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[U] In re T.A.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 19, 2014



Appeal from the Adjudication of Delinquency August 6, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Family Court at No.: CP-51-DP-0001517-2013

BEFORE: SHOGAN, J., OTT, J., and PLATT, J. [*]



Mother, G.A., appeals from the order adjudicating her son, T.A. (Child), born on July 17, 1998, dependent and committing him to the custody of his adult brother under the supervision of the City of Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS). We affirm.

This family first came to the attention of DHS on July 13, 2013, by means of a General Protective Services report (GPS). According to that report, Child left home and went to live with relatives after Mother angrily punched him in the arm and slapped his face when he refused her request for money. When a DHS caseworker visited Mother's home on July 13, 2013, to investigate the incident, Mother denied hitting Child and insisted that the argument was about Child doing his chores, not about money.

On July 15, 2013, DHS learned that Child had been staying with his father and his father's paramour, A.D., since leaving Mother's home. A.D. told DHS that Child needed new school uniforms for the upcoming school year, and that Mother refused to provide him with his clothes that were still at Mother's house. A.D. also said that Child's father pays support to Mother for Child, but Mother does not spend the money for Child's benefit. At the same time, Child told DHS that Mother hit him and evicted him from her home, and that this incident was not the first time Mother had demanded money from him, and not the first time that the two of them had fought over money. Child told DHS that he was afraid of Mother and did not want to go back to her home.

DHS also spoke with Mother on July 15, 2013. Mother said that Child had trouble controlling his anger and that the argument was about chores, not money. Mother called the DHS caseworker repeatedly the following day to tell her version of the incident. DHS's investigation revealed that Mother had a history of mental health problems.

DHS obtained an order of protective custody (OPC) on July 17, 2013. The trial court held a shelter care hearing on July 19, 2013, at which time it lifted the OPC and ordered Child temporarily committed to DHS. The trial court also ordered Mother to turn over the remainder of Child's clothes to DHS.

At an August 6, 2013 adjudicatory hearing, the trial court heard testimony from DHS social worker, Carl Tyndle. Mr. Tyndle testified that DHS received a report on July 12, 2013, that "[Child] was involved in a physical altercation with [Mother]." (N.T. Hearing, 8/06/13, at 3-4). He testified that Child told him that he and Mother got into an argument when Mother asked him for money. When he refused, Mother "hit [Child] four or five times and threw him out of the residence." (Id. at 5). Mr. Tyndle also testified that [Child] is "fearful" of Mother and is not comfortable returning to Mother's home. (Id. at 5-6). Mother told Mr. Tyndle that the argument was merely about chores and that Mother "doesn't recall" an argument about money or throwing Child out of the house. (Id. at 6).

According to Mr. Tyndle, Child was living with his adult brother, A.C., (Brother), and Brother was willing to allow him to remain in his home. (Id. at 5, 6). DHS has completed clearances on Brother and his fiancée, and determined that Child will have his own bed and his own space while living with them. (Id. at 8). Mr. Tyndle and the Child Advocate agreed that Child has everything he needs at Brother's house and that Child's placement with Brother best suits Child's current needs. (Id. at 6, 15). Child is excelling in school. (Id. at 11-12).

Mr. Tyndle testified that DHS recommended that the trial court refer Mother to Behavioral Health Services (BHS) because Mother was receiving treatment as of June of 2013, and DHS was not sure that Mother was current with her treatment. (Id. at 7, 9).

The trial court adjudicated Child dependent at the hearing on August 6, 2013, committed him to DHS, and ordered him to reside with Brother. The trial court ordered DHS to refer the case to Family Stabilization Services to ensure that Child keeps his scheduled dentist appointment and to refer Mother to BHS for an evaluation. A Family Service Plan (FSP) meeting was to be held within thirty days, and Mother was to comply with all FSP objectives and recommendations. DHS was to implement family therapy when appropriate. The trial entered its order adjudicating Child dependent and committing him to DHS on August 6, 2013. Mother filed her notice of appeal and statement of errors complained of on appeal on August 27, 2013. See Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)(2)(i).[1]

Mother presents the following questions for our review:

1. Whether the [e]vidence was sufficient to sustain an [a]djudication ...

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