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In re A.C.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

October 3, 2013

IN RE: A.C., JR., ET AL. Minor Children [Appeals By J.S., Mother]

Civil Appeals from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case Nos. AD 10901509, AD 10901510, AD 10901511, AD 10901512, AD 10901513, and AD 11906275.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT MOTHER Betty C. Farley.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE, C.C.D.C.F.S. Timothy J. McGinty Cuyahoga County Prosecutor BY: Tammy L. Semanco Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM Thomas B. Robinson.

BEFORE: Boyle, P.J., Blackmon, J., and E.T. Gallagher, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

MARY J. BOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE.

(¶1} Appellant-mother, J.S. ("mother"), appeals the juvenile court's decision granting permanent custody to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS" or "the agency") of her six minor children, A.S. (born March 25, 2002), S.S. (born September 19, 2003), Ja.S. (born November 11, 2004), Je.S. (born July 2, 2006), A.C. (born May 27, 2009), and A'r.C. (born April 4, 2011). She raises the following two assignments of error:

1. The Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services [CCDCFS] failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that permanent custody is in the minor children's best interests.
2. [CCDCFS] failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that appellant had not remedied the conditions which caused the removal of the children from the home.

(¶2} Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.

Procedural History and Facts

(¶3} CCDCFS opened a case involving mother and her four oldest minor children in August 2008, after receiving reports of domestic violence and substance abuse. Mother voluntarily agreed to participate in a case plan to help her with these issues, which included receiving a substance abuse assessment, domestic violence counseling, and a psychological evaluation at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court diagnostic clinic. At that time, two of her children were staying with relatives in Alabama.

(¶ 4} Mother completed the substance abuse assessment but failed to appear for her scheduled appointments for her psychological evaluation. She also failed to follow through with domestic violence counseling.

(¶5} In the fall of 2009, the children A.S. and Ja.S. returned from Alabama to mother's care, following the birth of A.C. CCDCFS also referred the father of A.C., "Doe, "[1] — who was allegedly engaging in acts of domestic violence around the children in mother's home — for anger management and a substance abuse assessment. Doe failed to participate.

(¶6} After learning that A.S. had been raped by Doe's oldest son and having continued concerns over mother's alcohol use and domestic violence in the home, CCDCFS moved for protective supervision of the children and filed a complaint alleging abuse of A.S. and neglect and dependency of all five children. Mother and Doe admitted to the allegations of the amended complaint, and the court adjudicated A.S. abused and all five children neglected and dependent. The court further granted CCDCFS protective supervision and approved the mother's case plan for obtaining services to address the following critical issues: (1) substance abuse, (2) parenting, (3) employment, (4) mental health, and (5) domestic violence.

(¶7} On March 25, 2011, CCDCFS filed a motion to modify protective supervision to temporary custody, following an incident of domestic violence involving Doe choking mother in front of the children at six o'clock in the morning. A.S. had run across the street to call the police for assistance. The mother was approximately eight months pregnant at the time. The children were placed in the emergency custody of CCDCFS the next day.

(¶8} Ten days later, on April 4, 2011, A'r.C. was born (Doe's second son) and almost immediately placed in the emergency custody of CCDCFS. In July 2011, A'r.C. was adjudicated dependent and placed in the temporary custody of CCDCFS. In September 2011, CCDCFS obtained temporary custody over the other five children.

(¶9} On February 21, 2012, CCDCFS filed a motion to modify temporary custody to permanent custody for all six children. On November 26, 2012, prior to the hearing on the agency's motion for permanent custody, the children's guardian ad litem ("GAL") filed his report and recommendations. The GAL detailed the progress of each child since his or her placement in foster care, as well as highlighting their continued need for specialized services. According to the GAL, mother has failed to complete her case plan services or remedy the conditions that caused the removal of the children. The GAL recommended that the court grant permanent custody of the children to the agency.

(¶10} On February 14, 2013, the trial court held a full hearing on the agency's motion for permanent custody. The agency presented two witnesses: Pamela Karwoski-Hillebrecht ("Karwoski"), the CCDCFS social worker assigned to mother's case, and Amanda Miller, The Bair Foundation case manager, who provided services to the children.

(¶11} Karwoski testified at length as to the services referred to mother and mother's failure to either complete or benefit from the services.

Substance Abuse

(¶12} Karwoski testified that mother's case plan included receiving services to address her substance abuse (alcohol) problem. According to Karwoski, mother intermittently complied with referrals for services. In March 2012, mother was referred to the Hitchcock Center for Women inpatient services after being terminated from Recovery Resources' intensive outpatient program due to relapsing. She received inpatient services from July through October 2012 and then was referred to intensive outpatient services again. Mother failed to enroll until three weeks before the hearing. Karwoski further testified that mother has not complied with the agency's request to attend weekly AA meetings and provide documentation.

Domestic Violence

(¶13} Although mother completed recommended classes addressing domestic violence, Karwoski indicated that incidents of domestic violence continued to occur in mother's home. She further testified that mother did not comply ...


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