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[U] In re C.T.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 10, 2014

IN THE INTEREST OF: C.T., A MINOR, ADJUDICATED DEPENDENT
v.
APPEAL OF: S.S., NATURAL MOTHER, Appellant

NON-PRECEDENTIAL DECISION

Appeal from the Order, July 1, 2013, in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County Civil Division at No. 11 OF 2012

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., OTT AND WECHT, JJ.

MEMORANDUM

FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E.

S.S. ("Mother"), the mother of the subject dependent child, C.T. ("Child") born in March of 2003, appeals the permanency review order dated July 1, 2013, and entered on July 3, 2013, changing the permanency placement goal for Child to Permanent Legal Custody ("PLC"), [1] pursuant to Section 6351(f.1)(3) of the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6351(f.1)(3). In the order, the trial court further directed that legal and physical custody would remain with the Erie County Children and Youth Services Agency ("OCY"), and placement of Child would remain in foster care (kinship) with A.S., his maternal uncle ("Maternal Uncle"). We affirm and grant the motion to withdraw as counsel, pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967).

The record in this matter reflects the following. Based on an allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior of Child toward his sister, on February 9, 2012, OCY filed a motion for emergency protective custody. On February 10, 2012, OCY filed a dependency petition with regard to Child. On February 10, 2012, the juvenile hearing master held a shelter care hearing.

The testimony at the shelter care hearing established that Child came into care because he engaged in sexual acts with his then four-year-old sister, by having her perform oral sex on him. (Notes of testimony, 2/10/12 at 6-7, 10.) Mother was unable to deal with the issues in a constructive fashion, denying OCY access to her home, and stating that it was "none of [OCY's] business." (Id. at 7.) After Mother learned about the sexual activity, she struck Child and screamed obscenities at him, and demanded OCY take Child, because she did not want him. (Id. at 11-12.) Further, the master found it significant that Mother was aware that her family had an open case with OCY on an informal basis for lack of supervision, yet did not notify OCY of the allegations against Child, and initially refused to receive any assistance with the problem. (Master's recommendation for shelter care, 2/13/12; Master's amended recommendation for adjudication and disposition, 6/8/12.) (See notes of testimony, 2/10/12 at 9.) On February 13, 2012, a juvenile hearing master recommended shelter care for Child. The trial court entered a shelter care order on that same date.

On February 16, 2012, the juvenile hearing master held a dependency hearing and, on that same date, entered an order adjudicating Child dependent pursuant to Section 6302(1) of the Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 6302(1).

The trial court held a dispositional hearing on March 7, 2012. On March 13, 2012, the trial court entered a dispositional order, dated March 12, 2012, placing Child in foster care (kinship) with Maternal Uncle, and setting his permanency placement goal as return to parent or guardian, with a projected date for achieving the goal in six months. On April 11, 2012, OCY filed a petition for a permanency hearing.

On April 20, 2012, Mother filed a motion for amendment and/or correction of record, asserting that Mother had withdrawn her stipulation to a finding of dependency. On April 26, 2012, the trial court entered an order, dated April 23, 2012, directing the master to issue an amended or corrected recommendation.

On May 23, 2012, the trial court entered OCY's court summary for the hearing, and its court summary addendum. On that same date, the trial court held the first permanency review hearing. On May 24, 2012, the trial court entered an order, dated May 23, 2012, providing that, although Mother had withdrawn her stipulation to the finding of dependency, the record supported the finding and adjudication of dependency. Accordingly, in the May 23, 2012 order, the trial court affirmed the master's finding that Child was dependent.

Further, on June 5, 2012, the trial court entered an order, dated June 4, 2012, directing that legal and physical custody of Child remained with OCY, and Child would remain in foster care (kinship), with a permanency goal of return to parent or guardian, and a completion date for the goal of within sixty days. Additionally, the trial court signed the master's amended recommendation on June 7, 2012, finding Child dependent based on the testimony and other evidence from the shelter care hearing without Mother's stipulation to the dependency. On June 8, 2012, the trial court entered the signed order of adjudication and disposition.

Between June 11, 2012 and January 9, 2013, four permanency review hearings were held. Throughout, this time the trial court maintained Child's permanent placement goal to return to parent or guardian with a concurrent placement goal of PLC. In two separate orders entered on August 8, 2012, the trial court appointed Ann Townsend and Barbara Mitchell as Court Appointed Special Advocates ("CASA") for Child.

On May 2, 2013, OCY filed a motion to change Child's permanency placement goal to PLC, alleging that Child had been in placement for approximately fifteen months, and that a change in goal to PLC would be in his best interests. On May 3, 2012, the trial court ...


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