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In re S.J.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

July 3, 2013

IN RE: S.J., Jr.

Juvenile Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. JC 2009-9919

MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by MATTHEW T. CRAWFORD, Atty. Reg. #0089205, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts Building, Attorney for Appellee, MCCS

CHARLES W. SLICER, Atty. Reg. #0059927, Slicer Law Office, Attorney for Appellant, R.J.

OPINION

FAIN, P.J.

{¶ 1} RJ. appeals from an order of the Montgomery County Juvenile Court overruling her objections to a decision of a magistrate and awarding permanent custody of her son, S.J., to Montgomery County Children Services (Agency).

{¶ 2} R.J. contends that the juvenile court abused its discretion in awarding permanent custody of her child to the Agency, because the record does not support a finding that permanent custody is in the best interest of the child. She further contends that the Agency failed to make reasonable efforts at reunification and failed to explore potential placements with relatives or friends.

{¶ 3} We conclude that the record supports the juvenile court's decision to grant permanent custody of the child to the Agency. We further conclude that the Agency made reasonable efforts at reunification and sought information regarding relative and other placement alternatives. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is Affirmed.

I. The Course of Proceedings

{¶ 4} R.J. gave birth to S.J. on October 31, 2009. The child was immediately taken into the temporary custody of the Agency. In January 2010, the child was adjudicated dependent. The Agency filed a motion for permanent custody in November 2011. Hearings on the motion were held in March and May of 2012.

{¶ 5} During the hearings, evidence was presented that the child has substantial disabilities and is receiving services from Help Me Grow for feeding, occupational and speech therapy. Despite help from the Agency, R.J. appears unable to grasp the nature of the child's developmental delays.

{¶ 6} RJ. has a "history of homelessness" and must rely upon relatives for housing. At the time of the hearings, R.J. and the child's father were residing in the paternal grandmother's home. She is unemployed and has no source of income. Furthermore, she has mental health issues for which she needs long-term therapy and medication.

{¶ 7} R. J. consented to a case plan formulated by the Agency. The case plan required R.J. to: (1) attend therapy for mental health issues; (2) obtain her GED; (3) obtain and maintain stable housing and income; (4) attend visitation with the child; and (5) address personal hygiene issues.

{¶ 8} R.J. was referred to treatment for mental health issues in 2009. However, she did not engage in treatment until 2011, and her attendance at therapy has been inconsistent. Furthermore, she was required to obtain her GED, but failed to complete this objective. R.J. had no source of income and had no prospect of earning an income. She was denied Social Security benefits and failed to appeal from that initial denial.

{¶ 9} R.J. and the child's father were living with the father's mother. The Agency and GAL were not granted access to the home until March 2012, shortly before the hearings on the Agency's motion for permanent custody. Even then, the paternal grandmother did not permit access to the entire home; some rooms remained locked during the home visit. At the time of the home visit, the GAL noted that the home was not appropriate for the child and was infested with cockroaches. The GAL noted that there were "approximately 7 dogs and 5 cats" in the home with open litter boxes on both levels of the home. The evidence also ...


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