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In re L.H.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

December 5, 2019

IN RE L.H. A Minor Child Appeal by L.H., Mother

          Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile Division Case No. AD-17-912703

          Prugh Law, L.L.C., and Leigh S. Prugh, for appellant

          Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting Attorney, and Amanda Wilson Orr and Julie Garswood, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          LARRY A. JONES, SR, JUDGE

         {¶ 1}Mother, L.H., appeals from the juvenile court's April 10, 2019 judgment granting the motion of the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services ("CCDCFS" or "Agency") for permanent custody of Mother's child, who has her same initials, L.H. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         Procedural History

         {¶ 2}In August 2017, the Agency filed its complaint, alleging the child, who was born in January 2017, to be a dependent child and seeking temporary custody. The Agency also filed a motion for predispositional custody of the child. According to CCDCFS, Mother failed to provide appropriate parenting to L.H. without prompting, failed to address his developmental needs, and had unsuitable housing. The child was assigned a guardian ad litem ("GAL"). In September 2017, the trial court held a hearing on the motion for predispositional custody; Mother stipulated to the motion, and L.H. was placed in the predispositional custody of CCDCFS.

         {¶ 3}In November 2017, a hearing on the complaint was held. CCDCFS made, and was granted, an oral motion to amend the complaint. Mother stipulated to the amended complaint, thereby admitting the following: (1) she has cognitive delays that interfere with her ability to provide appropriate care for L.H.; (2) L.H. has developmental issues that need to be addressed; (3) she needs to apply parenting skills from intensive in-home supportive services when she is alone with L.H.; and (4) she needs to maintain appropriate housing to care for L.H. The trial court adjudicated L.H. dependent.

         {¶4}In January 2018, the trial court held a hearing, at which Mother agreed to the Agency's request for temporary custody of L.H.; thus, the trial court terminated predispositional custody and granted CCDCFS temporary custody of L.H.

         {¶ 5}In August 2018, CCDCFS filed a motion to modify temporary custody to permanent custody. According to the Agency, Mother had failed to remedy the conditions that led to L.H.'s removal.[1] Mother's case worker, Juanita Holloway ("Holloway"), testified at the hearing. L.H.'s GAL summarized his report, in which he recommended permanent custody to the Agency would be in L.H.'s best interests. In an April 12, 2019 judgment, the trial court granted CCDCFS's motion for permanent custody. Mother now appeals, raising the following two assignments of error for our review:

I. CCDCFS should not have filed a motion for permanent custody because it did not meet the requirements of R.C. 2151.416(D)(3)(b).
II. Mother received ineffective assistance of counsel when her counsel neglected to modify her case plan to seek additional services.

         Factual History

         {¶ 6}The record demonstrates that Mother has cognitive delays. She engaged in services from the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities ("Board of DD"). Holloway, Mother's social worker from the Agency, testified that when L.H. was first born, a worker from the Board of DD moved in with Mother for three months to help her take care of L.H. Mother responded well to the worker and was, with the worker's help, able to take care of L.H. After the worker moved out, however, things did not go well for Mother in regard to taking care of L.H., which prompted CCDCFS's involvement.

         {¶ 7}The record shows that the Agency referred Mother for services, namely (1) the Nurturing Parenting Program, and (2) Help Me Grow. Mother participated in and completed the Nurturing Parenting Program. Holloway testified that she did not believe Mother benefitted from the program, however. Holloway believed Mother had tried, but she was not able to grasp the concepts of ...


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