FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72JV-17-699].
HONORABLE STACEY ZIMMERMAN, JUDGE
Tabitha McNulty, Arkansas Commission for Parent Counsel, for
K. Howard, Office of Chief Counsel, for appellee.
Chrestman Group, PLLC, by: Keith L. Chrestman, attorney ad
litem for minor children.
D. VAUGHT, JUDGE.
Huddleston appeals the order entered by the Washington County
Circuit Court terminating her parental rights to AH (born
August 9, 2015) and ID (born September 29, 2010). On appeal,
Huddleston argues that the circuit court clearly erred in
finding grounds supported the termination decision and erred
in finding that termination was in the best interest of AH
and ID. We affirm.
September 8, 2017, ID disclosed to law enforcement that
Huddleston's boyfriend, Will Hadley, had sexually abused
her. Huddleston told representatives of the Arkansas
Department of Human Services (DHS) that she was unaware of
the abuse and that she would protect her children. On
September 11, during a follow-up check, it was discovered
that ID had a red mark on her face. ID reported that
Huddleston had struck her as punishment for reporting the
abuse. ID further reported that Hadley had been in
Huddleston's home that morning. DHS removed ID, AH, and
from Huddleston's custody and placed them in foster care.
On September 13, DHS filed a petition for emergency custody
and dependency-neglect of all three children, and the circuit
court entered an order granting the petition that day. On
October 25, the circuit court ordered DHS to place JD in
inpatient residential treatment after finding that he had
been running away from school and had disrupted two
an adjudication hearing, the court entered an order on
November 2, finding that the children were
dependent-neglected and at substantial risk of serious harm
as a result of abuse, sexual abuse, and parental unfitness.
The court ordered Huddleston to, among other things,
cooperate with DHS, participate in individual counseling,
refrain from illegal drug use, submit to random drug screens,
obtain and maintain stable housing and employment,
demonstrate the ability to protect her children, follow the
case plan and court orders, and "not let people stay at
her home-Mother needs to show that she can make GOOD choices
about what people she has around her and her kids!!" The
goal of the case was reunification.
February 21, 2018, the circuit court held a review hearing
wherein it found Huddleston had maintained contact with DHS,
participated in counseling, submitted to drug screens, tested
negative for illegal substances, secured housing and
(disability) income, and was in parenting classes. The court
ordered Huddleston to continue to comply with the case plan
and "keep other people out of the home!!" The court
found that Huddleston "is continuing to develop her
parenting skills and is working, but not yet shown, she will
adequately protect the juveniles from harm."
March 8, the circuit court entered a review order that
discharged JD from his treatment facility and ordered a trial
home placement with Huddleston to begin on March 9. The order
provided that "[n]o one other than the Mother and [JD]
shall spend the night in the home!"
an emergency hearing on April 11, the circuit court entered
an order ending JD's trial home placement. The
court's order described a "meltdown" JD had in
court along with multiple behavioral issues he had at
school. The order also set forth Huddleston's
testimony at the emergency hearing that she allowed a man
named Christian in her home during the trial placement. The
court found that JD was a danger to himself and others and
ordered that he be placed in an acute treatment facility.
July 26 review order, the circuit court found Huddleston in
partial compliance with the case plan and court orders;
however, the court also found that she failed to demonstrate
the ability to keep her children safe and that she failed to
complete parenting classes and counseling. The circuit court
also found that it was in the best interest of AH and ID to
be placed separately from JD due to his severe mental-health
issues. The court continued the goal of reunification.
permanency-planning hearings on September 5 and October 4,
the court found that Huddleston had partially complied with
the case plan but had not demonstrated an ability to protect
the children and keep them safe from harm. The court found
that JD's trial home placement had ended because
Huddleston failed to keep men out of her home, which was the
cause of removal. The court again found that it was not in AH
and ID's best interest to be placed with JD. The court
changed the goal to adoption for all three children.
December 3, the circuit court entered an agreed order wherein
it found that ID had disrupted the placement with her foster
family. The court authorized DHS ...