FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, ELEVENTH DIVISION [NO.
60JV-18-40], HONORABLE PATRICIA JAMES, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Commission for Parent Counsel, for
K. Howard, Jonesboro, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad litem for
S. HIXSON, Judge
Appellant Brittany Migues appeals after the Pulaski County
Circuit Court filed an order terminating her parental rights
to A.T. (DOB 1-10-2017). Appellant argues on appeal that the
evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that termination was
in A.T.s best interest when there were multiple available
relatives and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS)
failed to fully explore relative placement in compliance with
the concurrent goal of the case established by the trial
court. We affirm.
January 12, 2018, DHS filed a petition for ex parte emergency
custody and dependency-neglect of A.T. In the affidavit
attached to the petition, DHS stated that a seventy-two-hour
hold was exercised over A.T. due to inadequate supervision,
environmental neglect, and inadequate shelter.
Appellant had been homeless and lived in various shelters
with A.T. After appellant was arrested on January 9, 2018,
A.T. was left with another homeless friend who was unable to
meet A.T.s needs. The trial court granted the petition,
finding that probable cause existed for the removal, and a
probable-cause order was filed on January 17, 2018. Appellant
was ordered to submit to random drug screens, complete a
drug-and-alcohol assessment and follow any recommendations,
complete a counseling assessment and follow any
recommendations, submit to a psychological evaluation,
successfully complete counseling if recommended, successfully
complete parenting classes, and maintain stable housing and
March 7, 2018 adjudication order, A.T. was found to be
dependent-neglected as a result of neglect and parental
unfitness in that appellant was in jail at the time of
removal and her whereabouts were unknown at the time of the
adjudication hearing. The goal of the case was set to
reunification with a parent, and the dependency-neglect case
proceeded in the normal course with further hearings.
July 9, 2018 review hearing, appellant testified that she had
been incarcerated but had been released on January 30, 2018.
She was on probation and was residing at Dorcas House. The
DHS caseworker testified that the paternal great-grandmother
and grandfather had been identified as potential
relative-placement candidates but that they lived out of
state, which required DHS to complete placement packets under
the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC).
Ark. Code Ann. § 9-29-201 to -301 (Repl. 2015). Appellant
testified that she did not want A.T. placed out of state. In
its order, the trial court noted that appellant was
"finally getting started" with her compliance. It
further changed the goal of the case to reunification with a
concurrent goal of relative placement. It ordered DHS to
conduct home evaluations on any appropriate, willing
relatives. The trial court further noted, "Mother is
adamantly against out-of-state placement of the juvenile.
Mother needs to get herself healthy and stable, or these out
of state relatives will be considered for long-term
permanency-planning hearing was held on January 7, 2019. It
was at this hearing that the trial court changed the goal to
adoption. DHSs witness, Mary OConnor, testified that A.T.s
paternal grandfather stated that he did not have stable
placement for A.T. and that he no longer lived in the state
where he had initially requested ICPC submission. Appellant
had left Dorcas House, and both parents were incarcerated at
the time of the hearing. The trial court found that DHS had
made reasonable efforts to provide services and achieve the
goal of the case. Finally, the trial court ordered DHS to
"work on expedited ICPC referrals for any viable
relatives that may exist. This was held up previously because
of mothers adamancy that she wanted the child to remain in
Arkansas at the last hearing."
termination hearing, Angela Brown testified that she is the
adoption specialist assigned to this case. Ms. Brown
testified that there were 378 matching families that would be
interested in adopting A.T.
Brandon Taplin, A.T.s father, testified that although he was
incarcerated, either his grandmother, Adrianne Wilkerson, or