in the Court of Appeals 27 June 2019.
by respondent-mother from order entered 3 July 2018 by Judge
J.H. Corpening II in New Hanover County District Court.
brief filed for petitioner-appellee New Hanover County
Department of Social Services.
McCullers Reece for respondent-appellant mother.
Bond Dickenson (US) LLP, by Jessica Gorczynski, for guardian
appeals from an order terminating her parental rights to her
minor daughters, C.N. ("Carrie") and A.N.
("Anne"). See N.C. R. App. P. 42(b)
(pseudonyms are used to protect the identity of the
juveniles). The order also terminates the parental rights of
the legal father of A.N. and putative father of C.N. and the
unknown father of C.N. No father is a party to this appeal.
We reverse the trial court's order as it relates to
about 28 June 2016, EMS and law enforcement responded to a
911 call regarding a child who had suffered chemical burns.
Carrie was treated for corneal abrasions and chemical burns
on her tongue in the New Hanover Regional Medical Center
Emergency Department and was kept overnight for observation.
reported Carrie had pulled up on a table and spilled an open
bottle of Mr. Clean liquid detergent onto herself. EMS and
law enforcement who responded to the 911 call reported that
conditions inside the home were dirty and in poor shape.
Needles were found inside the home. Respondent-mother
admitted to using marijuana within the previous week and had
reported past incidents of domestic violence. Concerns were
also expressed about Respondent-mother's mental health.
to the this incident, the New Hanover County Department of
Social Services ("DSS") had received a report in
May 2016 that Anne was found wandering alone behind a Roses
retail store off of Carolina Beach Road. DSS obtained
nonsecure custody of eleven-month-old Carrie and two-year-old
Anne and filed a juvenile petition alleging they were
neglected juveniles. Nonsecure custody with DSS was continued
and the juveniles were placed with Respondent-mother's
stipulated at the adjudication hearing to the allegations in
the juvenile petition that Carrie and Anne were neglected, as
they did not receive proper care, supervision or discipline
and lived in an environment injurious to their welfare.
trial court adjudicated Carrie and Anne to be neglected
juveniles based upon Respondent-mother's stipulation. The
trial court determined their best interests were served for
legal custody and placement authority to remain with DSS and
to continue their placement in the Respondent-mother's
trial court also adopted the recommendations of DSS and the
guardian ad litem ("GAL") for
Respondent-mother's case plan and ordered
Respondent-mother to: (1) obtain and maintain stable income;
(2) obtain and maintain stable housing; (3) complete a mental
health assessment; (4) comply with all recommendations; (5)
sign releases for DSS and GAL; (6) submit to random drug
screens; (7) successfully complete substance abuse treatment;
and (8) successfully complete parenting classes.
Respondent-mother was scheduled for weekly supervised
permanency planning hearing was held on 3 May 2017, after
which the trial court entered its order on 23 June 2017. DSS
asserted Respondent-mother was "not actively
participating in her treatment plan," had not obtained
stable housing, and had not shown up for the majority of the
requested drug screens. Respondent-mother responded that she
had completed her comprehensive clinical assessment
("CCA") and parenting classes, but had difficulties
with a cell phone. The trial court changed the primary
permanent plan for Carrie and Anne from reunification to
legal guardianship with Respondent-mother's sister with a
concurrent plan of reunification.
permanency planning hearing was held on 26 September 2017,
after which the trial court entered an order on 13 November
2017, followed by an amended permanency planning order on 16
January 2018. The trial court found that the juveniles were
"currently placed in foster care after their kinship
placement with [their] maternal aunt [was] disrupted[,
]" and that "Respondent-[m]other is not actively
participating in her treatment plan[, ]" "has not
consistently engaged in services[, ]" and "does not
show up for the majority of the requested drug screens."
The order reflects Respondent-mother had submitted proof of
employment, secured housing, and asserted that transportation
was an issue and requested bus passes.
trial court ordered DSS to provide bus passes to
Respondent-mother and ordered a home study on
Respondent-mother's home. The court changed the primary
permanent plan for Carrie and ...