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In re A.F.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Licking

December 30, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF: A.F. Dependent Child

          Appeal from the Licking County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, Case No. F2017-0458

         JUDGMENT: AFFIRMED

          FOR APPELLEE, LCJFS: WILLIAM C. HAYES LICKING CO. PROSECUTOR ANDREW P. ROWAN GUARDIAN AD LITEM: JANET STREMSKI

          FOR APPELLANT MOTHER: JERMAINE COLQUITT ATTORNEY FOR MINOR CHILDREN: ADAM JOHNSON

          Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J. Hon. William B. Hoffman, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J.

          OPINION

          Delaney, J.

         {¶1} Appellant S.C. ("Mother") appeals from the July 18, 2019 Judgment Entry of the Licking County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, terminating her parental rights and granting the motion for permanent custody of appellee Licking County Job & Family Services, Children Services Division (the "Agency").

         {¶2} The instant appeal is related to, but not consolidated with, In the Matter of B.F., Dependent Child, 5th Dist. Licking No. 19-CA-74.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶3} Mother has two minor children, A.F. and B.F. At the time of the evidentiary hearing, A.F. was 11 years old and B.F. was almost 9 years old. The children are presently placed together in a foster home with no plans to adopt. The children do not have special needs.

         {¶4} Father is B.F., Sr., who has not appeared throughout this action. His whereabouts are unknown and at the time of the evidentiary hearing, active warrants existed for his arrest. Father was served by publication.

         Mother's unsuccessful progress on case plan

         {¶5} This family came to the attention of the Agency on June 23, 2017. An ongoing caseworker was assigned and identified concerns of substance abuse and domestic violence with Mother. Specifically, Mother was the victim of domestic violence perpetrated by her paramour.[1] The case plan identified the following issues for Mother: substance abuse, unemployment, mental health, poor parenting, and domestic violence.

         {¶6} Mother at first seemed to do well on the case plan. She claimed she was no longer in a relationship with the former paramour, who had subjected her to domestic violence and substance abuse. Mother completed an AOD evaluation and was given further recommendations to pursue with LAPP. Mother failed to complete required mental health and domestic violence assessments, however.

         {¶7} The caseworker learned Mother was not forthcoming about her relationship status; she was still involved with the paramour, who was charged with domestic violence against her for an incident which occurred after the relationship purportedly ended.

         {¶8} Mother told the caseworker she lived alone, but upon unannounced visits to her residence, unidentified men would come to the door and state Mother was not home. One of these men identified himself as a maintenance man, but the same man was present on a different home visit, and was found alone in the home with his shirt off. The caseworker also observed men described as friends drinking alcoholic beverages in the home and determined they were not suitable to be around the children.

         {¶9} Mother missed scheduled appointments with the caseworker. Upon unannounced visits to the residence, Mother's car was present but no one answered the door.

         {¶10} Mother did not alleviate the Agency's concerns with her substance abuse, despite initially attending counseling and testing clean. Mother admitted she relapsed with methamphetamine and could not or would not admit when her last use was. Mother stopped attending substance abuse treatment and was discharged for failure to attend. She tested positive for methamphetamine and sometimes refused to screen altogether. She attended visitation with the children visibly under the influence.

         {¶11} Mother did obtain and maintain employment, but blamed her work hours for the inability to attend substance abuse and mental health treatment. Mother maintained housing throughout the case, but the residence was a concern due to the unidentified men noted supra and because Mother did not have separate bedrooms for the children.

         Maternal Grandfather requests home study

         {¶12} At the outset of the Agency's involvement with the family, the caseworker asked for possible kinship placements and Mother offered none, stating no one was willing or available to care for the children. When it became evident that Mother would not successfully complete the case plan and the Agency would ...


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