FROM THE LONOKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 43JV-14-36]
HONORABLE BARBARA ELMORE, JUDGE
Law Firm, P.A., by: John Ogles, for appellant.
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor child.
D. VAUGHT, Judge.
Jones appeals the April 7, 2016 order of the Lonoke County
Circuit Court terminating her parental rights to her son,
B.M. (born September 12, 2011). On appeal, Jones argues that
the circuit court's termination order is clearly
erroneous. We affirm.
February 7, 2014, the Arkansas Department of Human Services
(DHS) filed a petition for ex parte emergency custody and
dependency-neglect, alleging that Jones's older son,
A.J., who was seventeen years old at the time, was
dependent-neglected as a result of "neglect, parental
unfitness and no legal caretaker." The affidavit
attached to the petition alleged that on February 5, 2014,
the circuit court ordered DHS to take A.J. into custody
because Jones had failed to appear for her court appearance
that day, leaving A.J. without an appropriate caretaker or
guardian. An emergency order was entered on February 7, 2014.
February 20, 2014, DHS filed another petition for ex parte
emergency custody, alleging Jones's "neglect,
parental unfitness, environmental neglect, and drug use"
with respect to B.M., who was then two and half years old.
The affidavit attached to this petition alleged that after
the circuit court removed A.J. from Jones's custody, it
ordered DHS to conduct a safety assessment on B.M. On
February 18, 2014, a DHS caseworker visited Jones's
residence, but Jones and B.M. were not home. Several men were
there loading a U-Haul. The caseworker entered the home and
observed drug needles and pipes on the floor and the couch.
The caseworker called Jones and requested that she return
home with B.M., but Jones refused and hung up. When the
caseworker gained custody of B.M. the following day, she
observed that he was in "filthy" pajamas and had a
"bad odor." Jones tested positive for
methamphetamine. An emergency order was entered on February
March 18, 2014 adjudication hearing, Jones stipulated that
B.M. and A.J. were dependent-neglected "based on
inadequate supervision due to [her] drug use." Jones was
ordered to participate in and complete parenting classes,
individual and family counseling, random drug screens,
residential drug treatment, a drug-and-alcohol assessment,
and a forensic-psychological evaluation; obtain and maintain
stable employment and housing; comply with the case plan;
cooperate and maintain contact with DHS; attend visitations;
demonstrate improved parenting; and remain drug free.
hearings were held on April 29 and August 26, 2014. The
review orders from those hearings provided that return of the
children to the custody of Jones was contrary to their
welfare, that Jones was to comply with the case plan, that
the goal of the case was reunification, and that DHS had made
reasonable efforts to provide services to achieve the goal.
One of the review orders provided that Jones "is . . .
doing inpatient substance[-]abuse treatment and is doing
well. . . . Mom is compliant at this time." The review
order provided that due to Jones's progress, she was
given temporary custody of B.M. while she resided at the
substance-abuse facility. At that time, Jones was also
permitted a two-hour weekly visit with A.J. The order further
provided that A.J. was allowed weekend visits with his aunt,
January 2, 2015, DHS filed a motion for ex parte emergency
change of custody, alleging that Jones had violated the terms
of her inpatient substance-abuse-treatment program and put
B.M. in imminent danger. The affidavit attached to the motion
stated that on December 29, 2014, Jones, Mesoner, and B.M.
joined Humble and A.J. over the holiday. Humble reported to
DHS that A.J. admitted having consumed alcohol at
Humble's home and that Jones and Mesoner had purchased it
for him. An emergency order returning B.M. to DHS custody was
entered on January 2, 2015.
continued to work on the case plan. On March 10, 2015, a
permanency-planning order was entered by the circuit court
that provided that it was in the best interest of B.M. to
return him to Jones because she was complying with the case
plan and working diligently toward reunification and that
termination of parental rights was not in his best interest.
The court also ordered Jones to complete counseling and
allowed visits with B.M. twice a week.
fifteen-month review order was filed on June 30, 2015. The
circuit court continued the goal of reunification with Jones
"because the mom has been complying with the case plan
and orders of this court and has made significant measurable
progress toward achieving the goals established in the case
plan, and the mom has been diligently working towards
reunification." On August 11, 2015, an agreed order was
entered stating that Jones's hair-follicle test was
negative and that it was in the best interest of B.M. and
A.J. to have unsupervised visits with Jones for a minimum of
two hours per week.
September 16, 2015, a review order stated that Jones had been
compliant and the goal remained reunification. This order
awarded Jones a sixty-day trial placement with A.J. with
several conditions, including but not limited to the
following: A.J. must wear an ankle monitor at all
times; A.J. must attend school; and if