Appeal from the Order Docketed February 18, 1988 in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Juvenile Division, at No. J. 980 of 1976.
Virginia I. Cook, Pittsburgh, for appellants.
Licia Iannuzzi, Pittsburgh, for Allegheny County Children and Youth Services, participating party.
Rowley, Melinson and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 389 Pa. Super. Page 81]
This appeal is from an order below granting a petition to remove a child, Mary Ann Manuel, from the custody of appellants, Henry and Martha Morris, and placing her in shelter care under the supervision of appellee, Allegheny County Children and Youth Services ("CYS"). Appellants contend that the lower court erred in entering its order because it failed to advise them of their right to counsel at the hearing. For the reasons that follow, we agree and,
[ 389 Pa. Super. Page 82]
accordingly, we reverse the order below and remand for further proceedings consistent with this memorandum.
Mary Ann Manuel was born on April 21, 1976. On the petition of CYS, she was adjudicated dependent*fn1 on May 6, 1976 and placed in temporary foster care. By a shelter order dated January 5, 1977 she was placed in the custody of appellants under the continuing supervision of CYS.*fn2 On
[ 389 Pa. Super. Page 83]
March 18, 1982 Mary Ann was removed from the custody of appellants and placed at Holy Family Institute, a treatment and care facility for dependent children. Appellants contested this placement, and Mary Ann was returned to their custody on January 26, 1983. Sometime in January or early February, 1988, CYS filed a shelter petition pursuant to the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6301 et seq., seeking removal of Mary Ann from appellants' custody.*fn3 Because Mary Ann had already been adjudicated dependent, and had been sheltered by appellants for some time, the court scheduled a § 6341 dispositional hearing in response to appellee's petition. See, e.g., In re Hall, 288 Pa. Super. 495, 432 A.2d 621 (1981). At the hearing on February 18, 1988, CYS maintained that it was seeking to remove the child because appellants terminated Mary Ann's therapy, did not cooperate in attempts to reinstitute it, and refused to allow Mary Ann to attend scheduled counseling. Although appellants were present at the hearing, they were unrepresented by counsel and presented no evidence. The only evidence presented was that of CYS. Based on this evidence, the court found that it would be in Mary Ann's best interest to be removed from appellants' custody and placed in a residential program that would provide her regular care and therapy. That same day, the court issued a shelter order removing her from appellants' custody and placing her at the Holy Family Institute. This appeal followed.*fn4
Appellants initially contend that the trial court erred in holding a hearing to determine the placement of a child in their care without first advising them of their right to ...