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In re Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of K.S.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

March 11, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF THE TERMINATION OF THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP OF: K.S. & A.S. (minor children); K.D. (Mother), Appellant-Respondent,
v.
THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES, Appellee-Petitioner

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE BENTON CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Rex W. Kepner, Judge. Cause Nos. 04C01-1211-JT-83 and 04C01-1211-JT-85.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL B. TROEMEL, Lafayette, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, ROBERT J. HENKE, DAVID E. COREY, Office of the Indiana Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

PYLE, Judge. MATHIAS, J., and BRADFORD, J., concur.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM DECISION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION

PYLE, Judge

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

K.J.D. (" Mother" ) appeals the involuntary termination of parental rights to her children, K.S. and A.S. (collectively " the children" ).

We affirm.

ISSUE

Whether the Department of Child Services (" DCS" ) presented clear and convincing evidence to support the termination of Mother's parental rights.[1]

FACTS

K.S. was born on March 20, 2003. Her sister, A.S., was born on February 19, 2007. On June 16, 2011, DCS received a report that Mother and the children were living in a garage that had no ventilation, water, bathroom, or windows. On June 21, 2011, DCS family case manager Angelina Brouillette (" FCM Brouillette" ) and Deputy Don Munson (" Deputy Munson" ) with the Benton County Sheriff's Department went to the home. Mother and the children were sleeping on couches in the garage. Deputy Munson and FCM Brouillette saw trash and broken glass on the floor along with food that had bugs crawling in it. All of Mother's and the children's belongings were stored in the garage. Mother's father, W.D., confirmed that Mother and the children had been living in his garage for about a month. Deputy Munson and FCM Brouillette told Mother to move the children into W.D.'s house. They also told Mother that they would return to check on Mother and the children. Mother was warned that if the children were found living in the garage again, DCS would take custody of the children.

On June 30, 2011, Deputy Munson and FCM Brouillette returned to the home at 7:30 A.M. and found Mother and the children sleeping in the garage. Mother claimed that they had only been in the garage for a few hours playing games with her brother before falling asleep. However, when preparing to take the children, Deputy Munson and FCM Brouillette did not need to go into the house to gather any of the children's items, as they were all in the garage. The children were removed from Mother's care. On July 1, 2011, the juvenile court held a detention hearing and found probable cause to believe the children were children in need of services (" CHINS" ). On July 7, 2011, Mother appeared with counsel at an initial hearing and entered a denial to the CHINS allegations. The juvenile court scheduled a fact-finding hearing for August 31, 2011. After conducting the fact-finding hearing, the juvenile court adjudicated the children as CHINS.

On September 7, 2011, the juvenile court held a dispositional hearing. At that hearing, Mother agreed with DCS's recommendation for services, and the juvenile court entered an extensive order detailing Mother's required services. Among many things, the juvenile court order required Mother to complete a psychological evaluation, participate in services recommended by DCS, particularly those geared toward improving and maintaining her mental health, and maintain a stable and nurturing environment for her children on a long-term basis.

The juvenile court held its first review hearing on November 16, 2011. Mother met consistently with service providers, but was not taking her medications on a regular basis. At times, Mother would tell FCM Brouillette that taking medications was not necessary and that she could address her problems on her own. Later, Mother would change her mind and resume taking her medication. In addition, her visits with the children were inconsistent, and Mother was living in a homeless shelter. While at the homeless shelter, Mother began a relationship with J.M. FCM Brouillette, Linda Harris, the Guardian Ad Litem (" GAL Harris" ), and the juvenile court all cautioned Mother to make her mental health and reunification with her children her main priority.

As to four-year-old A.S., FCM Brouillette testified that A.S. was not potty trained and that she could only say a few words before she would begin babbling as an infant. Since A.S.'s removal from Mother, her speech had improved slightly. According to testing performed on A.S., there were no medical causes for her delay in speaking or potty training. K.S. was getting good grades in school, but her teachers had concerns about her ability to focus. All parties agreed that services to reunite the family should continue, and the juvenile court scheduled another review hearing.

The next review hearing took place on February 15, 2012. At the time of the hearing, FCM Brouillette reported that Mother had checked herself into a psychiatric facility. Mother was attending therapy sessions but repeatedly asked to switch therapists because she was not getting along with them. Mother was only taking her medication on a regular basis when receiving inpatient treatment at a hospital. Mother continued to be homeless, periodically staying at a shelter in the Lafayette area. The court scheduled the matter for a permanency hearing.

The court held a permanency hearing on June 21, 2012. At this time, Mother and J.M. had leased an apartment and purchased a vehicle. Mother had also secured income in the form of Social Security. However, she had not visited with the children since January 2012. FCM Brouillette testified that Mother would miss or cancel appointments and only as recently as a week before the June hearing had called to reschedule missed appointments. Some of Mother's absences were due to inpatient treatment for her mental health problems. At this point, Mother had been in the hospital for treatment six (6) to nine (9) times. FCM Brouillette also stated that K.S. had begun therapy because she had been sexually abused by ...


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