Allen v. Chon-Lopez, 214 Ariz. 361,
¶¶ 11-12 (App. 2007). And in Bechtel, our
supreme court, although accepting special action
jurisdiction, suggested that grandparents are entitled to
appeal a juvenile court's ruling denying their motion to
intervene. 150 Ariz. at 71. In allowing permissive
intervention in Bechtel, however, our supreme court
cautioned that "intervention merely allows the
[relative] to be heard; it does not confer any right to
custody upon them." 150 Ariz. at 73 n.3.
Jewel also asserts that she is "an aggrieved party"
because she has "a statutory interest in placement
pursuant to" A.R.S. § 8-514(B)(2) and (3), "as
a member of the extended family." That statute sets
forth the preferences for placement and lists "kinship
care" above placement in other foster care situations.
Id. But, as we have previously pointed out,
"the order of placement is a preference, not a
mandate." Antonio P. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ.
Sec., 218 Ariz. 402, ¶ 12 (App. 2008). More
importantly, we have likewise made clear that "the
intent [of the statutory scheme for placement] is to protect
dependent children, not the interests of potential foster or
adoptive placements." Lorenz v. State, 238
Ariz. 556, ¶¶ 14, 20 (App. 2015) (concluding DCS
owed no duty to grandparents in negligence action).
Indeed, "[n]othing in the [kinship foster care] statute
suggests that relatives are the intended beneficiaries of the
kinship foster care program or that the program was designed
to protect potential placements." Id. ¶
17. Furthermore, under A.R.S. § 8-517, DCS may withdraw
a child from a foster home when it "determines that
withdrawal is according to written, specific standards and is
clearly necessary for the child's interests and
welfare" and may withdraw a child placed pursuant to
A.R.S. § 8-514.02, including a placement with a
relative, "if the change is necessary for the
child's best interests and welfare."
A great-grandparent, or other third party, may, however,
petition for placement under certain circumstances, pursuant
to A.R.S. § 25-409. The legislature having provided a
means by which a third party may independently obtain rights
to placement of a child, we have no basis to read such a
right into § 8-514, as Jewel suggests we
should. Thus, we conclude that because a
great-grandparent has no right to placement of a child in the
absence of an order granting third-party rights pursuant to
§ 25-409, under the circumstances in this case, Jewel
has no right that is aggrieved by a ruling changing placement
of the children, and she therefore cannot appeal.
See § 8-235; cf. Antonio M. v. Ariz.
Dep't of Econ. Sec., 222 Ariz. 369, ¶ 2 (App.
2009) (parent whose rights have been severed cannot appeal
from subsequent order changing placement); Lindsey M. v.
Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec., 212 Ariz. 43, ¶ 11
(App. 2006) (incarcerated parent aggrieved by disposition
order and foster placement based on fundamental right to
raise children); Elliott v. Elliott, 612 S.W.2d 889,
891 (Mo.Ct.App. 1981) (third party may obtain "the
status of aggrieved part[y]" for purposes of appeal in
custody proceedings when they have "become in loco
parentis to the child" by virtue of custody decree).
We further conclude the order at issue in this matter is not
a final order for purposes of § 8-235. Employing a broad
conception of a final order in view of a parent's
fundamental rights, our supreme court has determined that
"orders declaring children dependent and orders
reaffirming findings that children are dependent are final
orders subject to appeal by aggrieved parties." In
re Yavapai Cty. Juv. Action No. J-8545,140 Ariz. 10, 14
(1984). But, "juvenile court orders which merely relate
to a change of placement of a foster child from one foster
home to another and which do not constitute a reaffirmation
of dependency status vis-a-vis the parent are not 'final
orders' appealable pursuant to Rule 24, Arizona Rules of
Procedure for the Juvenile Court." In re Maricopa
Cty. Juv. Action No. J-57445,143 Ariz. 88, 92 (App.
1984). In contrast, change of placement orders affecting the
rights of parents are viewed differently. Thus, when a
natural father appealed from an order that changed placement
of the child to another state, the ...