Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
IN RE S.H. Minor Child [Appeal by V. H., Mother]
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Juvenile Court Division Case No. AD17902987
Valore, for appellant
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Rachel Eisenberg, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, for appellee.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
MICHELLE J. SHEEHAN, JUDGE.
1} Appellant V.H. ("mother") appeals from a
judgment of the juvenile court granting permanent custody of
her child S.H. to the Cuyahoga County Division of Children
and Family Services ("CCDCFS" or
"agency"). After a careful review of the record and
applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the juvenile court.
Facts and Procedural History
2} In February 2017, S.H., 14 at the time, was removed from
mother's home by law enforcement. Three days after the
removal, CCDCFS filed a complaint alleging S.H. to be abused
due to domestic violence in the home. On June 1, 2017, S.H.
was adjudicated abused and neglected. On June 6, 2017,
temporary custody was granted to the agency. In its decision
granting temporary custody, the trial court noted that mother
was refusing to visit the child and disagreed with visits
outside the home, and that S.H. did not feel safe in
mother's home and did not want to return to the home at
On January 22, 2018, the agency filed a motion for permanent
custody. On June 26, 2018, the trial court held a hearing on
the motion, but denied the motion and continued the
agency's temporary custody of S.H.
4} On August 9, 2018, the agency filed a second motion for
permanent custody. On February 27, 2019, the court held a
hearing on the motion. At the hearing, the court heard
testimony from the assigned social worker in this case,
mother, and S.H.'s guardian ad litem ("GAL").
S.H.'s counsel also spoke on her behalf.
Social Worker's Testimony
Alia Neal, the social worker in this case, testified
regarding S.H.'s custodial history and the agency's
efforts in providing services to mother for purposes of
reunification. The agency was first involved in February
2017. S.H., 14 at the time, was removed by the police from
the home due to a physical altercation between her and an
adult sister who lived in the home. S.H. had marks on her
face and her arm from the altercation, and her sister was
subsequently charged with domestic violence. Mother was
present during the altercation but did not intervene.
6} When the social worker was assigned to the case in April
2017, S.H. revealed to her that her half-brothers raped her
when she was 13. S.H. also told her therapist later about the
rape during an individual therapy session. S.H. did not want
to return to the home because of her brothers. Both of them
were currently charged with delinquency due to the
sexual-assault allegations. One of them still lived in the
home at the time of the permanent custody hearing.
7} The agency's case plan included a parenting class for
mother, family counseling for mother and S.H., and individual
counseling for S.H. Mother completed the parenting class,
which addressed parent-teen communication skills, and S.H.
regularly attended her counseling sessions.
8} The agency's efforts to provide family counseling,
however, were not successful. Initially, the family therapist
was to meet with mother and S.H. in S.H.'s foster home,
but the social worker had difficulties scheduling the
sessions because of mother's work schedule. When S.H. was
placed in another foster home, family therapy in the foster
home was not an option, and mother indicated she could not go
to the therapist's office due to her work schedule and
her lack of transportation.
9} The social worker then tried to arrange family therapy in
mother's home where all family members would attend.
However, while that arrangement was being made, S.H. and
mother had a verbal altercation in May 2018, and the two
stopped communicating with each other. S.H. did not wish to
speak to her mother any longer, making in-home therapy
impossible to arrange.
10} In August 2018, mother and S.H. started speaking with
each other again. The social worker tried to refer them to a
new family counseling service. However, because of inadequate
paperwork prepared by the social worker, the social
worker's request was not properly submitted until
November 2018. The service provider declined to provide the
in-home therapy, explaining mother had not visited the child
sufficiently for the in-home therapy to be effective. As a
final resort, the social worker contacted S.H.'s
therapist to explore the possibility of family therapy with
her, but the therapist considered it a conflict due to
S.H.'s ongoing individual therapy with the therapist.
Consequently, the family counseling prescribed in the case
plan never took place over the course of this custody matter.
11} Regarding visits between S.H. and her mother, after
S.H.'s removal from the home in February 2017, there was
one or two visits in March 2017. From April to August 2017,
there were only two or three visits because mother had
difficulties identifying dates when she could be available.
These visits had taken place in the foster home. From
November 2017 to January 2018, the foster family arranged for
S.H. to have visits in the mother's home. However, after
a January 2018 visit in mother's home, S.H. reported to
the social worker that her half-brothers were in the home
during the visit and she no longer wanted to have visits in
12} Consequently, the social worker tried to arrange
out-of-home visitation but without success, because mother
could not provide dates when she could be available. Then,
the incident of verbal altercation in May 2018 between S.H.
and mother rendered any further visitations impossible
because S.H. no longer wished to speak to her mother. Mother
initially did not want to communicate with S.H. either after
the altercation, but later indicated she was willing to visit
with S.H. in her home provided S.H. was
"respectful." S.H., however, was unwilling to have
visits either in the home or in the community.
13} The social worker testified that S.H. suffers from
anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She
had stayed in a Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital's
psychiatric unit for having suicidal thoughts and was known
to cut herself. S.H. changed foster homes multiple times due
to her negative behaviors in these homes, such as stealing
from the foster home.
14} The social worker had discussed the custody issue with
S.H. Because S.H. and her mother had difficulties positively
communicating with each other, S.H. did not want her mother
involved in her life in any way. The social worker discussed
PPLA (Planned Permanent Living Arrangement), an alternative
to permanent custody, with S.H. S.H. vacillated between the
two options but eventually rejected PPLA, because under that
arrangement, mother would still be making decisions about her
life. The social worker talked to S.H. to ensure that she
understood the consequences of permanent custody. Ultimately,
S.H. was steadfast about her choice for permanent custody. In
the social worker's assessment, S.H., 16 at ...