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Naomi H. v. Arizona Department of Economic Security

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

December 5, 2013

NAOMI H., Appellant,

Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JS12301 The Honorable Linda H. Miles, Judge

Jennifer Perkowski, Mesa Counsel for Appellant

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Mesa By Eric Devany Counsel for Arizona Department of Economic Security

Judge John C. Gemmill delivered the decision of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Maurice Portley and Judge Kent E. Cattani joined.



¶1 Naomi H. ("Mother") appeals the juvenile court's order terminating her parental relationship with her two minor children, C.H. and K.B. For the following reasons, we affirm.


¶2 C.H. was born in June 2007. In June 2009, after Mother had been arrested and charged with armed burglary, the Arizona Department of Economic Security ("ADES"), through Child Protective Services ("CPS"), took C.H. into temporary custody and placed her in a foster home. When C.H. was removed from Mother's residence, CPS observed drugs, drug paraphernalia, and unsafe items accessible to C.H. in the home. C.H. was dirty and appeared to have been neglected. Mother had a lengthy history of drug abuse and she admitted to using controlled substances, including methamphetamine and heroin, from ages 13 through 19, other than when she was pregnant. She participated in various substance abuse and behavioral health services while incarcerated in jail and upon her release from custody in October 2009. She was again incarcerated in December 2009. Upon her release in summer 2010 she transitioned to a halfway house, but she was discharged after a few days. She relapsed and continued to use drugs periodically, but in May 2011 she began making progress through a program provided by the Maricopa County Drug Court, consistently submitting to drug testing and attending support groups. She also moved into a substance abuse facility, Changing Lives Center, in February 2012. As of fall 2012, she had not tested positive for banned substances for more than a year and had reasonable explanations for all but one of the times she missed her random urinalysis testing.

¶3 Mother participated in a variety of services offered by ADES while C.H. was in the State's care, including completing three substance-abuse programs and three parent aide programs; participating in a psychological evaluation, bonding assessment, and best-interests evaluation; and attending therapy and individual counseling sessions.

¶4 K.B. was born in February 2012 and lived with Mother at Changing Lives Center. In June 2012, C.H. began spending weeknights with Mother and K.B. ADES intended to begin reunification efforts for C.H. at that time. C.H. often had traumatic, hours-long tantrums while in Mother's care, however, twice requiring the assistance of a crisis team. Overnight visits were discontinued in mid-September.

¶5 Mother was asked to leave Changing Lives Center in late September 2012 because of rules violations for smoking cigarettes, allowing another resident's children to sleep over in her apartment, letting C.H. sleep in another resident's apartment, and using a computer in an inappropriate manner. K.B. was taken into ADES custody that month. C.H. and K.B. were placed in Phoenix Child Crisis Nursery, where C.H. had already been staying on weekends when not in Mother's care.

¶6 Changing Lives told Mother there would be a seven-week waiting period to get into a different residence facility. Mother was also told that she could return to Changing Lives after 90 days if she remained sober. Instead of taking either option, Mother moved to Michigan in October 2012, leaving the children behind. She did not financially support the children or maintain physical contact with them. She called three or four times per week, however, and had brief conversations with the children. Additionally, she sent cards and money for Christmas photos and presents.

¶7 ADES continued with a reunification plan that called for Mother to remain sober, create a positive support network, and to take advantage of available services. ADES advised Mother, however, that living in Michigan while her kids were in ...

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