FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF
SUMMIT, OHIO CASE Nos. DN 16-06-000495 DN 16-06-000496
A. HAWKINS, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
MADELINE LEPIDI-CARINO, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.
BEVAN WALSH, Prosecuting Attorney, and JACQUENETTE S. CORGAN,
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for Appellee.
CHRISTINE BOLLMAN, Attorney for the Guardian ad Litem.
DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY
Appellants Mother and Father appeal the judgment of the
Summit County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, that
terminated their parental rights to their children 1-L.R. and
2-L.R. and placed the children in the permanent custody of
appellee Summit County Children Services Board
("CSB" or "the agency"). This Court
Mother and Father are the biological parents of 1-L.R.
(d.o.b. 2/9/14) and 2-L.R. (d.o.b. 5/23/16). Both children
are medically fragile and suffer from multiple serious
conditions. 1-L.R. has chronically experienced a failure to
thrive, gaining weight during his multiple hospitalizations,
but losing weight quickly again when back in the care of
Mother and Father. 2-L.R. was born extremely prematurely. At
the time of 2-L.R's birth, 1-L.R. was receiving treatment
during one of his many hospitalizations. Based on the
parents' failure to manage 1-L.R.'s medical
conditions, CSB filed a complaint alleging that child to be
neglected and dependent. The same day, the agency filed a
complaint alleging 2-L.R. to be a dependent child based on
Mother's and Father's failure to consistently feed
and visit with the premature infant in the hospital. By
stipulation of the parties, both children were placed in the
emergency temporary custody of CSB upon their respective
releases from the hospital.
Based upon CSB's dismissal of its allegations of neglect
regarding 1-L.R. and one of two allegations of dependency
regarding 2-L.R., Mother and Father waived their rights to an
adjudicatory hearing and stipulated that both children were
dependent pursuant to Revised Code Section 2151.04(C).
Thereafter, Mother and Father waived their rights to a
dispositional hearing and agreed to placement of the children
in the temporary custody of CSB. Mother and Father were to
have supervised visitations with the children. The juvenile
court adopted the agency's proposed case plan as the
order of the court. Mother's and Father's initial
objectives included that they (1) work with medical
professionals to understand how to care for the
children's medical needs and demonstrate that ability,
(2) obtain mental health assessments and follow all
recommendations, and (3) obtain and maintain safe and stable
housing. The juvenile court further found that CSB had used
reasonable efforts to prevent the continued removal of the
children from their home.
At the first review hearing, the magistrate again made the
same reasonable efforts finding. The children continued in
the agency's temporary custody. Five months later at
another review hearing, the magistrate once more found that
CSB had used reasonable efforts to prevent the continued
removal of the children from their home. The magistrate
maintained 1-L.R. and 2-L.R. in the agency's temporary
custody but ordered a liberal increase in the parents'
visitation based in part on the recommendation of the
guardian ad litem that the children be returned to
Mother's legal custody under protective supervision of
On May 3, 2017, the agency filed an amended case plan, noting
that the children had been moved to an out-of-county foster
home better equipped to handle the children's medical
issues, and recognizing that there may be challenges to the
parents' ability to visit based on the distance of the
placement. CSB also added case plan objectives requiring
Mother and Father to submit to mental health diagnostic and
parenting assessments at Summit Psychological Associates.
Approximately three weeks later, the agency filed a motion
for permanent custody. As grounds, CSB alleged that the
children should not or cannot be returned to Mother and
Father based on their failures to remedy the conditions that
led to the children's removal, as well as the
parents' chronic mental health and other delays that
prevented them from providing an adequate permanent home.
Mother and Father each filed motions for legal custody.
On July 5, 2017, CSB filed another amended case plan adding
more requirements for Mother and Father, including: (1) basic
and specialized parenting education addressing the
children's medical conditions and needs, (2) smoking
cessation programs due to the children's respiratory
issues, and (3) attendance at all medical and specialized
educational services appointments for the children. In
addition, Father was required to (1) submit to a psychiatric
evaluation, and (2) participate in outpatient substance abuse
treatment, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and submit to
urine screens. Father filed objections to the proposed
amended case plan. After a hearing, the magistrate rejected
the July 5, 2017 amended case plan and adopted the May 3,
2017 amended case plan.
CSB opposed Father's objections to the July 5, 2017
amended case plan. The guardian ad litem filed a report
recommending rejection of the July 5, 2017 amended case plan.
After a hearing, the magistrate adopted the July 5, 2017
amended case plan except for the requirement for Father to
participate in drug and alcohol treatment and submit to urine
screens. Instead, the magistrate ordered Father to complete a
drug and alcohol abuse evaluation. Father moved to set aside
the magistrate's order. The juvenile court denied
Father's motion and adopted the July 5, 2017 amended case
plan with the modifications ordered by the magistrate.
Mother's and Father's parenting assessments
identified delays hindering their abilities to appropriately
parent their medically fragile children. Accordingly, CSB
moved to withdraw its motion for permanent custody, and
instead moved for a retroactive first six-month extension of
temporary custody, as well as a second six-month extension,
to allow the parents time to work on those issues in pursuit
The visiting judge assigned to proceed over the permanent
custody hearing held a status hearing and issued the
following orders. He removed the agency protective caseworker
and ordered the appointment of a different caseworker. The
visiting judge adopted the recommendations in the most recent
report of the guardian ad litem, specifically: (1) to
maintain the children in CSB's temporary custody; (2)
that CSB allow Mother and Father access to the children's
online MyChart accounts relating to medical appointments and
reports; (3) that CSB provide Mother and Father with
immediate training relating to the children's gastronomy
tube ("G-tube") feedings; (4) that CSB allow
visitations outside the visitation center once the parents
have demonstrated the ability to administer G-tube feedings
appropriately; (5) that CSB ensure that the children continue
to receive developmental treatment; (6) that CSB continue
providing transportation assistance to Mother and Father; (7)
that Mother and Father attend all of the children's
medical appointments and follow through as advised; (8) that
Mother and Father maintain safe and stable housing; and (9)
that Mother continue counseling and complete parenting
classes. In addition, the juvenile court ordered the guardian
ad litem to coordinate with the children's medical
professionals to create a check list for the parents to
facilitate G-tube feedings. Medical professionals were
ordered to supervise the children's feedings by Mother
and Father until the professionals determined that the
parents could feed 1-L.R. and 2-L.R. without supervision. The
visiting judge thereafter had no further involvement in the
A new caseworker was appointed to oversee the case. At the
same time, a new court appointed special advocate assumed the
role of the guardian ad litem to represent the best interest
of the children.
At a review hearing 23 months into the case, the magistrate
found that CSB had used reasonable efforts to prevent the
continued removal of the children from their home. No party
moved to set aside the magistrate's order. Two weeks
later, CSB filed its second motion for permanent custody.
Mother and Father filed individual motions for legal custody.
At the permanent custody hearing, the parties stipulated to
CSB's allegation that the children had been in the
temporary custody of the agency for 12 of the prior 22
consecutive months. After finding that it was in the best
interest of the children, the juvenile court placed 1-L.R.
and 2-L.R. in the permanent custody of CSB. The juvenile
court further found that the agency had used reasonable
efforts to prevent the continued removal of the children from
their home. Mother and Father filed timely appeals in which
they each raise two assignments of error. This Court
consolidates the parents' assignments of error where they
address the same issues to facilitate review.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I
TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING PERMANENT CUSTODY TO [CSB] OF
[THE CHILDREN] WHEN THE AGENCY FAILED TO PROVIDE REFERRALS TO
ACCESSIBLE SERVICES, COMPLY WITH COURT ORDERS, AND MAKE
REASONABLE EFFORTS TO REUNIFY THE FAMILY.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I
TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING PERMANENT CUSTODY OF [THE
CHILDREN] TO [CSB] WHEN THE AGENCY FAILED TO COMPLY WITH
COURT ORDERS AND PROVIDE REASONABLE EFFORTS TO REUNIFY THE
Mother and Father argue that the juvenile court erred by
granting permanent custody of the children to CSB, because
the agency failed to use reasonable efforts to reunify ...