Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Brown
FROM BROWN COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION
Case No. 20163007
Law Firm, Scott A. Hoberg, for appellant,
Denise S. Barone, for appellant,
Zachary A. Corbin, Brown County Prosecuting Attorney, W.
Scott Wilson, for appellee.
Christine D. Tailer, guardian ad litem.
1} Appellants, the mother and father of L.S. and
J.S. (respectively, "Mother" and
"Father"), appeal the decision of the Brown County
Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, granting permanent
custody of their two children to appellee, Brown County
Children Services ("BCCS"). For the reasons
outlined below, we affirm.
and Procedural History
2} On February 5, 2016, BCCS filed a complaint
requesting protective supervision of J.S. J.S., who was born
on January 1, 2010, was five years old at the time the
complaint was filed. In support of its complaint, BCCS
alleged J.S. was an abused, neglected, and dependent child.
These allegations arose after BCCS received a report that
Mother's behaviors were "all over the place"
during a telephone interview regarding her eligibility for
food stamps. A subsequent investigation revealed J.S. was
often absent from school and in jeopardy of truancy charges
being filed against Mother and Father. The investigation also
revealed that J.S. had to "sneak food into her
bedroom" and was oftentimes "hungry at home."
The investigation further revealed that J.S. had reported
seeing "people doing drugs and putting needles in their
arms." These allegations ultimately resulted in both
Mother and Father testing positive for benzodiazepine,
barbiturates, methamphetamine, opiates, oxazepam,
phenobarbital, and suboxone.
3} Upon receiving BCCS's complaint, the juvenile
court granted interim temporary custody of J.S. to BCCS. The
juvenile court also appointed J.S. with a guardian ad litem.
Following her appointment, the guardian ad litem filed a
report noting that she had gone to the family home and found
it to be "littered with garbage and smelled of cat
urine." The guardian ad litem also reported that Mother
admitted to a long history of illegal drug and alcohol abuse
by both herself and her family. Mother further admitted that
her history of substance abuse and the pressure of BCCS's
recent involvement in her and her children's lives was
putting her in danger of relapsing. The guardian ad litem
additionally noted that Mother had agreed that J.S. should be
placed in the temporary custody of BCCS "as long as she
would be able to have ample visitation with her child."
4} Upon receiving the guardian ad litem's
report, the juvenile court granted both Mother and Father
weekly supervised visitation time with J.S. Shortly
thereafter, on March 15, 2016, the magistrate issued an order
that found Mother's supervised visitation time had been
revoked due to her again testing positive for
opiates. A case plan was then established that
required both Mother and Father to complete a mental health
evaluation, a drug and alcohol assessment, parenting and
anger management classes, as well as comply with all
scheduled and random drug screens. Mother and Father were
also ordered to obtain both safe and stable housing,
employment, and income to meet J.S.'s basic needs.
Although likely unknowingly, the record indicates Mother was
at that time approximately one month pregnant with LS.
5} On May 9, 2016, BCCS filed an amended complaint
requesting it be granted temporary custody of J.S. rather
than merely protective supervision Two days later, the
magistrate held a review hearing on the matter. Neither
Mother nor Father appeared at this hearing. However, while
not appearing at this hearing, evidence was presented
indicating that Father had been attending his supervised
visitation time with J.S. Evidence was also presented that
indicated Father had begun substance abuse treatment and
anger management classes. But, as it relates to Mother, the
record indicated Mother had not had any visitation time with
J.S. for nearly six weeks. The record also indicated Mother
had not yet begun any of the services set forth in her case
plan. This includes both mental health and substance abuse
6} On July 8, 2016, the magistrate issued an order
that instructed BCCS to file another amended complaint to
accurately reflect J.S.'s name. The magistrate also
ordered BCCS to modify Father's weekly supervised
visitation time so that his visitation time with J.S. did not
interfere with his case plan services. However, although his
visitation time was later modified to better accommodate his
schedule, Father's visitation time was nevertheless
revoked after Father did not appear for three consecutive
visits. As for Mother, the magistrate found Mother was then
incarcerated in a local jail on charges alleging she had
committed forgery and theft, both fifth-degree felonies.
Mother was ultimately convicted of both charges and sentenced
to 20 months in prison.
7} On August 29, 2016, the magistrate issued a
dispositional decision granting temporary custody of J.S. to
BCCS. The magistrate reached this decision upon finding J.S.
was an abused, neglected, and dependent child. Approximately
three months later, on November 23, 2016, Mother gave birth
to L.S. while in prison. That same day, BCCS filed a complaint
requesting temporary custody of L.S. In support of its
complaint, BCCS alleged L.S. was also an abused, neglected,
and dependent child. BCCS supported these allegations by
arguing Mother could not provide the necessary care for L.S.
due to her current incarceration, whereas Father could not
provide care for L.S. because his whereabouts were then
unknown. Upon receiving BCCS's complaint, the juvenile
court granted interim temporary custody of L.S. to BCCS. The
juvenile court also appointed L.S. with a guardian ad litem.
8} On January 3, 2017, BCCS moved the juvenile court
to grant legal custody of J.S. to her maternal aunt and
uncle. Prior to the filing of that motion, J.S.
had been in her aunt and uncle's care for approximately
three months and was, at that time, reportedly "doing
well." BCCS supported its motion by noting that Mother
was still incarcerated and that, even before being sent to
prison, Mother had not engaged in any of the necessary case
plan services set forth in her case plan. BCCS also noted
that Father, who already had two of his other children
removed from his care, was awaiting trial on a charge of
misdemeanor assault. BCCS further noted that Father had not
"been cooperative with the agency." This included
Father refusing to take at least one drug screen.
9} On January 17, 2017, the magistrate issued a
dispositional decision granting temporary custody of L.S. to
BCCS upon finding L.S. was also an abused, neglected, and
dependent child. Approximately three months later, BCCS moved
to withdraw its motion requesting legal custody of J.S. be
awarded to aunt and uncle. The record indicates BCCS moved to
withdraw its motion after it received reports that J.S. had
lost 15 pounds in just a matter of weeks while under aunt and
uncle's care. BCCS had also received reports that J.S.
had suffered "emotional abuse and medical abuse"
while living in aunt and uncle's home. This included an
assessment that found J.S. suffered from "excessive
brain washing." Upon receiving these reports, BCCS
removed J.S. from her aunt and uncle's home and placed
her in a foster home. There is no dispute that the foster
home where J.S. was placed was the same foster home where
L.S. was placed shortly after his birth.
10} On May 15, 2017, the magistrate held another
review hearing. Following this hearing, the magistrate issued
an order finding J.S. had been removed from her aunt and
uncle's care after BCCS received reports that they were
telling J.S. "horrible things about her parents."
This included a finding that aunt and uncle had told J.S.
"that her parents chose drugs over her." This,
according to the magistrate, caused J.S. to suffer additional
serious mental health issues. The magistrate also found
J.S.'s aunt and uncle had placed J.S. on several drugs
without BCCS's knowledge or consent; namely, concentra,
ritalin, and clonidine. The magistrate further found that
while Father had completed his substance abuse treatment,
Father did not have any follow-up treatment, did not have a
sponsor, and did not have a sobriety support system. The
magistrate additionally found that Father did not have any
employment, income, or independent housing.
11} On May 18, 2017, BCCS moved for permanent
custody of both J.S. and L.S. In support of its motion, BCCS
again noted that Mother had not completed any of the required
case plan services prior to being sent to prison. On the
other hand, as it relates to Father, BCCS noted that Father
had completed drug treatment and anger management classes.
Father, however, had not completed the required parenting
classes nor had Father obtained safe and stable housing,
employment, or income. BCCS further noted that J.S. had been
in several placements following her removal from Mother and
Father's care. This included J.S.'s placement with
her aunt and uncle that resulted in "allegations of
neglect that were ...