Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Ashland
IN RE: M.H. A MINOR CHILD
Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division,
Case No. 20173002
Plaintiff-Appellant Mother EMILY M. BATES
Defendant-Appellee CHRISTOPHER R. TUNNELL PROSECUTING
ATTORNEY JOSHUA T. ASPIN ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR
John W. Wise, P. J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Earle E.
Wise, Jr., J.
JOHN, P. J.
1} Appellant-Mother, J.H., appeals the February 2,
2018, Judgment Entry of the Court of Common Pleas of Ashland
County, Ohio, Juvenile Division, granting permanent custody
of her minor child to Appellee Ashland County Child
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2} On November 13, 2014, M.H., (age one-year old)
and his sibling C.H. (four-years old) were removed from the
home of their mother by Children Services pursuant to an Ex
Parte Order. A shelter care hearing was held in Ashland
County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, and said
children were placed in the temporary custody of Appellee
Ashland County Department of Job and Family Services,
Children Services Division ("Children Services").
(11/18/14 Judgment Entry).
3} Also, on November 13, 2014, Children Services
filed a complaint alleging that M.H. is a dependent child and
sought temporary custody of him to Children Services.
4} The minor child, M.H. was born on July 2, 2013,
to father, J.H., and mother J.H. Mother is the Appellant in
the case at bar. A seven year-old sibling of M.H., C.H., was
also adjudicated dependent under the facts of this case, but
is not a subject of this appeal. The sibling C.H. suffers
from autism, and Mother had indicated at the commencement of
the permanent custody hearing that she believed that
permanent custody was in C.H.'s best interest. The
children's mother, J.H., suffers from mental health and
cognitive limitations resulting from a traumatic brain
injury. (T.at 79).
5} On January 29, 2015, an Amended Complaint was
filed alleging that M.H. was a dependent child, including
additional allegations. After an adjudicatory hearing on
January 27, 2015, said child was found dependent pursuant to
section 2151.04(C) of the Ohio Revised Code. (1/29/15 Mag.
6} On February 3, 2015, the court heard evidence on
disposition. The court found it in the best interest of M.H.
to be placed in the temporary custody of Children Services
and decided accordingly. (2/13/15 Mag. Dec; 2/27/15 J.E.). On
November 25, 2015, following a hearing, the court issued an
order extending temporary custody for six months. On August
18, 2016, Children Services filed a motion seeking Permanent
Custody of the sibling C.H., due in part to C.H.'s
special needs. On August 1, 2016 Children Services filed a
Motion requesting that M.H. be reunited with his mother.
7} The children have resided in foster care home
since their removal from the home, except for two short time
periods. The first instance was when the children were
attempted to be placed with grandparents, and the second when
M.H. was placed with Appellant-Mother in December, 2016.
8} The concerns in this case included the
Mother's cognitive abilities and mental health needs,
including the stresses of caring for C.H., a severely
autistic child. The initial issues included home conditions
and Mother's being overwhelmed with the children's
needs such that she resorted to restraining them in a
stroller and Pack-n-Play with shoelace material. (T at 249).
Additional concerns included the mother's inability to
focus and remain on task while caring for herself and the
physical, educational, and medical needs of the children. (T.
at 252-255, 257).
9} Appellant-Mother has cooperated and completed
case plan objectives as requested by Children Services. The
case plan included parenting education classes and mental
health counseling for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. (T. at
259, 261). Reunification had been the agency's goal and
was attempted when M.H. was placed in Mother's home on
December 2, 2016, on a trial basis. (T. at 277).
10} On December 9, 2016, Caseworker Perkins visited
the home for an announced visit. Id. M.H. was
observed acting like a dog. (T. at 278). During this visit,
the caseworker discussed the possibility of enrolling M.H. in
preschool. Id. No concerns were noted for that
11} On December 19, 2016, the Caseworker made an
unannounced visit to the home. Id. She observed that
the home was dirty, very cluttered, and that Mother was
babysitting for a one-year old child. (T. at 279). The
Caseworker explained to Mother that the home needed to be
better maintained. Id.
12} On January 12, 2017, the Caseworker again made
contact following reports concerning deplorable home
conditions and medical issues with M.H. (T. at 280-282).
During the visit on January 12, 2017, the Caseworker observed
that Mother appeared unkempt and unbathed, the apartment
extremely dirty and had an odor of "rancid vomit".
(T. at 284, Jan. 30, 2018 J/E at 11 ¶35). She observed
that there was trash everywhere and curdled food in dishes.
Id. Mother blamed the conditions on having recently
had dental work done, on caring for an unrelated one-year old
child, on her live-in boyfriend, on Children Services, and on
four-year old M.H. (T. at 286). Also, while the Caseworker
was present at the home on January 12, 2017, she observed
that M.H. continued to act like a dog throughout the visit by
crawling around on the floor, picking up things with his
mouth and barking. (T. at 297).
13} The Guardian Ad Litem confirmed the Caseworkers
observation, finding the home to have deteriorated
substantially between visits. (Jan. 30, 2018 J/E at 11
¶36) The GAL observed a strong odor, garbage, trash cans
overflowing, dirty dishes, trash strewn everywhere.
Id. The GAL also stated that she was unable to speak
with M.H. because he was acting like a dog and would not
14} When the Caseworker inquired about reports of
M.H. having headaches, Mother claimed that she took him to a
doctor, and that M.H. had an ear infection. (T. at 290).
However, Mother could not recall which doctor he saw or when
she took him. (T. at 289). The Caseworker was later
unsuccessful in verifying whether M.H. had seen any doctor.
Id. Mother also admitted that she was caring for the
one-year old daily and not only a couple days per week as she
had previously stated to the Caseworker in December. (T. at
15} On January 19, 2017, Children Services filed a
motion seeking permanent custody of M.H. This change in the
requested disposition was due to continued issues that arose
during M.H.'s placement in Mother's home, which only
became known in ...