from the Monroe Circuit Court The Honorable Frances G. Hill,
Judge Trial Court Cause Nos. 53C06-1711-JC-851,
53C06-1711-JC-852, 53C06-1711-JC-853, 53C06-1711-JC-854,
Attorney for Appellant Kyle K. Dugger Monroe County Public
Defender's Office Bloomington, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Katherine A. Cornelius Deputy Attorney General
V.B. (Mother) appeals the trial court's order finding her
five minor children to be children in need of services
(CHINS). She argues that she was denied procedural due
process and that the evidence is insufficient to support the
CHINS adjudication. Although we have significant concerns
about the way in which the Department of Child Services (DCS)
litigated this case, we find that Mother has waived some of
her arguments and that the others do not amount to due
process violations. We also find the evidence sufficient.
Therefore, we affirm.
In June 2017, the children were removed from Mother's
care and custody and DCS filed a petition alleging that the
children were CHINS. DCS alleged that Mother was under the
influence of drugs while parenting the children. A
factfinding hearing began on September 12, 2017, at which
time DCS was unable to provide testimony regarding
Mother's drug screens because of an improper request for
telephonic testimony. DCS requested a continuance, which was
granted. The factfinding hearing continued on October 25,
2017. DCS presented no new evidence. The trial court denied
and dismissed the CHINS petition for lack of sufficient
evidence on November 7, 2017.
On November 8, 2017, DCS filed a new petition alleging that
the children are CHINS. The new petition was based on positive
drug screens, the erratic behavior of the children's
father at a child and family team meeting, and the
parents' struggle to pay their utility bills. The
factfinding hearing took place on December 19, 2017. At this
hearing, DCS presented the following evidence supporting its
• Two of the children testified about sometimes being
hungry, suspecting that their parents were using drugs,
having a dirty and cluttered home, and their parents'
lacking attempts to homeschool them.
• The children's paternal grandmother (and relative
placement) testified about general concerns regarding the
children's lack of consistent and structured education,
the uncleanliness of the parents' home, the parents'
financial struggles, and the parents' past struggles with
• With respect to the children's education, the
parents do not trust public schools and have ostensibly been
homeschooling the children. But the homeschooling was
inconsistent and ineffective. For example, when paternal
grandmother enrolled the children in public school, the
nine-year-old did not know the alphabet and was unable to
write his name.
• The children's maternal grandmother testified
about general concerns regarding the uncleanliness of the
parents' home and the parents' financial struggles.
• The Family Case Manager (FCM) testified regarding
concerns about the cleanliness of the home, the parents'
financial struggles, and the lack of a consistent and
structured education for the children.
offered no evidence that parents had provided any positive
drug screens. Following the presentation of the evidence,
counsel for Mother raised the following argument:
These kids have been detained since, um, I think the end of
June. The end of June the children were removed and the
parents requested a contested fact-finding hearing. They
didn't get it until September, um, where DCS put on
evidence and then was allowed to continue it for another
month until the end of October and they said that they were
gonna bring more evidence because they hadn't put on
enough. Um, they came back and didn't put on any new
evidence and the Court dismissed the CHINS petition and DCS
immediately refiled and said there was gonna be new evidence
that would be presented that had come to light, um, in the
time since they have [sic] lost their initial petition. And
so parents requested another contested fact-finding and we
came here today and are supposed to be hearing that new
evidence of, um, what circumstances have changed since we
were here in September and DCS failed to prove their case the
first time. Um, I [don't] think we've heard any new
information. . . .
Tr. Vol. II p. 71-72.
On January 3, 2018, the trial court issued an order finding
the children to be CHINS. The CHINS finding is primarily
based on the cluttered and unclean state of the home and the
condition of the home environment in general; the lack of a
consistent and structured educational program for the