appeal from the Holmes County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile
Division, Case No. 14N103
Appellee SEAN WARNER HOLMES COUNTY PROSECUTOR
Appellant DAVID M. HUNTER
Patricia A. Delaney, P.J. Hon. W.Scott Gwin, J. Hon. Craig R.
Appellant C.G. and appellant R.G. appeal from the May 18,
2017 judgment entry of the Holmes County Court of Common
Pleas, Juvenile Division, terminating their parental rights
and granting permanent custody of S.G. and X.G. to the Holmes
County Department of Job and Family Services
& Procedural History
C.G. is the mother ("Mother) of S.G., born July 19,
2011, and X.G., born December 30, 2013. R.G. is the father
("Father") of S.G. and X.G. On June 11, 2014, HCCS
filed a neglect, abuse, and dependency complaint with regards
to S.G. and X.G. The complaint alleged, in part, that there
was a lack of supervision in the home, the children were
dirty and wearing dirty clothing, X.G. was very small for his
age and appeared non-responsive with grey-colored skin, X.G.
had a rash on his face and neck, S.G. was extremely dirty,
S.G. appeared to have a speech delay, the family slept until
the afternoon each day, there was no observable structure in
the home, there was a lack of formula in the home, and while
the parents slept, X.G. was propped in front of the
television or left to sleep on the couch. The complaint
further stated a doctor who saw the children was concerned
about X.G.'s failure to thrive and S.G.'s
On June 11, 2014, the trial court issued an ex parte order.
On June 13, 2014, the trial court found it was in the best
interest of the children to grant temporary custody to HCCS.
A case plan for both parents was established on July 8, 2014.
The case plan required as follows: Mother and Father both
complete a mental health assessment through Anazao and follow
all recommendations made in that assessment; Mother and
Father both complete parenting classes through Anazao and
follow all recommendations; Mother and Father both complete
Home-Based Therapy through Anazo and follow all
recommendations; Mother and Father both complete individual
counseling on a weekly basis through the Family Life Center
and follow all recommendations; and Mother and Father both
obtain and maintain stable housing and employment.
An adjudicatory hearing was held on September 8, 2014. At the
hearing, both Mother and Father stipulated to a finding of
dependency; however, the abuse and neglect portions of the
complaint were dismissed. Thus, the trial court found both
S.G. and X.G. to be dependent pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C) and
ordered temporary custody to remain with HCCS. The trial
court also adopted the July 8, 2014 case plan. On September
9, 2014, the case plan was amended to add that both Mother
and Father complete a psychological assessment.
In October of 2014, pursuant to a motion filed by the
guardian ad litem ("GAL") and a judgment entry by
the trial court, the supervised visitation between the
children and parents was moved to their home. In March of
2015, the supervised visits increased to week-ends from 8:00
a.m. Saturday morning to 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
In May of 2015, HCCS filed a motion to extend temporary
custody for six months to allow the parents to continue case
plan services. The trial court granted the motion on May 26,
2015. In November of 2015, HCCS filed another motion to
extend temporary custody for six months to allow the parents
to continue case plan services. The trial court granted the
motion on December 4, 2015. An amended case plan was filed on
November 25, 2015 that provided the parents will work with
S.G.'s play therapist, follow any recommendations, work
with S.G.'s speech therapist and follow any
recommendations, and will work with S.G.'s preschool and
follow any recommendations.
After a review hearing in January of 2016, the trial court
issued a judgment entry stating that if Mother's relative
wanted custody of the children, she needs to file a request
with the trial court. Further, the trial court cautioned the
parents that the children have been in the temporary custody
of HCCS for such a long time it is important they make
significant progress on their case plan requirements very
In February of 2016, visitation between the parents and
children was increased and was from Saturday morning to
In April of 2016, an amended case plan was filed, adding
protective daycare to the requirements. On June 6, 2016, HCCS
filed a motion for permanent custody of S.G. and X.G. The
motion states the parents have participated in the case plan,
but there is still a significant risk of a safety threat to
the children. Further, that the parents cannot meet the
children's basic needs or provide supervision. Finally,
the motion alleges the additional visits increased concerns
about the children's well-being due to lack of structure,
inability to maintain a consistent daily routine, and the
inability to maintain nutrition and attend medical
appointments. Also in June of 2016, Mother and Father filed a
motion to modify disposition to return custody.
In July of 2016, HCCS filed a motion for temporary suspension
of visitation due to a report by S.G. that another adult male
sleeps in her bed. The motion was denied by the trial court.
Rachel Hoffee ("Hoffee"), the GAL, filed her report
and recommendation on August 5, 2016. Hoffee stated she does
not believe the parents can adequately parent on a full-time,
permanent basis without significant support. Further, that
the parents have only been able to maintain the children for
five-day visitation due largely to all service care providers
frequently and consistently involved in their lives. Hoffee
stated the parents love the children and are bonded with the
children, but sometimes demonstrate poor decision-making and
thus, the risk of future neglect is not completely
eliminated. Hoffee recommended returning custody to the
parents only on the following conditions: when not at school,
the children attend daycare all day, three to five days per
week, all year long; the parents continue to participate in
individual and marriage counseling; the parents continue to
take the children to all medical and therapy appointments;
and Mother continues to utilize case management services.
In October of 2016, HCCS filed a motion to modify visitation.
The trial court denied the motion.
Hoffee filed a supplemental GAL report on January 12, 2017.
Hoffee again stated she does not believe the parents can
adequately parent on a full-time, permanent basis, even with
significant support in place. Further, that over the last
several months, the children are struggling emotionally,
struggling behaviorally, struggling developmentally, and are
regressing back to their old, concerning behaviors. Hoffee
stated the parents continue to demonstrate poor
decision-making, as they allowed an adult male friend to
sleep with S.G. in a twin bed and invited Mother's friend
and boyfriend, who had a concerning criminal history, had
just been charged with drug trafficking, and whose children
were removed from their care, to live in their home for a
time. Hoffee found the parents make parenting decisions that
frequently put the children's safety at risk. Hoffee does
not believe the parents will continue their own or the
children's services after this case closes. Hoffee stated
the children need permanency, structure, and stability; and
reunification with the parents will not result in permanency.
Hoffee recommended the trial court grant HCCS' motion for
A trial on the agency's motion for permanent custody and
parents' motion for return of custody was held on January
18, January 19, March 6, March 7, and March 9 of 2017. Tara
Gerber ("Gerber"), an intake worker with HCCS,
testified the concerns in June of 2014 with the parents
included: the home was dirty; X.G. was limp, had gray skin,
and a red rash when she visited the home; S.G. was dirty and
her feet were black; and Dr. McFadden had concerns with
Mother's ability to care for the children. Gerber stated
she decided to request removal of the children from the home
because of the condition of the home, the condition of the
children, and the concern expressed by the doctor about X.G.
Dr. Dwight McFadden ("McFadden") was the primary
care provider for X.G. and S.G. McFadden had concerns about
X.G.'s failure to thrive. McFadden discussed this with
Mother and Father prior to HCCS involvement, but the
situation did not improve. McFadden felt the parents had
difficulty in understanding what he was trying to say.
McFadden has no concerns with the foster parents. McFadden
has less concerns today with Mother and Father than before,
but he still has concerns.
Dr. Steven Burggraf ("Burggraf") is the Executive
Director of Family Life Counseling and Psychiatric Services.
Burggraf conducted Mother's psychological evaluation. He
testified that Mother has an intellectual disability and her
low level of cognitive functioning impacts her ability to
process information, problem-solve, plan, judgment, and
ability to learn through experience. This impacts her ability
to parent, as there have been significant efforts to teach
Mother parenting skills, but they are difficult for her to
implement. Burggraf stated Mother's prognosis for change
is poor. There is a greater likelihood that Mother's
depression can improve to some degree through medication and
counseling. Burggraf concluded Mother's intellectual
disability is a significant issue in her ability to parent
and this prognosis is unlikely to improve. Burggraf also
concluded Mother's depression, along with her
intellectual disability, is problematic because it creates a
situation where she is sleeping long periods of time and not
tending to her own personal needs and the needs of the
children. Burggraf testified Mother demonstrated she is
incompetent to independently parent her children and the
prognosis is poor that she can become competent through
instruction or treatment.
Burggraf testified that Exhibit 1 is his report of the mental
health evaluation of Mother. Exhibit 1 is consistent with
Burggraf's testimony, as the report provides he diagnosed
Mother with an intellectual disability that has a profound
negative impact on her competency to parent her children, as
she cannot execute the parenting skills she is taught.
Burggraf classified the effects of this diagnosis as
"pervasive" and concluded that Mother is
incompetent to independently parent and the prognosis is poor
that she can become competent through instruction or
treatment. Burggraf also diagnosed Mother with major
depressive disorder, whose symptoms cause clinically
significant impairment in important areas of functioning,
including parenting. Burggraf concluded that while this
depression negatively impacts her ability to parent, she
could improve through medication and counseling.
Milton Ledford ("Ledford") is a licensed
professional clinical counselor who is the individual
counselor for Father. Ledford testified he and Father worked
on priority and responsibility and there was not much
progress by Father on these goals in the first year. Ledford
then saw Mother and Father together and noticed a disturbing
turn of events with blame-shifting and not following through.
Robert Hull ("Hull") is a developmental behavioral
pediatrician who completed an evaluation on S.G. Hull
diagnosed S.G. with speech apraxia. Due to the speech apraxia
and some developmental delays, Hull gave the family an
occupational therapy request, a physical therapy request, and
a speech therapy request for S.G. Hull testified if S.G.
receives services, there is hope for improvement and it is
very important she receives services on a regular and
consistent basis. Kathryn Hodkinson, the speech therapist for