In re J.H., 373 N.C. 264 (2020)

  • Facts: Four children were adjudicated abused and neglected. The court ordered respondent mother to engage in a case plan – complete a mental health assessment and follow all recommendations, maintain employment  and appropriate and safe housing for a minimum of 6 months, participate in parent coaching and implement the skills during visits, and sign necessary release forms for the court and DSS to monitor her progress. At a permanency planning hearing, the court ordered concurrent plans of adoption and reunification with the children’s fathers. Respondent mother preserved the right to appeal this permanency planning order (PPO). Mother’s rights were subsequently terminated, and she appealed both the PPO and TPR. The TPR appeal is limited to the dispositional determination that TPR was in the children’s best interests.
  • Standard of review: Appellate review of an order that eliminates reunification as a permanent plan “is limited to whether there is competent evidence in the record to support the findings [of fact] and whether the findings support the conclusion of law” and “to determine . . . . whether the trial court abused its discretion with respect to disposition.” Sl.Op. at 5. At disposition, the trial court considers the child’s best interests.
  • Reunification must be a primary or secondary plan unless findings are made under G.S. 7B-906.2(b) and (d). The court made findings the mother made some progress on her case plan but was not in compliance with other requirements of her case plan and was unable to safely parent her children. The evidence, including reports from the parenting coach, supported the court’s finding that respondent mother only made “some progress.” Based on the extensive findings and underlying evidence, there was no abuse of discretion eliminated reunification with the mother because that was in the children’s best interests.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Cease Reunification
Findings of Fact
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