In re S.G., 268 N.C. App. 360 (2019)

  • Facts: DSS responded to a report of a 3 year old with a black eye. The 3-year-old child has two older siblings. All three children have the same mother, and the older children have the same respondent father. Initially, the parents evaded the DSS social worker and ultimately explained the youngest child’s bruise as him falling when running and hitting his head on the table. DSS sought mother’s agreement to keep the children from respondent father while an assessment was being completed, but respondent mother would not agree. DSS filed a petition and obtained adjudications that the 3-year-old child was abused, neglected, and dependent and the two older siblings were neglected and dependent. At the disposition and permanency planning hearing, the court ordered respondents to complete and follow recommendations of substance abuse and mental health assessments, participate in parenting classes, obtain and maintain safe and stable housing, and submit to random drug screens. The order set forth a visitation plan of one visit per month and further designated that contact between the 3 year old and respondent father (who is not the father of the 3 year old)  was to be based on the child’s therapist’s recommendation.
  • Neglect Adjudication: The definition of neglected juvenile under G.S. 7B-101(15) includes a child who lives with a person who neglected or abused another child. The trial court has discretion to determine how much weight to give that evidence. Neglect also requires that there be some physical, mental, or emotional impairment or substantial risk of such impairment from the lack of proper care, supervision, or discipline. The court made findings of fact that (1) the mother would not agree to keep the children from their father and preferred to be with the father and have the children stay elsewhere, did not believe the child’s reports of what happened, did not believe she could protect the children from the father, and had no other placement options, and (2) both respondents denied responsibility for the youngest child’s injuries. The neglect adjudications of the two older children were supported by these findings and were not based solely by the finding that the older children lived in the same home as their 3-year-old sibling who was abused and neglected by respondent father.
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
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