Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
IN RE: E. A.
FROM WARREN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. 16-D000093
P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Kirsten A.
Brandt, for appellee
Law Office, Lauren L. Clouse, for appellant
1} Appellant, the biological father of E.A., appeals
from a decision of the Warren County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Division, granting permanent custody of E.A. to
appellee, Warren County Children Services ("WCCS").
For the reasons detailed below, we affirm.
2} Mother tested positive for drugs throughout her
pregnancy. On July 2, 2014, E.A. was born and tested positive
for drugs. As a result, E.A. was placed in the temporary
custody of WCCS while Mother worked towards reunification.
3} There have been seven case plans throughout the
pendency of this matter. The initial case plan included
Mother and a different presumed father. However, later
genetic testing confirmed Father's paternity in 2016. Due
to the late establishment of paternity, Father had
insufficient time to establish a bond with E.A. and therefore
WCCS filed a new complaint to provide him with additional
time to work the case plan.
4} On October 6, 2016, the juvenile court proceeded
with an adjudicatory hearing and E.A. was found to be a
dependent child. On October 27, 2016, the juvenile court held
a dispositional hearing and granted temporary custody of E.A.
5} As part of Mother's case plan, she was to
submit to random drug screens, comply with
medication-assisted treatment, complete a drug and alcohol
assessment, complete a mental health assessment, refrain from
criminal activity, and to obtain and maintain income to
provide for E.A.'s needs.
6} Mother struggled with substance abuse until July
2017 when she successfully completed a drug treatment program
and was succeeding with her case plan. This changed in
September 2018 when Mother relapsed and tested positive for
oxycodone. Following the positive drug screen, Mother stopped
responding to the caseworker's phone calls and ceased
interaction with WCCS. Since that time, Mother has not seen
or communicated with E.A. and did not attend the permanent
custody hearing. She has not participated in this appeal.
7} When Father's paternity was established, WCCS
developed a case plan for him. As part of his case plan,
Father was to complete a mental health assessment and follow
all recommendations, prove that he had stable income,
maintain a safe and stable house, refrain from the use of
illegal substances, and refrain from criminal activity.
8} Father completed case plan assessments. The
assessments listed no issues with mental health or substance
abuse. Throughout the proceedings Father was employed, but
his housing situation was unverified. At the beginning of the
case, Father resided in a one-bedroom apartment with his
girlfriend. However, following separation from his
girlfriend, Father moved in with a friend in July 2016. The
caseworker attempted to see that home on multiple occasions
but was ultimately unsuccessful. Father admitted that he
could not take custody of E.A. because his housing, at the
time, was inappropriate. Father then moved in with another
friend in October 2016.
9} Father initially exercised supervised visitation
with E.A. Father's visitation was later increased to four
hours a week unsupervised in June 2016. Though he was
consistent with visitations in June and July of 2016, he
exercised only half of his visits in October and November
2016. Father cancelled visits on 14 separate occasions.
Furthermore, since the caseworker had not visited his house,
she was unable to increase his visitation hours. In November
2016, Father stopped visiting E.A. regularly. Father last saw
E.A. on January 27, 2017.
10} In August 2017, Father attended a court hearing
and indicated his desire to re engage with the case plan. As
a result, the caseworker requested that Father obtain updated
mental health and substance abuse assessments. Father did not