Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Guernsey
appeal from the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Division, Case No. 17 JC 00304
Mother MARK PERLAKY
Appellee MELISSA WILSON
JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J.
Hon. Earle E. Wise, J.
Appellant-Mother appeals from the August 1, 2019 judgment
entry of the Guernsey County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile
Division, terminating her parental rights and granting
permanent custody of J.H. to Guernsey County Children's
& Procedural History
On August 1, 2017, GCCS filed a complaint and a motion for
emergency temporary custody, alleging J.H., who was born on
April 21, 2011, is a neglected child pursuant to R.C.
2151.03(b) and/or (c), and a dependent child pursuant to R.C.
2151.04(b) and/or (c). The complaint alleges as follows: GCCS
was notified that a drug raid had been conducted at the home
of Grandmother, J.H.'s legal custodian; Grandmother was
arrested at the scene; officers found crack cocaine and drug
paraphernalia in the home that was laying in plain sight and
within the reach of the child; officers reported the home was
in deplorable condition; Grandmother provided GCCS a name for
potential kinship placement, but that person was out of town
and unavailable to care for J.H.; the whereabouts of
J.H.'s Father are unknown; J.H.'s Mother is
incarcerated at the Northeast Pre-Release Center; Grandmother
remains incarcerated at the Guernsey County Jail; and J.H. is
in need of a safe, stable, and secure living environment. The
trial court issued an ex parte order of custody of J.H. to
The trial court held a probable cause hearing on August 1,
2017. In an August 8, 2017 judgment entry, the trial court
found probable cause to believe J.H. is a dependent or
Mother filed a motion to be added to the case plan on August
21, 2017. The trial court held an adjudicatory hearing on
October 6, 2017. In a judgment entry, the trial court found
J.H. to be a dependent child pursuant to R.C. 2151.04(C).
Upon request of GCCS, the trial court dismissed the
allegations of neglect. The trial court found reasonable
efforts were made by GCCS to keep the child in his own home
by looking for kinship placement for the child.
On October 31, 2017, the trial court held a dispositional
hearing. In a November 2, 2018 judgment entry, the trial
court added Mother to the case plan, continued the temporary
custody of J.H. with GCCS, and found reasonable efforts were
made by GCCS to keep the child in his own home.
The trial court held review hearings on January 29, 2018 and
April 23, 2018 and issued judgment entries on January 31,
2018 and April 25, 2018 continuing the temporary custody of
J.H. with GCCS and finding reasonable efforts were made by
GCCS to keep the child in his own home by looking for a
kinship placement for the child, providing a safety plan,
providing support services, providing mental health services,
providing mental health counseling for the child, providing
case management, providing financial support for the
custodian, and providing visitation with the custodian. In
the January 31, 2018 judgment entry, the trial court also
approved the amended case plan dated January 26, 2018.
The trial court held a review hearing on July 19, 2018 and
issued a judgment entry on July 25, 2018. The trial court
granted GCCS' motion for extension of temporary custody.
Further, the trial court found GCCS made diligent and
reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan by working
a reunification plan for Mother and Grandmother and also that
GCCS made reasonable efforts to keep the child in his own
home by looking for a kinship placement for the child,
referrals for services, providing case management, and
providing visitation with Grandmother.
GCCS filed a motion for permanent custody on October 2, 2018.
GCCS the filed a motion to dismiss the permanent custody
motion, stating they were exploring recently discovered
kinship options. On December 21, 2018, upon the motion of
GCCS, the trial court dismissed the motion for permanent
custody. GCCS filed a second motion for permanent custody on
April 2, 2019. The trial court held a hearing on the motion
on July 30, 2019.
At the beginning of the hearing, the trial court noted Father
failed to appear. Counsel for Father did not know his
whereabouts and last had contact with him in November and
thus requested the trial court continue the hearing. The
trial court denied the motion to continue.
Kendra Winland ("Winland") is a case manager and
chemical dependency counselor at Cedar Ridge who began
working with Grandmother in April of 2018 when Grandmother
came for an assessment. Grandmother was diagnosed with
anxiety disorder and cocaine abuse. Grandmother did not
complete her treatment and was discharged unsuccessfully in
October of 2018 because she did not show up for her
appointments or respond to the letters sent by the agency.
Grandmother took three drug screens while with the agency, in
April, May, and June of 2018. She failed all three screens
for testing positive for cocaine. Grandmother denied using
cocaine and told Winland she must have come in contact with
it while cleaning and it was in her home because of her son.
Nancy McIntire ("McIntire"), a counselor with
Guernsey County Alcohol and Drug Services, met Grandmother
when she came for an assessment on November 6, 2018.
Grandmother was diagnosed with mild cocaine stimulant use
disorder and the recommendation from the assessment was
individual counseling weekly. Grandmother did not
successfully complete counseling with the agency and her case
is open, but in inactive status because of her failure to
attend appointments. Grandmother kept eleven counseling
appointments, with the last being on April 8, 2019.
Grandmother took five drug screens when with the agency, two
in November of 2018, two in January of 2019, and one in March
of 2019. She tested positive for cocaine in all of the drug
screens. Grandmother denied using cocaine. McIntire found
this concerning because, even though the levels of cocaine in
her tests were coming down, McIntire could not start to work
with and treat a drug addiction if someone does not admit
they have a problem.
Deanne McNerney ("McNerney"), a pretrial bond
officer at the Cambridge Municipal Court, monitored
Grandmother when she was placed on bond through the court.
The bond conditions included no alcohol, no non-prescribed
drugs, and random drug screens. Grandmother took two drug
screens for McNerney, both in April of 2019, and tested
positive for cocaine in both screens. Grandmother failed to
appear for drug screens in May of 2019. McNerney testified
Grandmother denied using cocaine despite the positive drug
Kelsey Wolfe ("Wolfe") is the kindship program
coordinator at GCCS who looked into several kinship
placements for J.H. Two individuals, L.M. and R.S., never
responded to letters or phone calls in June of 2019. In June
of 2019, T.T. expressed interest in adopting J.H. as her
family owned a daycare J.H. attended. Wolfe informed T.T.
that J.H. was not available for adoption, but he was
available for a kinship placement and the agency would look
into it; however, Wolfe never heard from T.T. after that.
Wolfe testified she very clearly indicated to T.T. that if
she was interested in a kinship placement, she should let
Wolfe know. At the request of Mother, in March of 2019, the
agency looked into M.H. However, the agency did not have a
working phone number or valid address for M.H. In January of
2019, the agency explored M.D., but they could not find a
valid address or working phone number for her. They agency
explored A.W. in November of 2018. A.W. lived in Pennsylvania
and began the Interstate Compact process, but A.W. ultimately
withdrew from consideration in March of 2019.
The agency explored M.R. in October of 2018. M.R. had an
extensive criminal and child welfare history. Though she
reported she had made changes in her life, M.R. had a
positive drug screen and thus was removed from consideration
in January of 2019. B.S. was considered in August of 2018,
but she would not return phone calls or letters from the
agency, so she was removed from consideration in October of
2018. K.M. was considered in September of 2018, but was
denied due to her criminal history and child welfare history.
Also in September of 2018, the agency mailed letters to J.H.
and V.H. and did not receive a response to either of the
letters. In June of 2018, M.P.'s name was provided, but
she was denied due to her child welfare history. In March of
2018, J.J. asked to be considered, but ultimately felt she
could not handle the child's behavior.
In April of 2018, the agency considered F.H. and J.H., but
there were concerns about their health, so Wolfe asked them
to complete medical evaluations. They did not complete any
evaluations and were then not considered when Grandmother
moved in with them in June of 2018 due to Grandmother's
drug use. The agency considered D.T. in August of 2017, but
she was denied due to her child welfare history. Wolfe
testified that D.T. was substantiated as a perpetrator of
neglect in 2007.
In March of 2019, the agency considered J.S., but he withdrew
from the process in April of 2019 due to his wife being in
jail for murder and too much family drama going on for him to
take the child. J.S. also believed Mother and Father stole
his daughter's car. Wolfe testified J.S. contacted the
agency the week prior to the permanent custody hearing, but
she did not contact him because he has a very extensive
violent criminal history that would make it very difficult to
place a child in his home. J.S.'s last felony conviction
was in 2008. Additionally, J.S. was last involved with the
child welfare system in 2015.
Wolfe testified that, as of the date of the hearing, there
were no ...