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In re C.S.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

November 22, 2017

IN RE: C.S. Minor Child Appeal By F.S., Mother

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case No. AD 15916914

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT John H. Lawson The Brownhoist Building Mark A. Stanton Cuyahoga County Public Defender Sarah E. Gatti Assistant Public Defender F. S. 944 Rondel Road

          FOR F.S. Paul A. Daher & Associates

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor By: Cheryl Rice Anthony R. Beery Michelle A. Myers Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys

          FOR CHILDREN Candace L. Brown

          BEFORE: E.A. Gallagher, P.J., Laster Mays, J., and Celebrezze, J.



         {¶1} F.S. (referred to herein as "appellant"), the mother of C.S., filed an appeal from the juvenile court order awarding permanent custody of C.S. to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS"). Appellant's counsel has filed a motion to withdraw pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967), asserting that following an examination of the record there are no meritorious grounds for appeal. After holding the motion in abeyance to give appellant an opportunity to file a pro se brief, and following our independent review, this court grants appointed counsel's motion to withdraw and we dismiss the appeal.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         {¶2} On December 7, 2015, several days after C.S. was born, CCDCFS filed a complaint alleging that C.S. was an abused and dependent child and asking the court to award temporary custody to the agency. The trial court held a hearing on the matter of temporary custody and appellant denied the allegations of the complaint but agreed to stipulate to the motion for predispositional temporary custody.

         {¶3} In March 2016, appellant stipulated to an amended complaint and admitted that she and C.S. had tested positive for marijuana at the time of C.S.'s birth, that she has a substance abuse problem that requires treatment, that she is in need of an updated mental health assessment, that she was transient and that she has three other children who are currently in the legal custody of relatives.

         {¶4} On November 9, 2016, CCDCFS filed a motion to modify temporary custody to permanent custody due to appellant's lack of progress on the case plan towards unification. The case proceeded to a trial on March 14, 2017, where the following testimony was elicited.

         {¶5} Nathaniel Martin, the CCDCFS social worker assigned to the case, testified that paternity had never been established for C.S. Martin testified that appellant had a long history of substance abuse dating back to 2006. Appellant completed a drug and alcohol assessment in this case but failed to follow the treatment recommendation from the assessment. Appellant refused to comply with treatment because she did not feel she had an addiction and was removed from one treatment group for being disruptive. Appellant further refused Martin's request that she submit to a hair sample drug test because it would have been "dirty."

         {¶6} Martin testified that appellant had been previously diagnosed with bipolar and mood disorder. Appellant completed a mental health assessment in this case and was diagnosed with situational depression due to grief, loss and situational homelessness. Individualized counseling was recommended but appellant never engaged. Appellant was prescribed medication but failed to refill the prescription.

         {¶7} Martin testified that appellant has a history of transiency since 2012. During the pendency of this case, appellant lived at the home of a friend in Warrensville, Ohio. Appellant conceded that living with her friend was not a permanent housing situation and that she never set up a CCDCFS inspection visit of the home for that reason. Appellant testified that, at the time of trial, she was getting her finances in order so that she could move into her own residence.

         {¶8} Martin testified that from December 2015 until June 2016, appellant appeared for weekly visits with C.S. roughly three times a month. After June 2015, appellant "kind of disappeared, " attending only one visit in July and then failing to appear for any visits until she appeared for one visit in November and two visits in December. Appellant had not appeared for any visits from December 29, 2016 through the date of trial, March 14, 2017.

         {¶9} Martin testified that CCDCFS was unable to place C.S. with any of appellant's family members. Brown, C.S.'s guardian ad litem, testified that C.S. was doing well in foster care, was bonded to his fother mother and integrated into a family that was willing to adopt him. Both ...

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