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Yvonne E. v. Department of Child Safety

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division

October 13, 2015

Yvonne E., Appellant,
Department of Child Safety, L.E., P.E., A.E., M.E., R.E., M.E., A.E., A.E., and S.E., Appellees.

Not for Publication – Rule 111(c), Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Pinal County No. S1100JD201000141 The Honorable Henry G. Gooday Jr., Judge

Rosemary Gordon Pánuco, Tucson Counsel for Appellant

Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General By Cathleen E. Fuller, Assistant Attorney General, Tucson Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety

Presiding Judge Miller authored the decision of the Court, in which Chief Judge Eckerstrom and Judge Espinosa concurred.



¶1 Appellant Yvonne E. challenges the juvenile court's order of June 10, 2015, terminating her parental rights to her nine children on grounds they had been in court-ordered, out-of-home placement for more than six or nine months and Yvonne "is unable to discharge parental responsibilities because of . . . a history of chronic abuse of dangerous drugs, controlled substances or alcohol and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the condition will continue for a prolonged indeterminate period." A.R.S. § 8-533(B)(3), (8)(a)-(b). On appeal, Yvonne argues the Department of Child Safety (DCS) [1] did not make reasonable efforts toward reunification. We affirm.

¶2 Before it may terminate a parent's rights, a juvenile court must find by clear and convincing evidence that at least one statutory ground for severance exists and must find by a preponderance of the evidence that terminating the parent's rights is in the best interests of the child. See A.R.S. §§ 8-533(B), 8-537(B); Kent K. v. Bobby M., 210 Ariz. 279, ¶ 41, 110 P.3d 1013, 1022 (2005). We will affirm an order terminating parental rights unless we must say as a matter of law that no reasonable person could find those essential elements proven by the applicable evidentiary standard. See Denise R. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec, 221 Ariz. 92, ¶ 10, 210 P.3d 1263, 1266 (App. 2009). We view the evidence in the light most favorable to upholding the court's order. Manuel M. v. Ariz. Dep't of Econ. Sec, 218 Ariz. 205, ¶ 2, 181 P.3d 1126, 1128 (App. 2008).


¶3 DCS took custody of Yvonne's older children in August 2010 after two of them were born exposed to methamphetamine in 2009 and 2010. Yvonne and Leonardo, father to the children, had a history of reports to DCS going back to 2008, some of which were unsubstantiated, but services were discussed with and recommended to them as a result of the reports. These reports included use of methamphetamines by both parents and failure to supervise the small children.

¶4 The children were adjudicated dependent in September 2010, and a case plan of family reunification was adopted. The juvenile court further determined DCS had made reasonable efforts toward reunification. DCS provided Yvonne with various services, including substance abuse classes, urinalysis, parenting classes, and visitation. Yvonne complied with required services and tested negative for drugs, and physical custody of the children was ordered returned to Yvonne and Leonardo in July 2011. The dependency was dismissed that same month.

¶5 In August 2012, however, DCS received a report of abuse of the children, including screaming, yelling, and swearing at them and hitting them. Then in February 2014, Yvonne reported seeing "a man with a gun and a knife outside her home" and police officers investigated. When they arrived, the officers found Yvonne "acting very paranoid" and having not slept in three days; she admitted she had been using methamphetamine. DCS again took custody of the children and filed a new dependency petition, alleging abuse and neglect. The children were adjudicated dependent in February 2014.

¶6 In the case plan filed in February, DCS offered, and Yvonne agreed to, various services including urinalysis, substance abuse assessment, individual and family counsel, parenting classes, parenting aide, transportation, and visitation. [2] In reports filed in August 2014, the DCS caseworker assigned to the family stated that Yvonne was receiving counseling and substance abuse services, as well as "random drug testing, " but she had not been compliant with the testing or attending counseling services. She failed to appear for a psychological evaluation, and she tested positive for alcohol and methamphetamine in May and June respectively. The caseworker stated Yvonne had been "non-compliant with services" from February until April, at which time she began to comply with urinalysis and "stated she was willing to comply with services." But the reports indicated Yvonne did not follow through with "opportunities to obtain employment" and was "not bonded with her children."

¶7 In her August report, the caseworker recommended that the case plan be changed to severance and adoption. At a permanency planning and review hearing that month Yvonne objected to the proposed change in case plan and the state requested "a continuance in order to staff th[e] matter." The juvenile court ...

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