IN THE INTEREST OF: K.S.W., JR., A MINOR APPEAL OF: K.S.W., SR., FATHERIN THE INTEREST OF: K.S.W., JR., A MINOR APPEAL OF: T.S.T., MOTHER
Appeal from the Order entered February 1, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Family Court at No(s): CP-51-AP-0000040-2013.
BEFORE: PANELLA, OLSON, and PLATT [*], JJ.
Appellants, K.S.W., Sr., ("Father"), and T.S.T. ("Mother"), appealfrom the orders entered on February 1, 2013, terminating Father's and Mother's parental rights to their son, K.S.W., Jr., (born in September of 2005) ("Child") and changing the permanency goal for Child to adoption pursuant to section 6351 of the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6351. We affirm.
The record reveals the following relevant facts and procedural history. The family first came to the attention of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services ("DHS") on September 3, 2010, as the result of a General Protection report. The General Protective Services report ("GPS") alleged that Mother gave birth to Child's sibling, A., in August of 2010. The GPS report alleged that Mother suffered from mental illness, and that she did not have any of her other children in her personal care. Child resided with Father at the time. On September 8, 2010, Mother was discharged from the hospital, at which time Mother and baby A. resided with A.B., who is not baby A.'s natural father. The GPS report received at the time was substantiated. Trial Court Opinion, 5/22/13 at 1-2.
On September 16, 2010, DHS learned that Child was not up-to-date with his immunizations, and that he had not been examined by a pediatrician since April of 2008. In addition, Child suffers from severe asthma, and he had been taken to the emergency room three times during the previous summer due to respiratory distress caused by mismanagement of his asthma condition. It was reported that Child did not receive any follow-up care subsequent to his hospital discharges. Id. at 2.
A DHS social worker, Terry Bailey, was assigned to Child's case. On September 27, 2010, Ms. Bailey found Father and Child living with Father's friend, R.J., in the home of R.J.'s paramour. On October 8, 2010, Ms. Bailey implemented In-Home Protective Services ("IHPS"). In December of 2010, Father, Child, and R.J. were evicted from the home due to a disagreement between R.J. and his paramour. At that time, Father asked R.W., his sister and Child's aunt ("Paternal Aunt"), to care for Child. However, Father refused to provide financial assistance. Father did provide transportation to and from school, and Father did help Child with his homework. DHS learned shortly after Child's move that he was involved in sexually inappropriate behavior at school and he was referred for psychological and psychosexual evaluations at the Joseph J. Peters Institute ("JJPI). Id.
On October 12, 2010, a Family Service Plan ("FSP") was developed for the family. The stated classification for Child was "At Imminent Risk of Being Removed From the Home." DHS did not provide Mother with any FSP objectives. Father's objectives were to: (1) attend parenting classes and a support group for asthma; (2) attend all of Child's medical appointments; provide a safe home for the family with operable utilities; and, attend training/vocational programs. DHS noted that Mother was severely cognitively impaired, and that two of her other children were not in her custody, one of whom was under the care of DHS. DHS also observed that Child had not had a well-child appointment since he was thirty-three months of age, and that he had been diagnosed with severe asthma. Id. at 2-3.
In May of 2011, DHS discovered that Father was hitting Child on the head when he became frustrated with Child over his homework. Ms. Bailey and the IHPS worker visited the home where Child resided and told Father that he cannot and must not address his frustration over Child's homework with physical discipline. Father informed Ms. Bailey and the IHPS worker that, if he could not physically discipline Child, then he would no longer assist Child with his homework, or care for him in general. Id. at 3.
On June 23, 2011, another FSP meeting was held. The goals for Child and Father remained the same. The FSP goal for Mother was to comply with all treatment recommendations, including therapy and medication as prescribed. DHS noted that Father's whereabouts were unknown, and that Child continued to reside with Paternal Aunt. Id. 4.
On July 8, 2011, an adjudicatory hearing was held, and the trial court adjudicated Child dependent. Child was committed to DHS's care, and DHS ordered both Father and Mother to the Achieving Reunification Center ("ARC") for service. Father was referred to JJPI, and Mother was referred to Behavioral Health Services ("BHS") for appropriate intervention. Id.
A permanency hearing was held on October 4, 2011. Mother was found not to be compliant with her FSP objective, while Father was found to be in minimal compliance with his FSP objectives. The trial court ordered DHS to schedule Child for a full psychosexual evaluation. Id.
A permanency review hearing was held on January 3, 2012. Father was found to be in substantial compliance with his FSP objectives, and Mother was found to be in minimal compliance with her FSP objectives. Mother was attending the ARC, but her case was closed out due to her non-compliance. Id. Father was attending ARC consistently and was maintaining regular telephone contact with Child. Id. The master ordered a Parent Locator System ("PLS") search for Mother. Id.
On March 27, 2012, a permanency review hearing was held before the trial court. The trial court found that Mother was not in compliance with her FSP objective. Mother was referred to ARC, but was not attending. Moreover, Mother had not visited with Child. Conversely, Father was in substantial compliance with his FSP objectives. The trial court determined that Father was attending ARC regularly, but that Father's visitation with Child was inconsistent. The court ordered that family therapy was to be implemented when appropriate, and that DHS was to follow-up with Child's psychosexual evaluation. Id. at 4-5.
On June 26, 2012, the FSP was revised and Child's permanency goal was changed to adoption. DHS added the additional goal of attending parenting education training in addition to the other goals from the previous FSP. DHS noted that Father had unstable and inappropriate housing, that Father's visitation with Child was sporadic, and that Father desired to relinquish his parental rights to Child. In addition, DHS found that Mother had ongoing mental health issues and mental impairment, that Mother was non-compliant with her FSP objectives, and that she had not bonded with Child. Father attended the hearing and signed the new FSP. Mother did not attend the hearing. Id. at 5.
On September 7, 2012, another permanency review hearing was held, and the trial court found both Father and Mother to be in minimal compliance with their FSP objectives. The court further recognized that Father and Mother visited Child sporadically and were discharged from ARC due to their non-compliance. Id. at 5-6.
On December 28, 2012, the FSP was reviewed, and the permanency goal remained adoption. Mother was given FSP objectives of (1) attending parenting education concerning asthma, (2) attending all of Child's medical appointments, (3) providing safe and appropriate housing, and (4) participating in a parenting capacity evaluation. DHS noted that Father was unable to provide appropriate housing; that his visitation of Child was sporadic; and that Father was willing to voluntarily relinquish his parental rights to Child. DHS also asserted that Mother was non-compliant with all of her objectives and never maintained consistent contact with Child. Father did not attend the hearing. On the other hand, Mother attended the hearing, but refused to sign the new FSP. Id. at 6.
On January 17, 2013, DHS filed petitions to involuntarily terminate Father's and Mother's parental rights to Child and petitions to change Child's permanency goal to adoption. A termination hearing was held on February 1, 2013.
At the hearing, Ms. Bailey testified that, at the time of the termination hearing, Father was renting a room in a boarding house. Ms. Bailey also testified that Father had never provided any documentation that he completed any class at ARC, and that Father was discharged from ARC due to noncompliance. Ms. Bailey noted that Father did not participate in Child's therapy beyond the intake appointment, and never called to inquire as to Child's progress in his therapy. N.T., 2/1/13, at 34-35. Ms. Bailey testified that DHS petitioned the trial court to terminate the parental rights of Father due to "[h]ousing and inconsistent, irregular contact with [K.W.], and. . . parent education about [asthma]. And because of K.W.'s other behavioral problems." Id. at 38.
As to Mother, Ms. Bailey testified that, although Mother was referred to BHS, she did not comply with the referral, and that Mother never provided documental regarding any mental health treatment. Ms. Bailey further testified that she had concerns regarding "cognitive abilities to care for [K.W.], " which she based partly on Mother's other children being removed from her care and GPS reports of abandonment. Id. at 29-30. Ms. Bailey asserted she completed a PLS search on Mother in order to acquire her home address. However, when she made an unannounced visit to the home, she was unable to gain access. Id. at 30.
Ms. Bailey testified that, although Mother was referred to ARC, she never participated in any of the ARC programs, and that Mother's case was closed in 2011. Mother was re-referred to ARC, but she never took part in any of the services. Ms. Bailey acknowledged that Mother never inquired about Child's therapy or schooling, and that Mother never attended any of Child's medical appointments. Id. at 32-33. Ms. Bailey testified that she sent correspondence to Mother repeatedly between the beginning of the case in September of 2010 and the last FSP meeting in December of 2012, and that none of the mail was returned. Ms. Bailey conceded that Mother had only attended one FSP meeting, i.e., in December of 2012, and made her first court appearance at the termination hearing. Id. at 42-44.
Ms. Bailey noted that Mother's visits never progressed beyond supervised visits, and, during Mother's visits, she only spent a few minutes talking with Child, and then proceeded to talk with the Foster Mother about things. Child stated that he and Mother do not "have much to talk about." Id. at 31-32. Ms. Bailey stipulated that, although Child calls Mother "Mom, " she is unaware of any bond between Mother and Child. Id. 22-23.
Ms. Bailey also concluded that Father and Child are bonded, but not in the same way as father and son. Father's visits are irregular and inconsistent. Due to Father's inconsistent visits, Child has temper tantrums, nightmares, and acts out both at home and in school. Child's behavior ...