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[U] In re E.N.M.
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
October 25, 2013
IN RE: E.N.M., III, A MINOR APPEAL OF: E.M., JR., FATHER, Appellant IN RE: P.E.M., A MINOR APPEAL OF: E.M., JR., FATHER, Appellant IN RE: E.N.M., III, A MINOR APPEAL OF: T.C.B., MOTHER IN RE: P.E.M., A MINOR APPEAL OF: T.C.B., MOTHER, Appellant
Appeal from the Decree February 6, 2013 In the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Orphans' Court at No(s): 436 of 2012, 438 of 2012, 438 of 2012.
BEFORE: PANELLA, J., MUNDY, J., and MUSMANNO, J.
Appellants, T.C.B. (Mother) and E.M., Jr. (Father), appeal from the February 6, 2013 decree involuntarily terminating their parental rights to their biological son, E.N.M., III, and their biological daughter, P.E.M, (Children). After careful review, we affirm.
The orphans' court summarized the relevant facts and procedural history of this case as follows.
The [termination] [p]etition was filed on February 22, 2012, [by the Lancaster County Children and Youth Social Services Agency (CYA)] and notice, in accordance with the Adoption Act, was provided to the parents. The petition was served personally on March 14, 2012. Full termination hearings were held on August 28, 2012, and November 20, 2012.
[E.N.M., III] is a minor child born [in September 2007] in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. [P.E.M.] is a minor child born [in March 2009] in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
[Mother] participated in the hearings via video conference as she was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Muncy. Mother was represented by counsel.
[Father] participated in the hearings via video conference as he was incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution Camp Hill. Father was represented by counsel.
This family first became known to [CYA] in 2008. The first referral was received December 22, 2008. The Lancaster City Police reported concerns after E.N.M, III, fell down a flight of stairs while in his stroller. While at the hospital, Mother seemed unconcerned and inattentive to E.N.M, III. Her answers to police questions were vague[, ] and it remained unclear if E.N.M., III, was knocked unconscious from the fall. The family was accepted for services, a voluntary [f]amily [s]ervice [p]lan (hereinafter "FSP") was put in place[, ] and the case was later closed.
The most recent referral was received April 29, 2010 when the police found both of the Children wandering the street around 4:00 a.m. When the police located Mother, her breath smelled of alcohol[, ] [and] she admitted that she had been drinking. Mother stated she had left the Children with a friend for approximately ninety minutes. When the police saw the home[, ] they found beer cans, apparent drug paraphernalia, and condoms on the floor. Mother refused to cooperate with the police and was arrested. The Lancaster City Police took protective custody of the Children[, ] and Mother was charged with child endangerment.
The following day, Mother was released on bail[, ] and another FSP was put in place. The Children were placed in the care of their paternal grandmother[, ] and Mother was not allowed to be alone with them. Mother was not in agreement with ongoing services and made minimal progress on her FSP. CYA had difficulty maintaining contact with Mother[, ] and she refused to sign releases for CYA to collect information from service providers.
On January 27, 2011, the Lancaster City Police were again called to Mother's home. Mother made arrangements to borrow a friend's car while he watched the Children. The friend contacted the police when Mother failed to return. He reported that Mother had stolen his car. The Children told police that Mother had left to obtain beer. The police reported that there was no heat in the home[, ] and it did not appear to have the appropriate necessities for the Children. The police again took protective custody of the Children. CYA was informed by police that Mother had a bench warrant for her arrest on a driving under the influence charge. CYA also determined the friend Mother had entrusted her Children to was not an appropriate caregiver under the FSP as he had recently been released from prison on assault charges.
Prior to taking custody of the Children, CYA offered Mother services through the Lancaster County Assistance Office, the Social Security Disability Office, the Lancaster County Council of Churches, Women-Infant-Children program, and the Lancaster Freedom Center. Mother was offered family group conferencing[, ] but she refused to participate.
Father had been incarcerated since October 30, 2008 and was not available to care for the Children. A shelter care hearing was held February 1, 2011. The adjudication/disposition hearing was held on March 1, 2011[, ] and a [c]hild [p]ermanency [p]lan (hereinafter "CPP") with a goal of reunification with the parents was approved.
Review hearing[s] were held on June 15, 2011; March 27, 2012; August 25, 2012; and January 29, 2013. Both parents were given a CPP with goals they needed to achieve in order to be reunited with their Children. The goals for Mother were: improved mental health, remain free from drugs and misuse of alcohol, remain crime free, to learn and use good parenting skills, to be financially stable, to maintain a home free and clear of hazards, and to maintain an ongoing commitment to her Children.
Mother completed an evaluation with T. W. Ponessa on May 18, 2010 but was later discharged from their program due to noncompliance. She had another intake with T.W. Ponessa on January 11, 2011. She was referred for a parenting capacity assessment with Dr. Gransee on April 11, 2011, but never completed the assessment due to her incarceration on April 11, 2011. Since being incarcerated[, ] she has not made any progress on her mental health goal.
Mother completed an evaluation at Lancaster Freedom Center in order to work towards her goal to remain drug free and from the misuse of alcohol. Intensive outpatient therapy was recommended[, ] but Mother seemed resistant to treatment. Mother was referred to the Family Alternatives Program on March 10, 2011. However, due to her incarceration she was unable to follow through with any of the recommendations. She has not made any progress on this goal since her incarceration. As far as remaining crime free, Mother is currently incarcerated serving a one to two year sentence for child endangerment and retail theft. She has completed a [v]iolence [p]revention [p]rogram while ...