FROM THE CONWAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 15JV-17-50]
HONORABLE TERRY SULLIVAN, JUDGE
Lanford, Arkansas Public Defender Commission, for appellant.
K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
Amanda Easter appeals from the February 4, 2019 order of the
Conway County Circuit Court terminating her parental rights
to her children. Easter challenges the circuit court's
findings on statutory grounds for termination and best
interest. We find no error and affirm.
Procedural Facts and History
is the mother of KY (born 7/26/2016) and twins HE and NE
(born 9/05/2012). HE and NE's legal father, Russell
Easter, filed a consent to termination. KY's father is
not a party to this appeal. This is not the first contact the
Arkansas Department of Human Services (Department) has had
with this family. In 2014, the twins spent six months in
foster care due to environmental neglect and inadequate
supervision resulting from Easter's use of
5, 2017, the Department exercised an emergency hold on the
children and filed a petition for emergency custody and
dependency-neglect two days later. The Department initiated
an investigation into the welfare of the children after
receiving information from a caller to its hotline that the
children were being left alone while Easter "runs around
the trailer park high on methamphetamine" and that two
of the children had feeding tubes and were not being fed
properly. The social worker who responded to the call
determined that the children could not safely remain in the
home because Easter tested positive for methamphetamine and
appeared to be under the influence. The circuit court entered
an ex parte order of emergency custody on June 7. On June 9,
the circuit court held a probable-cause hearing, and it found
that probable cause existed for the children to remain in the
adjudication hearing conducted on July 27, the court
adjudicated the children dependent-neglected after Easter
stipulated that the children had not been adequately
supervised due to her drug use. The circuit court established
a goal of reunification. Easter was ordered to comply with
the standard welfare orders of the Department that, among
other things, ordered her to submit to random drug screens,
attend and complete parenting classes, obtain and maintain
stable and appropriate housing and gainful employment, attend
counseling, and submit to a drug-and-alcohol assessment.
review hearing on October 26, the court found that Easter had
complied with the case plan but noted that she had not been
able to maintain steady housing and employment. The goal of
the case continued to be reunification.
February 1, 2018 review hearing, the court found that Easter
had "substantially complied" with the case plan and
the court's orders. The court noted specifically that she
had submitted to a psychological evaluation as well as a
drug-and-alcohol assessment but that she had elected to wait
for inpatient treatment because the facility had a policy
that prohibited romantic partners from being in the program
simultaneously. Easter's boyfriend at the time, John
Yard, was in the program but had recently left it
prematurely. The order stated that they are no longer a
couple. Also, Easter still did not have stable employment or
housing. The goal of the case continued to be reunification.
permanency-planning hearing held on May 24, the goal of the
case continued to be reunification, and the court found that
Easter was substantially complying with the case plan.
Specifically, the court found that Easter was compliant with
her counseling, so it gave her an additional three months to
work toward reunification.
fifteen-month review hearing, the circuit court changed the
goal of the case to adoption with termination of parental
rights. The circuit court found that Easter had only
partially complied with the case plan and that she was
employed but still did not have a suitable home for the
children. The court specifically found she had lived in