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 BERNARD HUNT
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon.
Earle E. Wise, J.
Appellant-Father S.F. appeals the judgment of the Stark
County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, awarding
permanent custody of his 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 father of E.F. The allegations of the
complaint centered on the agency's concerns that the
child's parents were unable to provide the child's
needs directly at the hospital, along with the parents'
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-father to complete a Parenting
Evaluation at Northeast Ohio Behavioral Health, attend Anger
Management Services through Melambrosia, undergo a complete
mental health evaluation, complete Goodwill parenting classes
after the mental health evaluation, and obtain employment and
secure stable housing. (T. 1 at 6-7). Concerns were also
raised regarding Appellant's ability to intervene and
protect the child from her mother due to the mother's
limitations and mental health issues.
On October 14, 2016, the trial court reviewed the case. The
trial court found that Appellant-father was diagnosed with
several mental health issues, had not followed through with
mental health counseling or medication, and needed help with
basic parenting skills. 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
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 within a reasonable amount of time,
Appellant had his 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 "simply do(es) not have the parental skills
necessary to keep (E.F.) well cared for and safe", and
Appellant "has a problem maintaining employment."
On February 21, 2017, the trial court again reviewed the
case. The trial court found that Appellant was not employed
and had failed to engage in parenting classes, anger
management classes, or other services as required by his case
plan. 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-father and the minor child. (T. 1 at 5-64).
Caseworker Vicki Mitchell testified that Appellant had not
fully completed his case plan, nor had he significantly
reduced the risk he posed to E.F. (T. 1 at 5-22).
Specifically, Caseworker Mitchell testified that Appellant
did not address his mental health issues, refused to comply
with medication, did not complete anger management classes,
did not complete parenting classes, was not employed, did not
have appropriate housing, and struggled with basic parenting
skills such as changing a diaper. (T. 1 at 7-19). Ms.
Mitchell also testified that Appellant had previously lost
permanent custody of a child. (T. 1 at 6). Ms. Jennifer Fire
from Goodwill Parenting testified that appellant never began