Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Licking
appeal from the Licking County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Division, Case Nos. F2017-0667, F2017-0668,
F2017-0669 & F2017-0670
WILLIAM C. HAYES Licking County Prosecutor By: MANDY R.
DELEEUW Assistant Prosecutor Guardian Ad Litem STACY JEWELL
LYN GREEN For - Benecia George CAROLYN E. FITTRO Attorney
Advocate SCOTT SIDNER
Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon.
John W. Wise, J.
Appellant-mother ["Mother] appeals the July 26, 2019
Judgment Entry of the Licking County Court of Common Pleas,
Juvenile Court Division, which terminated her parental rights
with respect to her minor children and granted permanent
custody of the children to appellee, Licking County Jobs and
Family Services ["LCJFS"].
and Procedural History
Mother and Father were married on February 5, 2006. [1T. at
The couple has four children: Child 1, b. 09.11.2006; Child
2, b. 01.09.2008; Child 3, b. 12.30.2008 and Child 4, b.
On September 21, 2017, LCJFS requested an ex-parte order for
Emergency Shelter Care Custody. An order of Protective
Supervision expired on June 9, 2017, ending a previous case
that had been opened since August 2014. It had been alleged
that the family's home was in deplorable conditions and a
potential eviction was being filed against the parents. It
was also alleged that the parents had issues in their
relationship and with drug use. On September 22, 2017, the
children were found to be dependent minors and were placed in
the temporary custody of LCJFS. The next day, LCJFS filed a
Motion for Permanent Custody of all of the children. The
matter was set for a contested hearing and was heard by a
Magistrate on February 12, 13, and March 1, 2018. The
Magistrate denied the LCJFS' Motion by Judgment Entry
filed April 2, 2018. [Docket Entry 72]. The magistrate's
opinion was adopted by the trial court by Judgment Entry
filed April 2, 2018. [Docket Entry 73].
On August 22, 2018, LCJFS filed a second Motion for Permanent
Custody, with support from the Guardian ad Litem
("GAL"). The GAL filed her report on January 22,
2019. The matter was then heard on January 29, 2019, February
6, 2019 and April 9, 2019. The court also conducted an
in-camera interview with the children.
LCJFS began working with this family on June 9, 2014. All
four children were adjudicated dependent and ordered into the
temporary custody of LCJFS on August 6, 2014.
On May 9, 2016, the children were returned to the parents
subject to a Protective Supervision Order ["PSO"]
for six months. The PSO was extended an additional six months
on November 29, 2016.
Mary Ellen Greenwaldt, a social worker that had been involved
with the family, testified that during the first case the
family's issues were homelessness, financial instability,
mental health, employment and finances. LCJFS made referrals
to counseling, housing, parenting classes, mental health
counselors, and homemaking assistance. Throughout the first
case, the parents had difficulty completing a monthly budget
and struggled to ensure their monthly bills were paid. In
February 2016, the social worker and Alma Lease, the
homemaker, had a family team meeting with the family to
discuss the lingering concerns, which were the cleanliness of
the home, unstable finances and personal hygiene. The family
made progress and LCJFS began transitioning the children
LCJFS provided the family with new beds for the children,
cleaning supplies, closet systems and other items to help set
the family up for success once the case closed. LCJFS
assisted in showing the family how to clean and physically
helped them clean the rooms of the children and build the
beds. The PSO ultimately expired on June 9, 2017.
Three months later, in September 2017, a referral came into
LCJFS. Social worker Greenwaldt went back to the home. She
observed deplorable conditions. She testified the home looked
completely different from when LCJFS closed their case in
June 2017. Some of the furniture LCJFS had purchased was
still unbuilt and some was broken. There was trash throughout
the home. A friend of the father's was living the
basement. He was asleep with an unknown woman. The social
worker observed drug paraphernalia in the basement. Due to
the presence of drug paraphernalia, drug screens were
requested of both parents. Father tested positive for
methamphetamine. Mother admitted to using methamphetamine one
After the first permanent custody trial, in an attempt to
improve efforts at working with the family, LCJFS assigned
social worker Matthew Tracy to work with the parents. Social
worker Greenwaldt continued to work with the children. Mr.
Tracy was assigned the case on May 21, 2018. He created an
updated Case Plan with the goal of reunification, which was
filed on June 1, 2018. He created this plan with input from
the parents, with four primary areas to work on: 1) housing
(both maintaining a home and ensuring the home was clean and
appropriate); 2) finances and budget; 3) substance abuse
issues; and 4) mental health issues. Mr. Tracy did not
believe the substance abuse was a problem for either Mother
or Father. He testified he does "believe the parents
that it was probably a one or two-time thing" but he has
not seen signs of ongoing issues.
Testimony established that the parents had maintained their
home for the entirety of the case. However, there were
concerns expressed that the parents could not maintain the
cleanliness of their home, by Alma Lease, a family aide and
Caseworker Tracy testified that an aspect of the case plan
dealt with budgeting. Testimony confirmed that the parents
had attempted to do budgeting with LCJFS and Mid-Ohio, a
counseling service. However, LCJFS continued to have concerns
because the parents had only provided them with a budget
listing their major expenses and had not reported to him the
miscellaneous expenses and receipts.
Another aspect of the case plan counseling for the parents.
Testimony confirmed that the parents had requested this
objective be listed on the case plan and that both parents
were engaged in individual counseling and marriage
Home visits were another area of concern for Mr. Tracy.
Unannounced home visits have been a struggle with this
family. He made "many attempts." Since he began his
involvement with the family, Mr. Tracy ...