No. 853 Pittsburgh, 1981, Appeal from the Order dated July 15, 1981, Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, Forest County at No. O.C. 3-1981.
David M. Axinn, Franklin, for appellant.
Joseph E. Altomare, Tionesta, for appellee.
Spaeth, Johnson and Hoffman, JJ. Hoffman, J., dissents.
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 581]
Appellant R. J. B., the natural mother of C. M. E., appeals from the order terminating her parental rights in her child C. M. E. following a consolidated hearing on the petition for involuntary termination filed by Forest County Department of Youth and Children's Services (FCCS) and Appellant's Habeas Corpus petition.*fn1 Because of our determination that follows, we reverse the termination of Appellant's parental rights.
C. M. E. was born in April of 1974 and resided with Appellant in Venango County until April of 1980, at which time their residence was changed to Forest County. Between April of 1976 and February of 1980, C. M. E. was admitted to the hospital on nineteen occasions for sundry
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 582]
illnesses and injuries, as well as for scabies, burns, animal bites and ingestion of, inter alia, Librium.*fn2
While residing in Forest County, Appellant arranged for a babysitter to care for C. M. E. overnight on May 1, 1980 while she and her companion took an automobile to be inspected in a different county. Appellant told the sitter that she would return the following evening. On May 5, 1980, the sitter contacted FCCS, as Appellant had not returned home, nor provided her with sufficient food or clothing for the child. FCCS caseworkers took food to the babysitter and found the child to be without proper clothing and in poor health. Upon the discovery of the child's need for additional clothing, the caseworkers entered Appellant's apartment. There they found an eviction notice and the apartment unlocked. The babysitter informed the caseworkers that the landlord had left the apartment open to allow Appellant's dogs to have access to the outside. Large amounts of dog feces were present in the apartment and on the steps leading to the apartment. The caseworkers determined that the apartment was so unsanitary as to pose a health hazard to the child.
The caseworkers contacted the Sheriff's Department and took custody of C. M. E. Upon Appellant's return, she stated that the car had needed unforeseen repairs and that she did not have access to a telephone to contact the sitter concerning her delay. A shelter hearing was held on May 7, and on May 8 Appellant signed a consent decree giving FCCS custody of C. M. E. He was then placed in a foster home in Forest County and given immediate medical treatment for scabies.
FCCS then drafted a parenting plan on May 19, 1980 which Appellant was to follow in order to remedy the problems encountered by the caseworkers, for the return of the child. This six month plan included locating adequate
[ 301 Pa. Super. Page 583]
and safe housing, nutrition counseling, and parenting education. Appellant attended regularly all of the various classes, including mental health counseling for both Appellant and her husband. However, counseling was determined to be unproductive, because Appellant failed to communicate verbally in many cases and failed to actively participate in the programs, despite her attendance. The parenting classes ended after five months, as the counselor felt no progress was being made.
In the meantime, Appellant and her present husband moved to Venango County in July of 1980. Their new residence was again determined to be substandard and the parties moved, again, to a substandard dwelling. Upon the next move, Appellant's current address, the dwelling was determined to be satisfactory if certain improvements were made.
Appellant was allowed visitation with C. M. E. during this period after his placement in the foster home and Appellant took advantage of this visitation, often taking gifts to the child. Also, Appellant did ...