from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD527942 The
Honorable Arthur T. Anderson, Judge
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Tucson By Autumn
Spritzer Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety.
Natasha S., Tempe Appellant.
Judge Samuel A. Thumma delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Presiding Judge David D. Weinzweig and Judge Kent E.
THUMMA, CHIEF JUDGE.
Natasha S. appeals the superior court's order denying her
motion for foster care payments. Because Natasha S. failed to
exhaust her administrative remedies, the superior court
lacked jurisdiction to consider her motion. Accordingly, the
appeal is dismissed.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
For a time, Natasha S. was a licensed foster care provider
for R.Y. in this dependency proceeding. While R.Y. was in her
care, the Department of Child Safety (DCS) Office of
Licensing and Regulation denied Natasha S.'s application
to renew her foster care license. See Ariz. Rev.
Stat. (A.R.S.) § 8-506 (2019). Natasha S. challenged that
denial administratively and continued to serve as foster
placement for R.Y. When DCS affirmed the denial of her foster
care license, Natasha S. did not challenge that final agency
action in superior court. See A.R.S. §
41-1092.08; 12-901 to -914.
In December 2017, R.Y.'s guardian ad litem moved for an
order requiring DCS to pay Natasha S. for foster care
provided to R.Y. through November 2017. The superior court
granted that motion and DCS paid the amount ordered; that
order and payment are not part of this appeal. Later, Natasha
S. moved for an order requiring DCS to pay her for foster
care provided to R.Y. in December 2017. The superior court
denied the motion, and Natasha S. timely filed this appeal
challenging that denial.
Natasha S. asserts appellate jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S.
§§ 8-235(A) and 12-120.21(A)(1). DCS counters that
Natasha S. is not an "aggrieved party" as required
by A.R.S. § 8-235(A) and, alternatively, that the
superior court lacked jurisdiction to consider her motion.
Assuming (without deciding) that Natasha S. was an aggrieved
party, the superior court lacked jurisdiction to consider her
"[A]ppellate jurisdiction is derivative," meaning
that "when jurisdiction is lacking in the trial court,
it is lacking on appeal." Webb v. Charles, 125
Ariz. 558, 565 (App. 1980). This court "cannot consider
an appeal from the superior court on the merits unless the
superior court has jurisdiction." Riendeau v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 223 Ariz. 540, 541 ¶ 4 (App.
The superior court has jurisdiction over juvenile proceedings
brought under Title 8. See A.R.S. § 8-202.
Title 8, however, does not grant that court jurisdiction to
address foster care licensing or payment. Instead, those
matters are first addressed administratively. See,
e.g., A.R.S. § 8-503(A)(4)(g) (granting DCS
authority to "[establish rules, regulations and
standards for . . . [u]niform amounts of payment for all
foster homes according to certification"); Ariz. Admin.
Code (A.A.C.) R21-1-301 to -314 (setting forth such rules).
An individual wishing to challenge an adverse decision by DCS
on such matters may seek review by an Office of
Administrative Hearings Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
See A.A.C. R21-1-301 to -314; Ariz. Dep't of
Child Safety, Policy and Procedure Manual ch. 4,
§9 (eff. Oct. 15, 2018),
04_Out_of_Home_Care/foster_care_rate.htm. When such review is
requested, the ALJ issues a recommended decision after an
evidentiary hearing. A.A.C. R21-1-313. After review of the
ALJ's recommended decision, DCS issues a final
administrative decision. Id. An aggrieved party may
seek judicial review of a final administrative decision
pursuant to Arizona's Administrative Procedures Act
(APA). See A.R.S. §§ 12-901 to -914;
41-1092.08(H); A.A.C. R21-1-314.
"[A] party must exhaust his administrative remedies
before appealing to the courts." Minor v. Cochise
Cty.,125 Ariz. 170, 172 (1980). A failure to do so
means "judicial interpretation is withheld until the
administrative process has run its course." Id.
Natasha S. did not exhaust her administrative remedies before
seeking a court order requiring foster care payments. Even if
she had, any court challenge by Natasha S. to a final DCS
administrative decision would be made under the APA pursuant
to Title 41, not in this Title 8 case. See A.R.S.
§§ 41-1092.08(H); 12-901 to ...