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Vail v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

March 9, 2016


         Counsel Amended March 11, 2016.


         Bristow & Richardson, P.L.L.C., by: Benjamin W. Bristow, for appellee Raymond Vail.

         Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant Samanthia See.

         Jerald A. Sharum, County Legal Operations, for appellee.

         Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for minor child.

         Mischa Kay Martin

         Kevin Neil King

         ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Chief Judge. VIRDEN and GRUBER, JJ., agree.


Page 230

          ROBERT J. GLADWIN, Chief Judge

         In this termination-of-parental-rights case, both parents, in separate briefs, appeal the Randolph County Circuit Court's order of August 11, 2015, terminating their parental rights and granting to appellee Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) the power to consent to adoption. Appellants Raymond Vail and Samanthia See both argue that termination of their parental rights was not in the child's best interest. Raymond also contends that the trial court erred in determining that DHS proved a statutory ground for terminating his parental rights. We affirm.

         I. Statement of Facts and Procedural History

         A petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect was filed by DHS on April 7, 2014, alleging that Samanthia and Raymond were the parents of S.S., born April 7, 2013; Samanthia had custody; and Raymond was the legal/putative father. The attached affidavit of the DHS caseworker stated that a protective-services case had been opened on June 26, 2013, when Samanthia left S.S. alone for three hours and failed a drug screen for THC by diluting the specimen with hot water. The case was closed on November 7, 2013, after services, including parenting classes, had been provided. An emergency occurred on April 3, 2014, when Samanthia admitted to not feeding S.S. until after 2:00 p.m., S.S. had a severe diaper rash that had gone untreated, and Samanthia had her roommate, Daniel Honeycutt, caring for S.S. Honeycutt had threatened suicide days prior, and Samanthia had refused to take a drug screen for DHS. A seventy-two-hour hold was taken on S.S. due to the maltreatment and risk of serious harm.

         A probable-cause order was filed on April 8, 2014, finding probable cause that the emergency conditions that necessitated removal of custody from Samanthia continued and that S.S. should remain in DHS custody. DHS was to develop an appropriate case plan and provide services. The parents were ordered to view " The Clock is Ticking" video; attend and complete parenting classes; submit to random drug screens, a drug-and-alcohol assessment, and a psychological evaluation; obtain and maintain sufficient income to support the family and safe, clean, and stable housing; permit DHS access to their home; regularly

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attend visits; notify DHS if transportation was needed; and keep DHS informed of correct telephone numbers and addresses. The order also stated that Raymond should establish paternity.

         An adjudication order was filed on May 20, 2014, and the circuit court found that DHS had been involved with the family since May 28, 2013, and services, including parenting classes, home visits, and random drug screens had been provided. These services did not prevent removal because an emergency developed on April 3, 2014, as outlined above. The circuit court found by a preponderance of the evidence that S.S. was dependent-neglected due to Samanthia's environmental and medical neglect. DHS remained the custodian, and the goal of the case was reunification with a parent. The concurrent plan was adoption/guardianship/permanent custody. All prior orders remained in place.

         A review order was filed on September 30, 2014, and custody remained with DHS. Raymond was adjudicated to be the father of S.S., and the goal of reunification remained. The circuit court found that Samanthia had been compliant in completing parenting classes, viewing the video, and completing the psychological and drug-and-alcohol assessments and outpatient substance-abuse counseling. She had attended counseling at Mid South, submitted to random drug screens, attended weekly supervised visitations, and maintained a home. However, Samanthia was not compliant in that she tested positive for THC when she performed the drug-and-alcohol assessment; she missed a visit on August 21, 2014; and she did not have sufficient income. The circuit court noted that DHS reported that Samanthia was inconsistent during visits in her concern for S.S., her interaction with S.S., and her affection for S.S.

         The circuit court found that Raymond was compliant in completing parenting classes, viewing the video, submitting to drug-and-alcohol and psychological assessments, attending visitation, maintaining income and a home, and submitting to random drug screens. However, Raymond tested positive for THC and opiates on August 12, 2014, and on September 11, 2014, and he had not returned his home-study packet. He was often late for ...

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