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In re M.W.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 19, 2019

In the Matter of: M.W., a Child Alleged to be in Need of Services, S.R. (Mother), Appellant-Respondent,
v.
Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner

          Appeal from the Vanderburgh Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 82D04-1807-JC-1414 The Honorable Brett J. Niemeier, Judge, The Honorable Renee A. Ferguson, Magistrate Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Erin L. Berger Evansville, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General Robert J. Henke Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Vaidik, Chief Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] S.R. ("Mother") appeals the trial court's placement of M.W. ("Child") after it found that Child is a child in need of services (CHINS). Because Child has since been placed with Mother and the CHINS case closed, we dismiss this appeal as moot.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Child was born to Mother and Me.W. ("Father") (collectively, "Parents") in 2003. At some point Parents split up and Father was granted custody of Child. In July 2018, Father and fifteen-year-old Child lived in Evansville with a woman named A.W., who had been named a legal custodian of Child, and Mother lived in Chicago. On July 23, the Department of Child Services (DCS) removed Child and filed a CHINS petition alleging that Father was abusing substances and told DCS workers that he no longer wants Child in his house. At the initial hearing, Father denied the allegations. Mother appeared by phone and asked if she could come get Child. Judge Pro Tem Jillian Reed said that to do that Mother would need to file a petition to modify custody or would need to undergo an investigation under the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), which provides a way to send children to new homes across state lines and allows the receiving state to investigate whether a child can be placed in a proposed home. See Bester v. Lake Cty. Office of Family and Children, 839 N.E.2d 143, 145 n.2 (Ind. 2005). After Judge Reed explained Mother's options, the following colloquy occurred:

THE COURT: Do you have any objection to [Child] being found to be a child in need of services?
[MOTHER]: Yeah, [Child] still needs (indiscernible). And
I think that [Child] shouldn't be abused in any kinda way or form. [Child is] a little kid.
THE COURT: So you don't -
[MOTHER]: Yeah, [Child] will need services.
THE COURT: So you don't have any objection to [Child] receiving services and being ...

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