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Strickland v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

December 12, 2018

JULIE STRICKLAND APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILD APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DISTRICT [NO. 66FJV-16-96] HONORABLE ANNIE HENDRICKS, JUDGE

          Leah Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.

          Ellen K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

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

          BART F. VIRDEN, JUDGE

         The Sebastian County Circuit Court terminated appellant Julie Strickland's parental rights to her daughter, C.H. (DOB: 9-10-2002).[1] She argues that the trial court erred in finding that termination of her parental rights was in C.H.'s best interest because, due to C.H.'s advanced age, adoption is "not a logical means to a permanent or healthy end for C.H." We find no error and affirm.

         I. Procedural History

         On February 24, 2016, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect with respect to then thirteen-year-old C.H. In an affidavit attached to the petition, a DHS employee alleged that on February 21, 2016, DHS had been contacted by the Fort Smith Police Department after finding C.H. in a parked car with a man in his forties around 2:10 a.m. Strickland was called to the scene. She described the man as a family friend and said that she had sent C.H. to stay with the man because Strickland's husband, Jason, had beaten her while he was intoxicated a couple of days ago. Strickland was aware that the man charged with caring for C.H. had no residence. Strickland was subsequently arrested on an outstanding warrant. She stated that C.H.'s father was not involved in C.H.'s life. Because C.H. had no caregiver, a seventy-two-hour hold was taken on her.

         The trial court entered an ex parte order for emergency custody and later found probable cause that the emergency conditions that necessitated C.H.'s removal from Strickland's custody continued to exist. The trial court adjudicated C.H. dependent-neglected due to neglect by Strickland caused by her inadequate supervision and her arrest and established the goal of reunification.

         In a review order entered September 23, 2016, the trial court continued the goal of reunification and found that DHS had made reasonable efforts to provide services to the family and that Strickland had not completed any services. The trial court also noted that C.H. had been hospitalized after suffering a seizure but that Strickland had not visited her.

         In a permanency-planning order entered March 28, 2017, the trial court set the goal as reunification with a concurrent goal of adoption and termination of parental rights. The trial court found that DHS had made reasonable efforts to provide services to the family but that Strickland had failed to participate in counseling and domestic-violence classes and had not submitted to a psychological evaluation and hair-follicle drug testing. The trial court also noted that Strickland had no home and no transportation and that "she is again separating from her husband." The trial court found that Strickland had completed parenting classes and had visited C.H.

         In a fifteen-month review order entered June 5, 2017, the trial court found that Strickland had no home, no employment or income, and no transportation; she had failed to participate in counseling and domestic-violence classes; she had not submitted to hair-follicle drug testing; and she had sporadically visited the juvenile. She had, however, completed CJS (comprehensive juvenile services) parenting classes and had submitted to a psychological evaluation. The trial court relieved DHS of providing further services to Strickland unless she appeared at the DHS office and requested services. The trial court set concurrent goals of APPLA (Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement) and permanent custody with a relative. On June 23, 2017, DHS filed a motion to modify visits on the basis that Strickland had been inappropriate by asking C.H. for money and to provide her with items to sell.

         On November 17, 2017, DHS filed a petition for termination of parental rights, alleging grounds under Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B) (Supp. 2017): (i)(a) (twelve month failure to remedy); (ii)(a) (willful failure to provide significant material support or to maintain meaningful contact with the juvenile); (vii)(a) (other subsequent factors); and (ix)(a)(3) (aggravated circumstances: little likelihood that services will result in successful reunification).

         Another review order was entered November 21, 2017, in which the trial court found that Strickland had an apartment but was not employed and had no income; she did not have a driver's license; she had not appeared for two hair-follicle drug tests; she had failed to participate in counseling; she had failed to participate ...


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