from Marion County Common Pleas Court Family Division Trial
Court No. 2016 AB 0011
A. Workman for Appellant.
Kahle for Appellee.
Appellant Sarah Smith ("Sarah") brings this appeal
from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Marion
County, Family Division terminating her parental rights and
granting permanent custody to Appellee Marion County Children
Services ("the Agency"). On appeal, Sarah claims
that the trial court erred 1) in finding that the Agency made
reasonable efforts to reunify the family; 2) in finding that
the child could not be returned to the home in a timely
manner; and 3) in finding that the termination of the
parental rights was in the best interest of the child. For
the reasons set forth below, the judgment is affirmed.
This case arises from a complaint filed on January 12, 2016,
alleging that Am.S. and her siblings in the home were
dependent children as drug trafficking and drug use was
allegedly occurring in the home. Doc. 1. Am.S. was listed as
being born in January of 2015, to Sarah and Shane Smith
("Shane"), so was almost one year old at the time
of the complaint. Id. The complaint requested that
protective supervision be granted to the Agency and that
Am.S. would remain in the home. Doc. 1 and 3. On February 10,
2016, the trial court appointed Mary Kay Crowder
("Crowder") as the guardian ad litem for Am.S. Doc.
11. An adjudication hearing was held before a magistrate on
March 11, 2016, at which the magistrate found Am.S. to be a
dependent child. Doc. 18. The trial court subsequently
reviewed the evidence and adopted the decision of the
magistrate. Doc. 19. The magistrate held a hearing of
disposition on April 8, 2016, and ordered that Am.S., would
remain in the custody of his parents under the protective
supervision of the Agency. Doc. 20. The trial court adopted
this disposition on May 2, 2016. Doc. 21.
On September 9, 2016, the Agency filed a motion for an
emergency removal of Am.S. and three of her
siblings from the home. Doc. 25. The basis for the
removal was the continued use of drugs by Sarah and Shane;
alleged instances of domestic violence between Sarah and
Shane; eviction from the family home; the children failing to
attend school; and failure to follow the safety plan.
Id. The trial court granted emergency custody to the
Agency. Doc. 26. An amended case plan was submitted by the
Agency on September 15, 2016. Doc. 28. Per the case plan,
Am.S. was placed in a certified foster home on September 9,
2016. Id. As part of the case plan, Sarah and Shane
were required to complete assessments for addiction and
mental health issues within 30 days, and follow the
recommendations. Id. Sarah and Shane were also
required to engage in services for domestic violence issues
within 30 days. Id. Both were required to submit to
random drug screens. Id. Am.S. was originally placed
in a foster home with one of her older brothers. Doc.86. On
October 27, 2016, Am.S. and her older brother were moved to a
second foster home so that they could be placed with their
older sister. Doc. 32. Am.S. remained in the foster home with
two of her siblings until June 8, 2017, when she was moved to
a different foster home. Doc. 42. On June 20, 2017, Am.S. was
again moved to another foster home. Doc. 43. Am.S. was then
moved to a fifth foster home on October 16, 2017 after the
prior placement was disrupted because the foster parents
found Am.S.'s behavior to be "hindering their family
unit." Doc. 86 at 7.
On June 11, 2018, the Agency filed a motion for permanent
custody of Am.S. and her siblings. Doc. 79. The motion
alleged that Sarah and Shane had 1) failed to follow through
with the drug treatment recommendations; 2) continued to use
drugs in the presence of the children; 3) failed to comply
with requested drug screens at times; 4) failed to maintain
appropriate legal income; 5) failed to maintain appropriate
housing; 6) failed to implement parenting skills taught to
them; 7) failed to refrain from criminal activity; and 8)
engaged in domestic violence. Id. Crowder filed her
report to the court on June 25, 2018. Doc. 86. Crowder noted
that Am.S.had recently began attachment therapy. Id.
at 7. She noted that Am.S. mentioned her siblings and Sarah
weekly and does well at the visits. Id. She also
noted the following.
[Am.S.] is doted upon by the Kreiders. She appears
comfortable and happy in their home. She has thrived from the
attention and focus that is possible with only one child in
the home. The Kreiders are committed to ensuring [Am.S.] gets
the treatment and ther apy that s he n eeds,
and they hope to adopt h er if the c ourt grants permanent
Id. Based upon everything she had reviewed, Crowder
stated that she did not believe Sarah would be able to care
for the children in the near future. Id. at 8-9.
Crowder concluded that although she hoped the siblings could
maintain contact with each other, it was her opinion that it
would be in Am.S.'s best interest to grant the
Agency's motion for permanent custody. Id. at 9.
Crowder filed a supplemental report on November 27, 2018.
Doc. 137. In that report, Crowder did not change her
recommendation about granting the Agency permanent custody of
Am.S. Id. at 12.
Hearings on the motion for permanent custody were held on
September 18 and October 31, 2018. Doc. 139. On December 27,
2018, the trial court issued its judgment terminating the
parental rights of Sarah and Shane. Id. In its
judgment, the trial court made the following findings.
The evidence shows that the children have been placed
in various foster homes. Each child has experienced
significant trauma and show signs of post-traumatic stress
disorder. The children are at various levels of treatment for
their trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
[Am.S.] is 3 years old. She also exhibits
aggressiveness as well as manipulation. The child is involved
in attachment therapy and play therapy to help her bond.
[Am.S.] may have cognitive issues as well.
Id. at 3. The court found that Am.S. had been in the
temporary custody of the Agency for 12 out of the prior 22
months. Id. at 3. The court also found
that the parents had failed to remedy the conditions which
required Am.S. to be removed from the home and that the
Agency had made reasonable efforts to reunify the family.
Id. at 4. The trial court then granted the Agency
permanent custody of Am.S. and her siblings. Id at
4-5. Sarah filed a timely notice of appeal from this
judgment. Doc. 145. On appeal, she raises the
following three assignments of error.
Assignment of Error
trial court erred in finding that the Agency made reasonable
efforts to reunify the family as required under Ohio
Assignment of Error
trial court erred when it determined that the children could
not be returned in a timely manner.
Assignment of Error
decision of the trial court is not in the best interest of
the child and the determination was against the manifest
weight and sufficiency of the evidence.
interest of clarity, the assignments of error will be
discussed out of order.