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Holdcraft v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

March 6, 2019

CARRIE HOLDCRAFT APPELLANT
v.
ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND MINOR CHILD APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, ELEVENTH DIVISION [NO. 60JV-16-1316] HONORABLE PATRICIA JAMES, JUDGE

          Tabitha McNulty, 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.

          DAVID M. GLOVER, JUDGE.

         Carrie Holdcraft appeals the Pulaski County Circuit Court's termination of her parental rights to her daughter, SH (DOB 5-23-12).[1] She argues it was not in SH's best interest for her parental rights to be terminated. We affirm the termination of Holdcraft's parental rights.

         The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) exercised a seventy-two-hour hold on SH on November 3, 2016, after receiving a child-maltreatment report that methamphetamine was within easy reach of SH in Holdcraft's home and alleging Holdcraft was not an adequate caregiver due to her use of drugs. While investigating the report, the DCFS worker observed that Holdcraft appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance, was fidgety, and was constantly moving. While Holdcraft denied using any illegal substances, she admitted others in the house had done so; the DCFS worker could smell alcohol on Holdcraft, who admitted she had been drinking throughout the day. Holdcraft tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamines, and marijuana; cocaine and drug paraphernalia were discovered in the house; and a marijuana plant was found growing in the laundry room. Holdcraft was arrested on drug charges, and SH was taken into DHS custody due to neglect and parental unfitness. On November 7, 2016, DHS filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect; an order granting emergency custody was filed on that same day.

         On November 14, a probable-cause hearing was held, and the circuit court entered an order finding that based on the stipulation of the parties, there was probable cause to continue custody of SH with DHS. The circuit court found DHS had made reasonable efforts to prevent removal. At the time of the probable-cause hearing, Holdcraft was incarcerated in the Pulaski County jail. On December 19, an adjudication hearing was held, and the circuit court entered an order finding SH was dependent-neglected. The parties stipulated to the finding of dependency-neglect based on parental unfitness, specifically Holdcraft's drug use, which affected her ability to parent SH. The goal of the case continued to be reunification, with a concurrent goal of adoption, and the circuit court found that DHS had made reasonable efforts to provide services and achieve the goal of the case.

         On April 24, 2017, a review hearing was held. The circuit court entered an order finding Holdcraft had made substantial progress since the last hearing by completing her psychological examination; attending outpatient therapy as recommended; participating in therapy; testing negative on all drug screens; visiting SH on a consistent basis; and being employed. The circuit court noted Holdcraft was considering divorcing SH's father, David Holdcraft. The goal of the case remained reunification with Holdcraft. DHS was found to have made reasonable efforts to provide services and achieve the goal of the case.

         On October 9, a permanency-planning hearing was held. The circuit court entered an order finding Holdcraft had made no measurable progress and was only paying "lip service" to the case plan. Specifically, evidence was presented that Holdcraft had a positive drug screen on September 27, 2017, for methamphetamine and amphetamines, and she had tested positive for alcohol on August 16. Holdcraft had also been arrested on May 31, 2017, in Saline County for driving while intoxicated; she had her sixteen-year-old son in the car with her at that time. She pleaded guilty to DWI and child endangerment and was placed on probation and fined. The circuit court found Holdcraft had not remained sober, and if she wanted to raise SH, she had to make SH a priority over alcohol and drugs. The goal of the case was changed to adoption and termination of parental rights. DHS was found to have made reasonable efforts to provide services.

         On December 5, 2017, DHS filed a petition for termination of parental rights; that petition was voluntarily withdrawn on February 12, 2018, and the hearing was instead converted to a review hearing. In the review-hearing order, the court found the goal of the case was tentative reunification with Holdcraft. It was also found that DHS had made reasonable efforts to provide services. While SH remained in DHS custody, the circuit court found Holdcraft's visitation could be expanded if it did not interfere with SH's therapies and school, and Holdcraft could participate in SH's counseling and therapy as recommended. The circuit court further found Albert Popp, Holdcraft's significant other, could attend visitation but was subject to drug-and-alcohol screens.

         On May 2, 2018, a permanency-planning order was filed in which the circuit court changed the case goal to adoption and authorized DHS to file a petition to terminate Holdcraft's parental rights. Holdcraft had tested positive for alcohol on February 28 and March 14, 2018; at the March 21 staffing, Holdcraft appeared to be suffering from withdrawals; she entered detox at Baptist Hospital and was discharged March 23; she entered inpatient treatment on March 26; and after she was released, Holdcraft was able to return to work. The circuit court found Holdcraft had continued to drink throughout the case; she lived with Mr. Popp, who also had a history of alcohol abuse but still worked at a liquor store; they abused alcohol together; Holdcraft had lied and cheated her way through the case and merely checked off boxes without any real change; and although Holdcraft had a bond with SH, her bond with alcohol and addiction was stronger.

         On May 21, 2018, DHS filed a second petition to terminate Holdcraft's parental rights alleging three bases applicable to her: (1) SH had been adjudicated dependent-neglected and had continued out of Holdcraft's custody for a period of twelve months, and despite a meaningful effort by DHS to correct the conditions causing removal, the conditions had not been remedied (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(a))(Supp. 2017); (2) other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect that demonstrate placement of SH in Holdcraft's custody is contrary to her health, safety, or welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate family services, Holdcraft had manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy the subsequent issues or factors or to rehabilitate the circumstances preventing placement of the juvenile in Holdcraft's custody (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a)); and (3) SH was subjected to aggravated circumstances (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(3)(A)).

         At the termination hearing, Dr. George DeRoeck, a psychologist, testified Holdcraft suffered from substance abuse of methamphetamine, cannabis, and alcohol, and she had an adjustment disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct. He believed Holdcraft needed more intensive residential treatment, with the possibility of chemical-free living with SH after treatment. ...


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