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H. B. (05/20/81)

submitted: May 20, 1981.

IN THE INTEREST OF H. B., A MINOR. APPEAL OF M. L. B.


No. 263 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Juvenile Division, No. 614 of 1979.

COUNSEL

Thomas E. Kuhn, Erie, for appellant.

Joseph T. Kownacki, Erie, for H. B., appellee.

William A. Dopierala, Erie, for Children's Services, participating party.

Montgomery, Hoffman and Van der Voort, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 293 Pa. Super. Page 110]

Appellant contends that the lower court erred in adjudicating her daughter dependent and ordering that the child be placed in foster care under the supervision of Children's Services of Erie County (CSEC). For the reasons which follow, we vacate the order of the lower court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

On November 15, 1979, appellant's daughter, H. B., then six months old, was taken into custody and placed in temporary foster care pursuant to an order of the lower court. On that same day CSEC filed a petition pursuant to the Juvenile Act*fn1 requesting that the child be declared dependent. Following a detention hearing before a master,*fn2 the lower

[ 293 Pa. Super. Page 111]

    court ordered that the child be kept in foster care pending proceedings on the dependency petition. Thereafter, on November 28 and December 3, 1979, the master heard testimony from various witnesses on the issue of dependency. At the close of these proceedings the master issued a report in which he concluded that the evidence did not warrant an adjudication of dependency and recommended that the petition be dismissed. CSEC filed exceptions to the master's report, and the lower court heard argument thereon. Without taking any further testimony, the court issued an order on January 23, 1980, in which it rejected the master's recommendation and adjudicated the child dependent. Subsequently, on February 22, 1980, the court ordered, inter alia, that the child continue indefinitely in foster care under the supervision of CSEC.*fn3 This appeal followed.*fn4

The facts underlying the decision of the lower court are substantially undisputed. At the time of the proceedings below appellant was twenty years old, unmarried, unemployed,

[ 293 Pa. Super. Page 112]

    and on welfare.*fn5 In late August or early September, 1979, appellant contacted CSEC and requested assistance in finding a new residence and developing parenting skills.*fn6 Although appellant had been living in her mother's home, the mother had asked her to leave, and appellant lacked the means to procure new housing and provide properly for her infant daughter. A CSEC caseworker contacted appellant on September 18, and the next day appellant voluntarily placed her daughter in a foster home for thirty days so that she could try to secure a new residence. Appellant thereafter stayed with friends at various addresses until she obtained an ...


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