FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04JV-18-117],
HONORABLE THOMAS E. SMITH, 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
T. WHITEAKER, Judge
Appellant Crystal Smallwood appeals a Benton County Circuit
Court order terminating her parental right to her son,
She challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence to
support the grounds necessary for termination. Because the
evidence was sufficient to support the grounds found by the
trial court, we affirm.
February 13, 2018, Smallwood gave birth to AM while
incarcerated at Wrightsville Prison. The Arkansas Department
of Human Services (DHS) exercised a seventy-two-hour hold on
the child because Smallwood did not have any family to act as
a caregiver for the child.
filed a petition alleging dependency-neglect as a result of
Smallwoods incarceration and the lack of a legal or
appropriate caregiver or custodian for the child. The
petition also noted that Smallwood had some mental health
problems rendering her unable to care for the baby. The trial
court adjudicated dependency-neglect in April 2018 based on
Smallwoods incarceration and set the goal of the case as
reunification with a concurrent goal of adoption.
Smallwood was released from prison in June 2018. The court
continued to monitor the compliance of both Smallwood and DHS
at review hearings held in July, August, and November 2018.
At each hearing, the court found that Smallwood had only
partially complied with the case plan and the courts orders
and that DHS had made reasonable efforts to provide services
and achieve reunification. After each hearing, the court
continued custody of AM with DHS. Throughout this hearing
process, Smallwood was represented by counsel. It does not
appear in our record that counsel ever objected to the trial
courts finding of reasonable efforts by DHS.
process of conducting these review hearings, the court became
aware of the magnitude of Smallwoods mental health issues.
The court also noted that Smallwood had lost custody of five
other children, which it believed was cause for concern.
Additionally, Smallwood was experiencing instability in
housing and had been homeless on several occasions during the
pending proceedings. The court indicated that it wanted to
know from a psychiatrist if Smallwood had the capacity to
care for AM and ordered Smallwood undergo a psychological
court conducted a permanency-planning hearing in December
2018. By this time, the court had been informed that
Smallwood suffered from substance-abuse issues in addition to
the issues of her mental health. The court ordered a
substance-abuse evaluation and treatment, if recommended;
random drug testing; and parenting classes. The court found
that AM could not be returned to Smallwoods custody at that
time nor could it approve a plan to return AM to her custody
within a reasonable time given her lack of housing. The court
then changed the goal to adoption with a concurrent goal of
January 2019, DHS filed a petition to terminate Smallwoods
parental rights, alleging several grounds for termination:
twelve-month failure to remedy; subsequent other factors;
aggravated circumstances— little likelihood of
successful reunification; and involuntary termination of
another child. The court ...