IN THE INTEREST OF: J.B., A MINOR APPEAL OF: J.E., MOTHER IN THE INTEREST OF: J.B., A MINOR APPEAL OF: C.B., FATHER
Appeal from the Order entered March 26, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Family Court, at No.: CP-51-AP-0002104-2012
BEFORE: DONOHUE, WECHT, and STRASSBURGER[*], JJ.
Appellants, J.E. ("Mother") and C.B. ("Father"), appeal from the orders entered on March 26, 2013 in an ongoing dependency case, finding that aggravated circumstances existed as to both Mother and Father. After careful review, we affirm in part and reverse in part.
The record reveals the following relevant facts and procedural history. The family first came to the attention of the Philadelphia Department of Human Service ("DHS") on November 14, 2012, when DHS received a Child Protective Services ("CPS") report that contained allegations of medical neglect of J.B. ("Child"), who was seven years old at the time. Trial Court Opinion ("T.C.O."), 6/18/2013, at 1. Child was diagnosed with Congenital Nephrotic Syndrome when she was six months old, and had undergone dialysis until she received a kidney transplant in August 2007 when she was three years old. After receiving the kidney transplant at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia ("CHOP"), Child was placed on numerous anti-rejection medications so that her body would not reject the transplant, and the family was informed about the medications and how they were to be administered. The family was told that the medications were to be given to Child approximately every twelve hours. Id. at 1.
For a few years after receiving the transplant, Child's health was stable. However, in November 2010, Child's kidney function began to fail, and Child resumed dialysis. On November 9, 2012, Child was hospitalized due to complications arising from high blood pressure. Id. at 1-2. DHS learned that Child is suffering from end-stage renal disease, and that, at the time of the hearing, she was required to have dialysis three times per week. CHOP physicians determined that Child needs a second kidney transplant, and that the rejection of her previously transplanted kidney is due to inconsistent administration of her medication. During DHS's investigation, Mother admitted that she sometimes did not give Child her medication every twelve hours, as prescribed. Id. at 2. Mother also admitted to Child's doctor and to the CHOP social worker that, on numerous occasions, she did not give Child her medication on time. In addition, Mother admitted to being overwhelmed with taking care of Child and Mother's other child. Id. The record shows that on November 19, 2012, Mother attempted suicide. Notes of Testimony ("N.T."), 3/26/2013, at 84. At the time of the hearing, Child's kidney function was less than ten percent. Child's current condition is life-threatening, and she needs another kidney transplant. T.C.O. at 2.
Evidence reveals that Mother had primary physical custody of Child and was Child's primary caregiver for most of Child's life. However, Father had partial physical custody of Child, and she stayed with Father at his home in Washington, D.C. every other month and during some holidays. T.C.O. at 2. Father was aware of Child's kidney condition and her medication needs, and was required to administer Child's medication when she visited him. The record shows that Father participated in a meeting at CHOP in September 2011, but had no further contact with CHOP after that meeting. Id. Thus, the trial court concluded that Father did not closely monitor Child's condition. Id. at 6.
On November 19, 2012, while Child was still hospitalized, DHS obtained an Order of Protective Custody ("OPC"). On November 27, 2012, DHS filed a dependency petition, alleging both that aggravated circumstances pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302 existed, and that Child had been a victim of aggravated physical neglect while in the care of Mother and Father. A dependency hearing was commenced on January 29, 2013, and continued on March 25, 2013, and March 26, 2013. During hearings, all parties agreed to an adjudication of dependency by the trial court based upon the present inability of Mother and Father to care for Child. On March 26, 2013, the trial court adjudicated Child dependent. The remaining issues at the hearing were whether aggravated circumstances and medical neglect existed. At the conclusion of the hearing on March 26, 2013, the trial court entered findings of child abuse and medical neglect against Mother and Father. The trial court also found clear and convincing evidence that aggravated circumstances were present as to both Mother and Father, and determined that DHS need not make reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family. Id. at 3. After a review of the evidence, the trial court found the testimony of the DHS social workers, Child's doctor at CHOP, the social worker at CHOP, the DHS nurse consultant, the agency social worker, and the paternal grandmother to be credible. Id. at 3 n.1.
On April 1, 2013, Mother timely filed a notice of appeal and a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i) and (b). In addition, on April 18, 2013, Father timely filed a notice of appeal and a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i) and (b).
Mother raises four issues for our review:
1. Should [Mother's] Appeal be quashed where [Mother] has filed a timely appeal, has filed a timely 1925(b) statement, has substantially complied with the Rules of Appellate Procedure, and no Order pursuant to Rule 1925(b) was issued in the matter?
2. Did the Trial Court err in making a finding of child abuse and medical neglect regarding [Mother]?
3. Did the Trial Court err in making a finding of aggravated circumstances regarding [Mother]?
4. Did the Trial Court err in finding no reasonable efforts concerning [Mother]?
Mother's Brief at vii.
On appeal, Father raises ...