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Boomhower v. Arkansas Department of Human Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

September 18, 2019



          Tina Bowers Lee, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant Amber Boomhower.

          Katalina Wyninger, for appellant Mark Hosier.

          Andrew Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.

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


         Appellants Amber Boomhower and Mark Hosier appeal from the November 14, 2018 order of the Greene County Circuit Court terminating their parental rights to their children. Both Boomhower and Hosier challenge the circuit court's findings on statutory grounds for termination and best interest. We find no error and affirm.

         I. Procedural Facts and History

         Boomhower is the mother of WH (born 11/13/2006), LJ (born 8/10/2008), and MH (born 1/23/2015). Hosier is the legal father of MH and legal custodian of WH. LJ's legal father is not a party to this appeal. Boomhower and Hosier have a history of involvement with the Arkansas Department of Human Services (Department) dating back to April 9, 2013. In 2014, WH and MH spent three months in foster care, and the Department provided the family with various services including cleaning and teaching the parents how to clean. In September 2016, there was a true finding of environmental neglect. When the Department filed its petition for emergency custody, a protective-services case had been open since November 16, 2016, due to environmental neglect.

         On April 7, 2017, the Department exercised an emergency hold on the juveniles and filed a petition for emergency custody and dependency-neglect five days later. In the attached affidavit, the family-service worker averred that since the November 2016 protective-services case was opened, the home remained cluttered, the children continued to miss school, and the children were not assessed for mental-health services. The circuit court entered an ex parte order of emergency custody on April 12. On May 4, the circuit court held a probable-cause hearing, and it found that probable cause existed for the children to remain in the Department's custody.

         On June 5, 2017, the circuit court held an adjudication hearing, and the parties stipulated to a finding the children were dependent-neglected due to environmental neglect. The circuit court established a goal of reunification. Boomhower and Hosier were ordered to comply with the standard welfare orders of the Department and to follow the psychological-evaluation recommendations.

         At a subsequent review hearing, the court found that both Boomhower and Hosier had partially complied with the case plan, and the goal of the case continue to be reunification. At a permanency-planning hearing held on March 16, 2018, the court changed the goal of the case to adoption with a concurrent goal of permanent relative placement. The court did not make a finding regarding Boomhower's or Hosier's compliance. The court conducted a fifteen-month review hearing on June 25, and set concurrent goals of reunification and termination of parental rights/adoption. Again, the court made no compliance finding as to the parents.

         On August 31, 2018, the Department filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both parents on the basis of the following grounds: (1) twelve month failure to remedy (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(i)(a)) (Supp. 2017), (2) subsequent factors (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii)(a)), and (3) aggravated circumstances-little likelihood of successful reunification despite a reasonable offer of services (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(ix)(a)(3)(A)). The petition also alleged that termination was in the children's best interest.

         At the termination hearing on October 1, 2018, Stephanie Meeker, the program assistant assigned to the case through the Division of Children and Family Services, testified about her most recent visit to the home. Meeker explained that she was not immediately allowed into the home because Boomhower told her Hosier had stuff out that was not safe to be around. Boomhower eventually let Meeker into the home and told her it was some of Hosier's swords. When asked about the clutter that day, Meeker described it as "some trash underneath the bed, there was stuff kind of sitting everywhere." She went on to explain that "they have a lot of stuff and not a whole lot of places to put it." The children's rooms had an odor to them, and she noticed specks on the bathroom ...

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