In re I.G.C., ___ N.C. ___ (Dec. 6, 2019)

Held: 
Affirmed
  • Facts: The Children were adjudicated dependent juveniles due to drug use and domestic violence involving both parents. Case plans were ordered to address parenting, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, stable housing, employment, no further criminal charges, visitation, and attendance at team meetings with DSS. DSS filed a motion to terminate parental rights after concurrent permanent plans of adoption and guardianship were ordered. The parents’ rights terminated on the grounds of neglect and failure to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions that led to the children’s removal. Respondent parents’ appeal. Respondent father’s appeal was by a no merit brief and is affirmed after an appellate court review.
  • The standard of review of a TPR adjudication is whether the findings are supported by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence and  whether the findings support the conclusions of law.
  • G.S. 7B-1111(a)(2) is a ground to TPR when the parent has willfully left the child in a foster care or placement outside the home for more than 12 months without showing reasonable progress to correct the conditions that led to the children’s removal. The mother’s limited progress is well documented in the findings of fact as she never completed the substance abuse treatment or domestic violence program, missed multiple drug screens and tested positive on two, and had two DWI offenses after agreeing to the case plan. Although mother completed parenting courses and participated in some substance abuse and domestic violence treatment and had three negative drug screens, these services were of a lesser duration and intensity than recommended and were not approved by the court. The evidence supports the findings that mother did not maintain stable employment for at least six months, had not resided in the same residence for at least six months, and had frequent moves constituting housing instability. Although she was making some progress on her case plan, mother waited too long before working on her case plan to make reasonable progress to correct the conditions leading to the children’s removal by the time of the TPR hearing.  
Category:
Termination of Parental Rights
Stage:
Adjudication
Topic:
Willfully Leaving Child in Foster Care or Other Placement
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