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Teresa F. v. Department of Child Safety

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

October 8, 2015

TERESA F., Appellant,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, T.F., D.F., Appellees.

Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. JD505677 The Honorable Rodrick J. Coffey, Judge Pro Tempore.

John L. Popilek, P.C., Scottsdale By John L. Popilek Counsel for Appellant.

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Mesa By Amanda L. Adams Counsel for Appellee.

Presiding Judge Kenton D. Jones delivered the decision of the Court, in which Judge Samuel A. Thumma and Judge Peter B. Swann joined.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

JONES, JUDGE.

¶1 Teresa F. (Mother) appeals the juvenile court's order granting guardianship of T.F. and D.F. (collectively, the Children) to their maternal aunt and uncle. On appeal, Mother challenges the juvenile court's findings that the Department of Child Safety (DCS) proved adequate grounds for guardianship by clear and convincing evidence. Mother also argues the court erred in considering information contained within a psychological evaluation report but not admitted into evidence. For the following reasons, we affirm.

FACTS[1] AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2 In 2001, T.F., born in 1999, and D.F., born in 2000, were removed from Mother's custody and placed with their biological father after DCS received reports of abuse against the Children's older siblings. In 2005, DCS received reports of the father neglecting and physically abusing the Children, and they returned to live with Mother.

¶3 In 2012, DCS received reports Mother was being evicted from her home and was unable to support the Children. Following her eviction Mother placed the Children with her nephew and lived out of her car. Later that year, she contacted police claiming the nephew had kidnapped the Children and wanted the children temporarily placed in foster care.

¶4 An investigating case manager for DCS met with Mother and reported signs of mental instability. DCS took temporary custody of the Children, and in July 2012, the juvenile court adjudicated the Children dependent as to Mother and adopted a case plan of family reunification.

¶5 DCS provided reunification services to Mother including transportation, parenting skills instruction, and supervised visitation. The plan required Mother to participate in random urinalysis testing, obtain mental health treatment, be subject to medical monitoring, develop parenting skills, and secure stable housing and income.

¶6 While Mother's urinalysis test results were negative, DCS's primary concern remained Mother's mental health. Mother had been treated for depression since 1995, and a traumatic head injury and consequential brain surgery in 2001 gave rise to additional mental health maladies. Medical records from a July 2012 evaluation indicate Mother suffers from bipolar disorder, dysthymic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a mood disorder. At the time of that evaluation, Mother was prescribed medication and instructed to return and report her symptoms and responses to the medication. Mother had not returned to the prescribing doctor as directed, was not taking her medication, and was not mentally stable.

¶7 In September 2012, parent aid services were cancelled and no parental visits were scheduled based upon the Children's desire to not have visitation with Mother. However, the Children were given the means and opportunity to communicate with Mother and request visitation if they wished. In December, Mother's mental health was again evaluated and, based upon the recommendations of the examining doctor, DCS recommended Mother receive additional ...


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