FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17JV-17-112]
HONORABLE MICHAEL MEDLOCK, JUDGE.
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
Firth, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
J. GLADWIN, Judge.
Dalana Phillips appeals the January 14, 2019 order of the
Crawford County Circuit Court terminating her parental rights
to her three minor children, R.M., S.M., and C.P. Dalana
makes a limited argument that termination of her parental
rights was not in the children's best interest because
the children were living with their grandparents. We affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
24, 2017, at approximately 1:00 p.m., officers from the Van
Buren Police Department were called to 1015 Twilight Lane
after receiving a report that a child had been left home
alone. Once on the scene, Officer Dewayne Richesin called the
Crawford County Department of Children and Family Services
for assistance. Family Service Worker (FSW) Crystal Mikus
arrived at the residence at approximately 2:15 p.m. and was
met by Officer Richesin, who explained that five-year-old
C.P. was home alone because his father, Aaron
Matevia, ran from the residence when Officer
Richesin entered the residence and noted the apparent drug
use by Aaron.
Mikus and Officer Richesin then spoke with R.M.'s teacher
and counselor from Rena Elementary who had originally called
for assistance to the residence. After gathering information
on when the other two siblings would arrive home on the
school bus, FSW Mikus and Officer Richesin called several
phone numbers in an unsuccessful attempt to reach Dalana. The
children's grandmother arrived at the residence and
explained that Dalana did not have a phone and that she did
not have a way of reaching her daughter. By this time, Aaron
had been located and placed under arrest on multiple charges
and warrants. FSW Mikus advised the grandmother that the
children would be taken into custody if Dalana was not
located. At approximately 3:35 p.m., R.M. and S.M. arrived at
the residence from school, at which time FSW Mikus placed a
seventy-two-hour hold on all three children.
following day, May 25, at 9:00 a.m., Dalana arrived at the
Crawford County Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)
office to speak with FSW Mikus. Dalana stated that she was
currently in drug classes as a condition of her parole and
had been clean since she left prison. FSW Mikus administered
a drug screen on Dalana at 9:30 a.m., and she tested positive
for amphetamines, methamphetamine, and oxycodone. Dalana
admitted that she had used drugs the previous night but
stated that she is not a regular user.
26, DHS filed a petition for emergency custody and
dependency-neglect. The court entered an emergency order and
found that probable cause existed to not only remove the
children from the home but also to maintain them in DHS
to a hearing held on March 31, 2017, by order entered July
13, the court found that at the time of removal, Aaron had
been arrested, Dalana could not be found, and at the time of
contact with her the day after the children were removed,
Dalana tested positive for amphetamines, methamphetamine, and
oxycodone in spite of being on parole and in drug court.
Based on those findings, the court adjudicated the children
dependent-neglected because they were subject to
"neglect, inadequate supervision and parental unfitness
due to the caretakers being unwilling or unable to meet the
children's needs for food, clothing, shelter and/or
medical or mental health care; allegations involving physical
and sexual abuse; and the caretakers' current substance
use seriously affecting their ability to supervise, protect,
or care for the juveniles." The court set a goal of
reunification and ordered Dalana to complete services.
31, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma filed a notice of
intervention asserting the children are Indian children under
the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The court accepted that
intervention on August 1.
review hearing was held on November 16. Although Dalana did
not attend because she was incarcerated, the court found that
she had partially complied with the case plan and orders of
the court. The court ordered her to continue complying after
second review hearing was held on March 1, 2018. Dalana had
been released from incarceration and was in attendance. In an
order dated the same day, the court found that she again had
partially complied with the case plan and orders of the
court; however, the court characterized Dalana's
compliance as minimal because although she was cooperating
with DHS, she remained unemployed, did not have stable
housing, and had tested positive for illegal substances
during the review period. The court further found that Dalana
had minimally benefited from her progress regarding case-plan
goals. The court kept the goal of reunification but set a
concurrent goal of placement with a fit and willing relative
because the case-plan requirements were
permanency-planning hearing was held on May 17, 2018. The
court found that Dalana, who was in attendance, had not
complied with the case plan or the orders of the court
because she had admitted using methamphetamine during the
review period; she did not have stable and appropriate
housing; and she again was incarcerated due to parole
violations during the review period. However, the court also
found that Dalana had visited with her children regularly,
she had displayed appropriate parenting techniques, and she
was scheduled to enter inpatient treatment within the week.
Because Dalana was bonded with the children, the court kept
the goal of reunification but also continued a goal of
placement with a fit relative. The court also ordered that
reunification services continue.
September 13, 2018 review hearing, the court found that
Dalana had not complied with the case plan or the orders of
the court because she (1) left inpatient treatment early; (2)
tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamines during
the review period; (3) remained incarcerated; (4) had not
complied with her parole conditions; (5) had no housing,
employment, or transportation; (6) had not cooperated with
DHS; and (7) had ceased participating in counseling services.
The court noted, however, that Dalana continued to visit her
children and displayed appropriate parenting skills while