In the Matter of R.L. (Minor Child)
Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner, and J. R. (Mother), Appellant-Respondent, and Child Advocates, Inc., Guardian Ad Litem.
from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Marilyn Moores,
Judge The Honorable Gael Deppert, Magistrate Trial Court
Cause No. 49D09-1803-JC-638
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Andrew Bernlohr Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Abigail R. Recker Deputy Attorney General
OF THE CASE
Appellant-Respondent, J.R. (Mother), appeals the juvenile
court's denial of her motion to dismiss the petition of
Appellees'-Petitioners', Department of Child Services
(DCS) and Child Advocates, Inc., (collectively, DCS),
alleging that her minor child, R.N.L. (Child), is a child in
need of services (CHINS).
We reverse and remand for further proceedings.
Mother presents one issue on appeal: Whether the juvenile
court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the instant
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Mother and R.L. (Father) are the parents of a daughter, J.L.,
born early in 2017. Shortly after J.L.'s birth, Mother
became pregnant with Child. Father is also father to Child.
On a date which is unclear from the record, J.L. was removed
from the care of Mother and Father in 2017 when DCS initiated
a CHINS proceeding based on allegations of neglect (the J.L.
CHINS). Child was born on November 2, 2017.
On November 7, 2017, DCS filed a petition alleging that Child
was a CHINS (the 2017 CHINS) based on allegations that, among
other things, Mother and Father had failed to provide a safe
home, had not completed services referred in the
still-ongoing J.L. CHINS proceeding to rectify conditions for
removal, Mother was unable and unwilling to care for Child,
Mother struggled with anger issues, service providers had not
recommended unsupervised parenting time, and Father had not
demonstrated the ability to safeguard Child while Child was
in Mother's care. Child was removed from Mother and
Father's care and placed with the same foster family
caring for J.L. On January 26, 2018, the juvenile court held
a fact-finding hearing on the 2017 CHINS. On March 2, 2018,
the juvenile court denied the 2017 CHINS, finding that DCS
had made no referrals for Mother in the 2017 CHINS, DCS had
failed to establish the foundation for evidence of any prior
referrals in other CHINS proceedings involving Mother, and
that Mother had a stable home, knew about community resources
available to her, and had strengthened her parenting skills.
The juvenile court dismissed the 2017 CHINS.
The juvenile court's order denying and dismissing the
2017 CHINS was entered and served on the parties at 8:33 a.m.
on March 2, 2018. It is unclear from the record before us
whether that order was the subject of an administrative
hearing with the parties present. Without informing Mother
that the 2017 CHINS had been denied and dismissed, sometime
prior to 2:00 p.m. on March 2, 2018, the family case manager
for Child, Britney Whittaker (FCM Whittaker), contacted
Mother by telephone and asked to inspect Mother's
residence. FCM Whittaker also acted as case manager for the
J.L. CHINS. Mother denied FCM Whittaker's request to
inspect the residence and admitted that the home was not safe
for a baby due to having condition issues.
On March 2, 2018, at 2:00 p.m., FCM Whittaker
"detained" Child, even though Child had never left
the physical custody of his foster family after the juvenile
court denied the 2017 CHINS. (Appellant's App. Vol. II,
p. 50). After being detained on March 2, 2018, Child remained
in the custody of his foster family. On March 6, 2018, FCM
Whittaker filed a report of ...