Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
IN RE JA.S., ET AL. Minor Children Appeal by T.S., Mother
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Juvenile Division Case Nos. AD16902386, AD16902387, and
Zukowsky Law, L.L.C., and Amichai Eitan Zukowsky, for
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Anthony R. Beery, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, for appellee C.C.D.C.F.S.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
RAYMOND C. HEADEN, JUDGE
1} Appellant T.S. ("Mother") appeals an order of
the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court ("juvenile
court") that granted permanent custody of her children,
Ja.S., A.S., and Jo.S., to the Cuyahoga County Division of
Child and Family Services ("CCDCFS" or "the
agency"). For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
Factual and Procedural History
2} T.S. is the mother of Ja.S., A.S., and Jo.S., three minor
children. The father of the children died prior to the
pendency of CCDCFS's action.
3} On January 23, 2018, a house raid at T.S.'s home
resulted in an indictment against T.S. for possession of
drugs and a firearm. The agency was initially granted
emergency temporary custody of Ja.S. on January 23, 2018, and
A.S. and Jo.S. on January 25, 2018. The juvenile court
subsequently modified the order to temporary custody to
4} An amended case plan dated February 22, 2018, required
T.S. to address her legal issues stemming from the raid and
her pending charges as well as substance abuse concerns and
her ability to provide for her children's basic needs.
T.S. was to obtain consistent mental health and psychiatric
care and take medications as prescribed. T.S. was to obtain
and maintain appropriate housing. T.S. and Ja.S. were to
fully participate in drug and mental health assessments and
follow the recommended services.
5} As of March 1, 2018, T.S. was recently released from a
short jail stay and her whereabouts were unknown. T.S. was
noted as bipolar with possible anxiety. T.S. would not
"engage without an attorney" and the agency had not
secured T.S.'s signature on the amended case plan. As of
March 1, 2018, T.S. and her mother had visited the children
twice since the agency received custody. CCDCFS had not yet
made referrals for T.S.'s substance abuse and mental
health services and counseling for her children.
6} On April 3, 2018, T.S. stipulated to temporary custody to
CCDCFS. The three children, Ja.S., age 14, and AS. and Jo.S.,
twins aged 13, were placed in foster care.
7} A semiannual administrative review ("SAR")
meeting was held on August 23, 2018. T.S. did not attend the
meeting in person, but the twins were present. T.S.
participated in the meeting by texting information to the
twins' telephone. T.S. had not demonstrated sobriety and
denied substance abuse issues but was engaged in counseling
services. Further, T.S. denied knowing the amended case plan
required her to submit to an alcohol or drug assessment but
stated her willingness to submit to those services and
provide a urine screen. T.S. was not receiving mental health
services or medication due to lack of insurance. T.S. had
been in her own housing for approximately five months and was
employed as a cleaner at a hotel. T.S. had weekly visitation
with the twins. The agency was to provide a referral for a
drug assessment and screening within 24 hours of the August
23, 2018 meeting. T.S. completed an alcohol and drug
assessment in the summer of 2018.
8} Based upon the criminal charges stemming from the January
2018 raid, T.S. pleaded guilty on September 6, 2018, to (1)
drug possession, a fifth-degree felony, with forfeiture
specifications, and (2) having weapons while under
disability, a third-degree felony, with forfeiture
specifications. T.S. tested positive for drugs on
September 11, 2018, and a capias was issued. T.S. returned
for sentencing on October 16, 2018, where she was (1)
sentenced to one and one-half years of community control on
each count, and (2) was required to complete an inpatient
drug-treatment program starting on October 16, 2018, at Nora
House and continue with vivitrol shots.
9} On October 23, 2018, CCDCFS filed a motion to modify
temporary custody to permanent custody.
10} Following completion of the court-ordered inpatient
drug-treatment program, T.S. enrolled in an intensive
outpatient treatment program at Stella Maris in November
2018. T.S. was discharged due to lack of attendance. Stella
Maris recommended T.S. attend AA meetings, obtain a sponsor,
identify a home group, and refrain from using mind- or
11} In February 2019, CCDCFS was unable to document
T.S.'s compliance with mental health initiatives and her
housing and employment situation. T.S.'s visits with the
children were inconsistent, although she saw the twins on
Thanksgiving and Christmas and CCDCFS noted that T.S. was
"appropriately engaged with her children." The
twins were very attentive to T.S. and regularly stated their
desire to be home with T.S. to support and protect her. Ja.S.
12} During a February 28, 2019 SAR meeting, T.S. texted Jo.S.
and A.S. to relay information to the agency but refused to
participate in the meeting or speak with a CCDCFS worker due
to her frustration with "the course of the case."
T.S. believed she had completed the case plan and had
paperwork to document her compliance. While T.S. reported
completion of an inpatient alcohol and drug treatment program
as well as an outpatient treatment at Stella Maris in
November 2018, T.S. did not reveal that she was discharged
from Stella Maris due to lack of attendance. T.S. refused to
perform an updated assessment.
13} When T.S. failed to report to the probation department on
March 1, 2019, a capias was issued. The court ordered T.S. to
return to Stella Maris. In March 2019, T.S. completed Stella
Maris's inpatient drug-treatment program and enrolled in
outpatient therapy. The previously issued capias was recalled
on April 10, 2019.
14} As of April 25, 2019 - the date of the custody trial -
T.S. was engaged with Stella Maris's outpatient program
and sober for 17 days after completing a two and
one-half-week inpatient program. T.S.'s attitude was
improved in comparison to when she previously underwent
substance abuse treatment at Stella Maris in the fall of
2018. T.S. received treatment for her mental health at the
same time that she received substance abuse treatment.
15} A custody trial was held on April 29, 2019. T.S. was
present at the trial, but did not testify. The court heard
testimony from CCDCFS extended services social worker, Alia
Neal, and the children's GAL. Based upon the trial
testimony, the juvenile court granted permanent custody of
the children to ...