IN THE INTEREST OF: C.K., MINOR APPEAL OF: J.S., FATHERIN IN THE INTEREST OF: L.S., MINOR APPEAL OF: J.S., FATHER
Appeal from the Decree entered February 26, 2013, Court of Common Pleas, Monroe County, Orphans' Court at Nos. 59 O.C.A. 2012, 60 O.C.A. 2012
BEFORE: DONOHUE, WECHT and STRASSBURGERJ[*], JJ.
J.S. ("Father") appeals from the February 26, 2013 decrees entered by the Court of Common Pleas, Monroe County, granting the petitions filed by Monroe County Children and Youth Services ("CYS") to terminate his parental rights to his daughters, C.K. (born June of 2012) and L.S. (born January of 2011) (collectively "Children"). After careful review, we affirm.
Father and S.K. ("Mother") have a lengthy history with CYS, dating back to 2007. There have been ongoing concerns about parents' criminal activity, drug and alcohol use, and housing stability. When L.S. was born, two of Mother's older children, one of whom was also Father's child, were in foster care placements.
Following a shelter care hearing on November 15, 2011, L.S. was placed in foster care based upon Mother's positive urine screen for alcohol, which led to her incarceration for violating her parole. Father was also incarcerated at that time. On November 21, 2011, the dependency court adjudicated L.S. dependent pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302(1). At the time of the termination hearings, L.S. remained in her initial foster care placement.
On July 17, 2012, the dependency court adjudicated C.K. dependent pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302(10) based upon the termination of parents' rights to C.K.'s older sister, D.D., and half-brother, J.C.,  and parents' continued failure to comply with their existing family service plan goals, which placed C.K. at risk. The dependency court further found the existence of aggravated circumstances as to Mother. Although C.K. originally remained at home, she was placed in foster care shortly after her adjudication when Father was arrested for failure to pay child support and CYS was unable to locate Mother. C.K. was placed in the same foster home as L.S., where she remained at the time of the termination hearings. After C.K.'s removal from parents, CYS learned that she had missed several doctor appointments. CYS also learned that C.K. was underweight – at five weeks old, she weighed the same as she did at birth.
Father and Mother continued to have unstable housing following Children's removal from their care. They had several apartments, but were evicted from each for nonpayment of rent. At the time of the termination hearings, Father was living with a coworker and Mother was living first with her sister in a two-bedroom apartment and then with her mother in a hotel. At the second of the two termination hearings, Father presented a lease for a three-bedroom residence to the orphans' court that he and Mother entered into three days prior to the hearing. They had not yet moved in.
Mother and Father attended supervised visits with Children fairly consistently at the CYS office. During a visit in August of 2012, however, Father threatened a CYS caseworker, which resulted in his arrest and incarceration for violating his parole. He remained incarcerated until October of 2012.
CYS filed petitions to terminate parents' rights to Children on November 7, 2012. CYS also filed a petition for a finding that aggravated circumstances existed as to Father with respect to C.K. The orphans' court held a hearing on the petition on November 19, 2012. At the conclusion of the hearing, it found the existence of aggravated circumstances as to Father regarding C.K. See supra, n.5. The court deferred ruling on the termination petition, giving parents an additional three months "to show a little more consistency[.]" N.T., 2/25/13, at 5. At the continued termination hearing on February 25, 2013, testimony revealed that Mother lost her job and was facing incarceration on new criminal charges. Father had been incarcerated for 30 days for failing to pay child support and did not contact the CYS caseworker to resume visits with Children until a month after his release. Testimony further revealed that Children remained in their foster care placement together, were doing very well, and were bonded with their foster parents.
On February 26, 2013, the orphans' court entered decrees terminating parents' rights to L.S. pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(1), (2), (5), (8), and (b), and terminating parents' rights to C.K. pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 2511(a)(2) and (b). Father filed timely notices of appeal from both decrees. Because the two appeals raise the same questions, we consolidate the cases for a single decision pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 513.
Father raises the following issues for our review:
[1.] Did [CYS] fail to present clear and convincing evidence that termination of [F]ather's parental rights served the emotional needs and ...