FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 26JV-16-380]
HONORABLE THOMAS LYNN WILLIAMS, JUDGE
Lightle, Raney, Streit & Streit, LLP, by: Jonathan R.
Streit, for appellants.
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
Corley and Joey Bilbrey appeal the November 29, 2017 order of
the Garland County Circuit Court terminating their parental
rights to their four children, twins AB and EB (d.o.b.
1/15/15), MB (d.o.b. 8/13/13), and GB (d.o.b. 10/29/10). They
argue the lower court erred in finding that grounds existed
for termination and that termination was in the best interest
of the children. We affirm.
case began on September 7, 2016, when the Arkansas Department
of Human Services (DHS) received a report of environmental
neglect through the child-abuse hotline. The affidavit
included with the petition for removal alleged that when DHS
made an unannounced visit to the home, the floors were
covered in trash, dirty clothes, and animal feces. There were
no diapers for the younger children, and both parents tested
positive for methamphetamine, MDMA, and opiates. The oldest
child, GB (then six), tested positive for methamphetamine.
DHS exercised a seventy-two-hour hold on the four children.
case progressed through emergency and probable-cause hearings
with corresponding findings and orders entered. On November
18, 2016, the children were adjudicated dependent-neglected
based on environmental neglect and parental unfitness because
of the parents' illegal substance abuse. The parents were
ordered to comply with the case plan, which required that
they refrain from drug use; submit to random drug screens;
complete parenting classes; attend individual- and
family-counseling sessions; maintain stable and appropriate
housing, income, and transportation; and complete
psychological and drug-and-alcohol assessments and all
review hearings were held, one on February 22, 2017, and the
other on May 10, 2017. At the permanency-planning hearing on
August 23, 2017, the trial court found that the parents had
not made significant and measurable progress toward
reunification and changed the goal from reunification to
termination of parental rights. On September 22, 2017, DHS
filed a petition to terminate parental rights, alleging the
grounds of twelve months failure to remedy, Ark. Code Ann.
§ 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(a) (Supp. 2017), and
subsequent factors, Ark. Code Ann. §
termination hearing took place on November 29, 2017. Family
service worker Jamie Moran testified that the parents did
have some compliance during the case but that Corley never
sought employment during the case and that both parents
tested positive for amphetamines and methamphetamine the week
before the termination hearing. Moran testified that Corley
never submitted to outpatient drug treatment. She testified
that Bilbrey never submitted to a drug-and-alcohol assessment
or completed any outpatient or inpatient drug treatment. She
testified that the parents never progressed to the point that
their visitation could be unsupervised.
Lewis, GB's therapist, testified. Because of GB's
behavioral issues, she recommended that visits stop in
November 2016. However, the parents were participating and
engaged in family therapy with GB. Lewis testified that as of
the date of the termination hearing, if GB were to return
home with his parents, he would be at risk of continued
neglect and emotional distress. The trial court also received
testimony from DHS's adoption specialist that the
children are adoptable but that there was no guarantee that
the siblings would be adopted together.
Francioni, Bilbrey's employer, testified. She indicated
that Bilbrey had been an employee of hers for two years. He
was dependable. He was working roughly thirty-six hours a
week making ten dollars an hour and that his employment was
Corley testified. She admitted that drugs had impacted her
housekeeping chores in the beginning of the case. She
testified that there were only two instances when she tested
positive for drugs: at removal and shortly before the
termination hearing. Corley testified that she had told her
caseworker that she wanted substance-abuse treatment but that
the Quapaw House had indicated it had not yet been ...