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In re K.H.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Stark

December 27, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF: K.H. (DOB 3-12-01) MINOR CHILD S.C. (DOB 12-9-02) MINOR CHILD

         Appeal from the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, Case Nos. 2016JCV00175 and 2016JCV00176

          For Plaintiff-Appellant mother S.H. WAYNE GRAHAM

          For Defendant-Appellee BRANDON J. WALTENBAUGH Stark County DJFS

          Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.

          OPINION

          BALDWIN, J.

         {¶1} Appellant S.H. appeals from the August 18, 2017 Judgment Entries of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division, granting permanent custody of her two children to Stark County Department of Jobs and Family Services.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

         {¶2} K.H. (DOB 3/12/01) and S.C. (DOB 12/9/02) are appellant's biological children. The two have different fathers. On March 2, 2016, appellee Stark County Department of Jobs and Family Services (SCDJFS) filed a complaint in Case No. 2016JCV00175 alleging that K.H. was dependent and neglected. On the same date, appellee SCDJFS filed a complaint in Case No. 2016JCV00176 alleging that S.C. was dependent and neglected. The two girls were placed in the temporary custody of the agency.

         {¶3} On May 26, 2016, the trial court found K.H. and S.C. to be dependent children and placed them in temporary custody of SCDJFS.

         {¶4} Thereafter, on June 6, 2017, appellee SCDJFS filed complaints in both cases seeking permanent custody of K.H. and S.C. A hearing on the motions was held on August 16, 2017.

         {¶5} At the hearing, Barbara Ballway, a caseworker at SCDJFS, testified that she was assigned to the family in March of 2016. She testified that K.H. and S.C. had remained in the temporary custody of the agency since May 26, 2016 and that such period of time was in excess of twelve of the last twenty-two months. Ballway testified that appellant last visited with K.H. and S.C. on October 11, 2016 because her visits had been suspended by the court after she was late for more than two consecutive visits in a row. While Ballway asked appellant to come in and meet with her to pursue having the visits reinstated, appellant did not do so. Ballway further testified that K.H. and S.C. had gone AWOL from their placement several times during the life of the case and had told her that they had seen appellant during those times.

         {¶6} Ballway was questioned about appellant's case plan. She testified that appellant was initially ordered in March of 2016 to complete a parenting evaluation through Northeast Ohio Behavioral Health, to submit to drug testing as requested and to submit to an assessment through CommQuest Services. According to Ballway, appellant was unsuccessfully discharged from CommQuest for lack of compliance, had not completed the parenting evaluation, and was inconsistent in her drug screens. Appellant was discharged from CommQuest on April 19, 2016 for failure to appear. Ballway testified that appellant had not been able to maintain housing or employment throughout the case and that she had been unable to maintain consistent contact with appellant because appellant's phone numbers and living situation changed frequently.

         {¶7} Ballway also testified that appellant had criminal charges throughout the case. The following is an excerpt from her testimony at the hearing:

         {¶8} Q: Okay. And has mother had some uh…criminal issues throughout the case?

         {¶9} A: Yes, she has.

         {¶10} Q: And do you know the nature of those criminal issues?

         {¶11} A: I do. Um…mom was charged um…in November of '16 with possessing drug abuse instruments. She was charged in February of this year with Interference of Custody. She was charged in March of this year with Possession of Drug Abuse Instruments. April of this year with Possession of drug abuse instruments. Um… the end of April of this, uh…4-29 of this year, she was also charged with possessing drug abuse instruments and possession of heroin.

         {¶12} Q: Okay. And do those particular criminal incidents cause concern as it relates to the mothers ...


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