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In re J.C.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District

July 15, 2013


Appeal from the Stark Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, Case No. 2011JCV00094

For Plaintiff-Appellee JERRY COLEMAN Legal Counsel Stark County JFS

For Defendant-Appellant M.S. AARON KOVALCHIK Suite

For Defendant-Appellant S.C. DAVID L. SMITH

Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P. J. Hon. Sheila G. Farmer, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.


Baldwin, J.

{¶1} Appellants S.C. and M.S. appeal from the February 27, 2013 Judgment Entry of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, terminating their parental rights and granting permanent custody of J.C. to Stark County Department of Job and Family Services.


{¶2} Appellant S.C. and appellant M.S. are the parents of J.C. (DOB 1/10/11). On January 19, 2011, Stark County Department of Job and Family Services (SCDJFS) filed a complaint alleging that J.C. was a dependent and neglected child. The complaint alleged that appellant M.S., the mother, had previously had a child adjudicated abused in Case No. 2007 JCV 00872 and that such child had been placed in the permanent custody of the agency. The complaint further alleged that appellant S.C., the father, had past involvement with the agency in a case and that the two children in such case were currently in the temporary custody of the agency. J.C. was placed in the temporary custody of SCDJFS. An adjudication/disposition hearing was scheduled for February 16, 2011.

{¶3} At the February 16, 2011, hearing, the parties stipulated to a finding of dependency and the allegations of neglect were deleted. As memorialized in a Magistrate's Decision that was filed on February 18, 2011 and approved by the trial court, J.C. remained in the temporary custody of SCDJFS.

{¶4} Subsequently, on December 20, 2012, SCDJFS filed a motion seeking permanent custody of J.C. A hearing on the motion was held on February 19, 2013.

{¶5} At the hearing, Wanda Pounds testified that she was employed by SCDJFS and was the family caseworker. Pounds testified that the agency became involved with J.C. shortly after his birth over concerns that he was a premature baby and appellant M.S. previously had lost custody of another child while appellant S.C. was involved with the agency with two other children. Pounds testified that on February 16, 2011, J.C. was placed in the temporary custody of the agency and that he had remained in the agency's temporary custody since such time.

{¶6} According to Pounds, the parties' case plan and subsequent amendments to the same required them to complete psychological parenting assessments at Northeast Ohio Behavioral Health, to participate in individual counseling, to have assessments for medications and to participate in the Goodwill Parenting Program. The plan also required appellant S.C. to receive a drug and alcohol evaluation at Quest and to follow all recommendations. Pounds testified that there were concerns about depression and anxiety issues with respect to both appellants. In addition, appellant S.C.'s plan required him to attend at least 3 twelve step meetings a week. Pounds further testified that appellant S.C. had two other children who were the subject of agency involvement and that, in that case, the children were placed in the legal custody of appellant S.C.'s mother. She indicated that appellant S.C., in such case, had a chance to work on a case plan and that it was her understanding that he did not.

{¶7} Appellant S.C. obtained the Quest assessment as required by his case plan and followed recommendations that he participate in Quest services. Pounds testified that appellant S.C., who had past problems with substance abuse, submitted to random drug screens and that there were no concerns about current drug use. She further testified that appellant S.C. had obtained a medication assessment and was currently on medication, although she did not know the name of the medication.

{¶8} Pounds also testified that appellant M.S. was on medication and was going regularly to a therapist. Both parents attended Goodwill Parenting. While appellant M.S. got a certificate of participation, Goodwill noted that they had to provide constant supervision to her and that they had "grave concerns about her ability to problem solve and to spontaneously respond to the special needs of [J.C.]." Transcript at 10. She testified that he had a condition that affects his lymphatic system and causes painful swelling. J.C. also has a respiratory condition and requires breathing treatments and could have an asthma attack very easily. Appellant M.S., according to evaluations, has the cognitive ability of an eight year old. Pounds testified that when J.C. paid too much attention to someone else, appellant M.S. would pout and get upset. She indicated that she had concerns over appellant M.S's ability to meet J.C.'s day to day needs because J.C. was very active and appellant M.S. was easily distracted. Pound also testified that J.C. requires daily massages and she was unsure if appellant M.S. was really aware of what that entailed.

{¶9} While appellant M.S. was actively involved in J.C.'s medical appointments, appellant S.C. was not and attended sporadically due to his work schedule. Pounds testified that they were never able to obtain verification of appellant S.C.'s work and that, in her opinion, he did not recognize appellant M.C.'s limitations and became frustrated with her. Appellants were very short with each other and Pounds testified that because of J.C.'s medical issues, appellants had to work together. When asked, she testified that appellants had attended what their case plan required them to, but had not done well because they did not retain information. She further testified that while appellant M.S. consistently attended family visits, appellant S.C. had not and had missed a majority prior to his participation in the Northeast Ohio Parenting Program. Since attending the program, he had done better, but had missed a couple of visits. Pounds, when asked if the risks that were present at the beginning of the case had been reduced, stated that they had not. She testified that she had made sure that appellants had bus passes and offered to give them rides to places to help them complete their case plan and that she had rearranged visits to accommodate them. She further testified that in July of 2012, appellant S.C. was charged with menacing and she was concerned with his anger issues.

{ΒΆ10} On cross-examination, Pounds testified that appellant M.S. had completed Goodwill Parenting and had retained an average amount of information and that she had completed the parenting assessment. Pounds testified that the majority of her concerns were not related to appellant M.S.'s completion of case plan services, but rather with outside issues such as her relationship with appellant S.C. She indicated that no one believed that appellant M.S. could do it on her own, but that there was no concern that she could not provide food, shelter or clothing to J.C. or get him to medical appointments. Pounds agreed that there was never a referral made to MRDD to help appellant M.S. with case plan services. Pounds further testified that appellants currently lived together. Pounds stated that ...

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