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In re S.G.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Fairfield

June 10, 2019


          Appeal from the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. 2017 AB 0028


          For Appellant Rachel Denman JAMES E. YOUNG, For Appellant S.G. ERIN MCENANEY

          JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.


          HOFFMAN, P.J.

         {¶1} Appellants S.G. (Case No. 19-CA-05) and R.D. (hereinafter "Mother," Case No. 19-CA-07), appeal the judgment entered by the Fairfield Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, awarding permanent custody of S.G. to Appellee Fairfield County Child Protective Services (hereinafter "FCCPS").


         {¶2} S.G. was born on June 10, 2005. FCCPS became involved with Mother's family in September 2016, when notified S.G.'s sibling was not attending school. In October, 2016, FCCPS received a report S.G.'s sibling had access to marijuana and other illegal substances in Mother's home. Mother's home was condemned during this time period, and S.G. and his three siblings went to live with Mother's parents. After Mother was released from jail, where she served a sentence based on her daughter's truancy, she moved in with her boyfriend while the children continued to reside with her parents. Mother agreed to a voluntary case plan to address housing, employment, mental health, substance abuse, parenting, and visitation.

         {¶3} Mother did not make progress on the case plan, and FCCPS filed a complaint alleging S.G. was dependent and neglected on February 24, 2017. A shelter care hearing was held on March 31, 2017, and temporary custody was granted to Mother's parents, with protective supervision to FCCPS. By agreed entry at the May 9, 2017 hearing on adjudication and disposition, temporary custody was granted to Mother's parents, with protective supervision to FCCPS.

         {¶4} On December 19, 2017, FCCPS filed a motion for legal custody of S.G. and his two non-emancipated siblings to be granted to Mother's parents. Subsequently, due to an increasing level of conflict between S.G. and his grandfather, Mother's parents were unable to maintain S.G. in their home. They signed a voluntary agreement of care placing S.G. with FCCPS in March, 2018. By agreed entry, FCCPS was given temporary custody of S.G. on August 2, 2018. FCCPS filed a motion for permanent custody of S.G. on September 17, 2018. The case proceeded to an evidentiary hearing on the motion on January 4, 2019.

         {¶5} The evidence at trial demonstrated Mother's case plan required her to address her lack of housing stability. She was referred to metro housing, but did not follow through with the referral. She lived with her boyfriend for a period of time, then moved in with her parents, opting to live in a tent on their property. Because S.G. is not welcome in his grandparents' home, Mother is unable to provide housing for S.G.

         {¶6} As to the employment component of her case plan, Mother was unemployed from 2015, until June of 2018. From June through August of 2018, she worked at the Baymont Hotel. In September or October of 2018, she got a job at McDonald's. However, she makes $9.55 per hour, and concedes she cannot support S.G. on her salary. Despite the encouragement of her caseworker, she has not sought better employment.

         {¶7} FCCPS wanted Mother to submit to a mental health assessment. She only briefly complied with this component, and was terminated from counseling for noncompliance. She did not follow through with a referral to Ohio Guidestone.

         {¶8} The case plan required Mother to submit to an assessment for alcohol and/or drug concerns and follow all recommendations, as well as demonstrate sobriety through screening. Her participation in substance abuse services was not consistent. Mother admits she has a drug problem, and takes suboxone daily despite the fact she no longer has a prescription. She was discharged from treatment at The Recovery Center in September 2018, after missing appointments, and referred by FCCPS to Ohio Guidestone to restart treatment. She did not follow through with the referral. Her history of compliance with screening was inconsistent. She completed 40 calls, missed 20 calls, had 7 calls outside the window of time, missed 11 screens, and had 4 screens indicating substance abuse.

         {¶9} FCCPS also wanted Mother to pursue parenting skill development. She indicated she had taken parenting classes at some point in the past, but did not comply with this portion of the case plan.

         {¶10} Because of Mother's lack of housing independent from her parents, her ability to visit S.G. was limited. Although initially the grandfather was willing to supervise visitation, due to S.G.'s behavior grandfather was no longer willing to have S.G. in his home. Mother sometimes visited with S.G. at the home of his paternal grandmother.

         {¶11} S.G.'s father could not be located by FCCPS and did not participate in the case.

         {¶12} S.G. chose not to be present in the courtroom for the permanent custody hearing. However, he told his attorney he desired to maintain contact with Mother. The guardian ad litem testified permanent custody was in the best interest of S.G. because he deserved a legally secure placement.

         {¶13} The trial court found pursuant to R.C. 2151.414(B)(1)(a), S.G. could not be placed with Mother within a reasonable period of time. In making this determination, the court found pursuant to R.C. 2151.414(E)(1) Mother had failed to substantially remedy the conditions causing S.G. to be placed outside the home. The court found Mother's chemical dependency made her unable to provide an adequate permanent home at the present time and within a year after the hearing (R.C. 2151.414(E)(2)). The court found Mother's lack of vigilance in obtaining housing demonstrated an unwillingness to provide an adequate permanent home for S.G. (R.C. 2151.414(E)(4)). Pursuant to R.C. 2151.414(E)(14), the court found Mother was unwilling to provide shelter for the child because she was waiting for her father to change his mind about allowing S.G. in his home rather than developing a plan to obtain housing so S.G. could reside with her. The court also considered Mother's admissions at the permanent custody hearing she could not provide for the child right now, she understood she could not take him home at this time, she was not doing anything to ...

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