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Claudia C. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security, A.B.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department E

June 20, 2013

CLAUDIA C., Appellant,

Not for Publication – 103(G) Ariz.R.P. Juv. Ct.; Rule 28 ARCAP

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. JD19058 The Honorable Roland J. Steinle, Judge

Thomas A. Vierling Attorney for Appellant.

Thomas C. Horne, Attorney General Michael Valenzuela, Assistant Attorney General Attorney for Arizona Department of Economic Security



¶1 Claudia C. ("Mother") appeals the juvenile court's order terminating her parental relationship with her daughter, A.B. ("the child"). For the following reasons, we affirm.


¶2 Mother is the biological parent of the child, who was born in 2004.[2] The child was born with Spina Bifida, and has also been diagnosed with neurogenic bladder and vesicoureteral reflux. These conditions make the child incontinent and prone to bladder and kidney infections. The child's treatment plan includes frequent and regular catheterizations, the daily use of a bowel tube, and daily medications. Without consistent treatment, the child is in danger of renal failure, a life-threatening condition.

¶3 The Arizona Department of Economic Security ("ADES") took the child into temporary custody on April 13, 2010, after the staff at St. Joseph's Hospital notified Child Protective Services ("CPS") that the child's doctor was going to cease treatment because of Mother's failure to follow through on the child's treatment plan. At the time the report was made, Mother was living in a domestic violence shelter with the child and her two other children after leaving an allegedly abusive relationship with the child's father.

¶4 On April 19, 2010, ADES filed a dependency petition alleging the child is medically fragile and that Mother had been neglecting the child's medical needs. The court adjudicated the child dependent on June 24, 2010, and approved a case plan of family reunification. The child was placed in a foster home licensed to care for medically fragile children, where she has remained throughout the dependency. Consistent with the case plan, ADES provided Mother with several services, including domestic violence counseling, a psychological evaluation, individual counseling, supervised visits, and parent-aide services.

¶5 Mother consistently performed well during supervised visits and implemented the skills she learned during her parent-aide sessions. Mother also attended her counseling sessions regularly and eventually completed a psychological evaluation in May 2011. The psychologist who evaluated Mother at that time reported that Mother appeared "to have resolved many issues leading to her child's medical neglect" and recommended that the case continue to move toward reunification. The psychologist qualified her recommendation, however, by stating that the child's "medical needs should be paramount in determining any timeliness and physical custody changes."

¶6 In August 2011, ADES allowed Mother to have unsupervised physical custody of the child during the weekdays to determine whether Mother could adequately meet the child's medical needs on her own. However, in October 2011, ADES again removed the child from Mother's care based on concerns that Mother had not been adequately caring for the child's medical needs.

¶7 In February 2012, the juvenile court approved an ADES motion to change the child's case plan to severance and adoption. ADES then filed a motion to terminate Mother's parental rights to the child on grounds of neglect under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 8-533(B)(2) (Supp. 2012)[3]and fifteen months out-of-home placement under A.R.S. § 8-533(B)(8)(c).

¶8 In September and October of 2012, the juvenile court held a four-day contested severance hearing. At the hearing, the child's school nurse testified that while the child was in Mother's care in August 2011, the child would report that Mother was not regularly catheterizing her or administering her medications. The nurse also reported that Mother was defensive when contacted about these issues and that Mother failed to respond when the nurse would notify Mother that she was running low on the child's medical supplies. The nurse further testified that the child would often come to school dirty, wearing dirty clothes, and with urine and/or ...

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