in the Court of Appeals 3 April 2017.
by respondent from order entered 29 June 2016 by Judge Ty
Hands in Mecklenburg County, No. 16 JA 151 District Court.
Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Youth and
Family Services, by Associate Attorney Christopher C. Peace,
Anné C. Wright for respondent-appellant.
Guardian ad Litem Appellate Counsel Matthew D. Wunsche for
guardian ad litem.
("Respondent") appeals from an order adjudicating
her minor daughter A.P. to be a neglected and dependent
juvenile. The Mecklenburg County Department of Social
Services ("MCDSS") did not have standing to file
the juvenile petition. We vacate the trial court's order.
time of A.P.'s birth in August 2015, Respondent was
living at the Church of God Children's Home (the
"Home") in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Shortly
after A.P.'s birth, Respondent began to display
irrational behavior. The Home's staff believed Respondent
demonstrated a need for a higher level of care than they
could provide her. On 22 September 2015, Respondent was taken
to the Carolinas Medical Center-Northeast emergency room in
Cabarrus County. She was subsequently involuntarily committed
for mental health treatment in Mecklenburg County. Respondent
agreed to a safety plan with the Cabarrus County Department
of Social Services ("CCDSS") to allow her daughter
to live at the Rowan County home of Ms. B., an employee of
the Church of God Children's Home, while Respondent was
undergoing in-patient mental health treatment.
subsequently identified her grandfather's home in
Mecklenburg County as a place where she could live with A.P.
upon her release from in-patient mental health treatment. In
October 2015, CCDSS asked MCDSS to investigate the
appropriateness of the grandfather's home for A.P. MCDSS
found her grandfather's home to be appropriate.
Respondent moved into the home with A.P. Respondent entered
into an agreement with CCDSS that she would cooperate with
MCDSS in developing and following an in-home family services
plan, and CCDSS transferred the social services case to
November 2015, Respondent's sister discovered Respondent
and A.P. were living away from her grandfather's home in
a dilapidated house in Mecklenburg County. Respondent's
sister took A.P. to Ms. B., and MCDSS subsequently approved
the placement of A.P. with Ms. B. MCDSS investigated the
conditions in which Respondent and A.P. had been living, and
determined that Respondent needed intensive out-patient
substance abuse treatment and other services. Respondent
initially engaged in services, which were performed in
Mecklenburg County. On 10 December 2015, Respondent notified
MCDSS that she had moved to South Carolina.
18 December 2015 meeting with MCDSS, Respondent agreed A.P.
would continue to stay with Ms. B., while she lived with a
family friend in South Carolina. Respondent returned to
Mecklenburg County in January 2016. She was subsequently
jailed in Mecklenburg County on unidentified criminal
charges. From 18 to 20 February 2016, Respondent was again an
inpatient at Davidson Mental Health Hospital in Mecklenburg
March 2016, Respondent informed MCDSS that she was residing
in Cabarrus County. On 23 March 2016, Ms. B. informed MCDSS
that she could no longer care for A.P. On 29 March, MCDSS
obtained a nonsecure custody order from a Mecklenburg County
magistrate, which did not list an address for either
Respondent or A.P. Also on 29 March 2016, MCDSS retrieved the
child from Ms. B. in Rowan County.
March 2017, MCDSS filed the nonsecure custody order and a
juvenile petition alleging A.P. was a neglected and dependent
juvenile. After a hearing on 17 May 2016, the trial court
entered an adjudication and disposition order on 29 June
2016, in which it concluded that A.P. is a neglected and
dependent juvenile. The court continued custody of A.P. with
MCDSS, with placement in MCDSS's discretion. The court
granted Respondent supervised visitation with A.P. and
ordered Respondent to enter into an out-of-home family