The California Supreme Court says the state can take wayward children away from their parents even when they are doing their best to control the kids.
A unanimous court ruled on Thursday that it doesn't matter whether the parents are neglectful or in some way to blame for failing to protect the kids.
If the children face substantial risk of harming themselves, the high court said the state can assume custody of them.
The decision upheld a lower court ruling in the case of a Los Angeles County mother whose teen daughter repeatedly ran away from home, had a child at 15 and skipped school.
The lower court found the mother - identified only as Lisa E. - was neither neglectful nor blameworthy, but state law didn't require such a finding.