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Constance C. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department D

October 29, 2013

CONSTANCE C., Appellant,

Not for Publication -Rule 103(G) Ariz.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

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. JD23197 The Honorable Joan M. Sinclair, Judge

Christina Phillips, Maricopa County Public Advocate Mesa By Suzanne W. Sanchez, Deputy Public Advocate Attorneys for Appellant

Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General Phoenix By Michael F. Valenzuela, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee Arizona Department of Economic Security



¶1 Constance C. ("Mother") appeals the juvenile court's order finding that the Arizona Department of Economic Security ("ADES") met its burden of proving the allegations of its dependency petition relating to Mother's three children. Mother argues that the court's order is deficient because it does not include findings of fact. For the following reasons, we affirm.


¶2 Mother has three children, B.C., D.C., and A.C. ("the children") who were born in 1996, 2002, and 2011, respectively.[1] In September 2012, Child Protective Services ("CPS") received a report that Mother had been selling prescription medications in her children's presence. The report also alleged that Mother had made B.C. deliver medications to strangers. As part of CPS's investigation, Mother tested positive for methamphetamine ("meth"). CPS then placed the children with their maternal grandparents for thirty days.

¶3 At the request of CPS, Mother participated in substance abuse treatment through TERROS. There, she struggled to acknowledge her substance-abuse problem, indicating that she was not addicted to meth and only used socially.

¶4 In January 2013, CPS received a second report on Mother. The report alleged that she had taken eight sleeping pills in D.C.'s presence, causing the child to sleep with Mother to ensure Mother did not stop breathing. CPS met with D.C. and verified the report. On February 4, 2013 CPS held a team decision-making meeting with Mother. During the meeting, Mother blamed one of the children for CPS's involvement and admitted to using meth in December 2012. CPS took the children into temporary physical custody and again placed them with their maternal grandparents. ADES filed a petition alleging the children were dependent because Mother (1) neglected the children due to substance abuse, (2) failed to provide a safe and stable home environment, and (3) neglected the children due to criminal activity.

¶5 At the dependency hearing, evidence was presented regarding Mother's substance abuse. Mother, who was age thirty-three at the time of the hearing, has had a history of substance abuse involving meth, starting at age fifteen. Mother also admitted to selling prescription drugs on at least one occasion. At any given time since the age of fifteen, Mother's longest period of sobriety was approximately two years. Despite Mother's history of substance use, she consistently maintained that she does not have a meth addiction.

¶6 At the conclusion of the hearing, after noting it had reviewed all the exhibits and carefully listened to the testimony, the court found "that the allegations of the petition are true by a preponderance of the evidence[;] these children are dependent as to their Mother based on neglect due to substance abuse." The court explained that although it was not persuaded regarding the allegation of criminal activity, Mother had "failed to maintain a normal parent-child relationship" with B.C. The court's primary concern, however, was substance abuse. Shortly after giving its ruling, the court addressed the need for an array of services, noting its ongoing concerns about Mother's substance abuse problem:

Okay. So, you need to do the services. I want you to participate in all of them. [You've] got to show me you're clean, going to stay clean; you're committed to your sobriety. I understand your position is that you're not really addicted, but I can tell you that I have a much broader viewpoint of what addicted means. And frankly, if you've used a substance, even recreationally, for half of your life and it's caused us to be here today with all of this going on, I'd say that's a ...

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