IN THE MATTER OF: E.F. MINOR CHILD
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division,
Case No. 2016 JCV 00279
Appellee BRANDON J. WALTENBAUGH STARK COUNTY JFS
Appellant DAVID L. SMITH
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon.
Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.
Appellant-Mother C.F. appeals the judgment of the Stark
County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, awarding
permanent custody of her minor child E.F. to appellee Stark
County Department of Job and Family Services.
OF THE FACTS AND CASE
On April 1, 2016, SCJFS filed a complaint alleging the
dependency and/or neglect of E.F. (DOB 3/29/2016). Appellant
is the biological mother of E.F. The allegations of the
complaint centered on Appellant's history with Summit
County Children Services including involuntarily losing
permanent custody of a previous child, lack of follow through
with case plan services in the past, and continuing
deplorable home conditions.
On April 4, 2016, the trial court found that probable cause
existed for the involvement of SCJFS and placed the child
into its emergency temporary custody.
On June 15, 2016, SCJFS deleted the allegation of neglect,
and the trial court found E.F. to be a dependent child and
placed her into the temporary custody of SCJFS. The trial
court approved and adopted the case plan and found that SCJFS
had made reasonable efforts to prevent the need for the
continued removal of the child from the home.
The case plan proposed by SCJFS and adopted by the trial
court asked Appellant-mother to complete assessments through
(1) Northeast Ohio Behavioral Health (hereafter
"NEOBH") and follow all recommendations, (2)
receive mental health counseling and be medicine compliant,
(3) complete parenting classes through Goodwill Industries,
(4) obtain stable and appropriate housing, (5) obtain stable
verifiable employment or other source of income to sustain
the housing and care for E.F., (6) attend all medical
appointments and comply with taking her medications, and (7)
attend joint counseling with Mother and Father to address
relationship issues if they were to stay together. (T. 1. at
On October 14, 2016, the trial court reviewed the case. The
trial court found that Appellant was diagnosed with several
mental health issues, had not yet completed her parenting
evaluation, had a low IQ, and was not attending parenting
classes. The trial court approved and adopted the case plan
and found that SCJFS had made reasonable efforts to prevent
the need for the continued removal of the child from the
home. The trial court also found that no compelling reasons
existed to preclude a request for permanent custody.
On January 20, 2017, SCJFS filed a motion seeking permanent
custody of the child. In its motion, SCJFS alleged, among
other things, that the child could not and should not be
placed with Appellant-mother within a reasonable amount of
time, Appellant-mother had her parental rights terminated
pursuant to R.C. §2151.353, R.C. §2151.414, or R.C.
§2151.415 with respect to a sibling, and permanent
custody was in the child's best interest.
On January 24, 2017, SCJFS filed an amended motion seeking
permanent custody of the child. The amended motion was
substantively equivalent to the original motion.
On February 17, 2017, the Guardian ad Litem for E.F., Ms.
Valerie Anderson, submitted a report recommending that E.F.
be placed into the permanent custody of SCJFS. Specifically,
Ms. Anderson noted that it was "absolutely imperative
that SCJFS (be) granted permanent custody", and that
Appellant-mother "simply do(es) not have the parental
skills necessary to keep (E.F.) well cared for and
On February 21, 2017, the trial court again reviewed the
case. The trial court found that Appellant-mother was
diagnosed with a mood disorder and personality disorders. The
trial court also found that there were concerns with
Appellant's ability to parent. The trial court approved
and adopted the case plan and found that SCJFS had made
reasonable efforts to prevent the need for the continued
removal of the child from the home. The trial court again
found that no compelling reasons existed to preclude a
request for permanent custody.
On March 22, 2017, the trial court heard evidence on the
motion seeking permanent custody of E.F. (T. 1 at 4-105). At
the hearing, SCJFS presented evidence regarding
Appellant-mother and the minor child. (T. 1 at 5-64).
Caseworker Vicki Mitchell testified that Appellant-mother had
not fully completed her case plan nor had she significantly
reduced the risk she posed to E.F. (T. 1 at 8-22).
Specifically, Caseworker Mitchell testified that
Appellant-mother did not address her mental health issues,
did not initiate joint counseling, did not complete the
minimal requirements for parenting classes, did not have
appropriate housing, and struggled with basic parenting
skills like changing a diaper. (T. 1 at 7-19). Ms. Mitchell
also testified that Appellant-mother had previously lost
permanent custody of a child. (T. 1 at 6). Dr. Aimee Thomas
from Northeast Ohio Behavioral Health testified that
Appellant-mother has an IQ of 66 and is functioning at the
level of an eleven-year-old child. (T. 1 at 49). She
diagnosed Appellant-mother with a Mood Disorder and Other
Specified Personality Disorder, and noted Appellant's
dependent traits. (Tr. 1 at 49-54). Dr. Thomas opined that it
would be critical for Appellant- mother to participate in