IN THE INTEREST OF: K.S., a Minor APPEAL OF: A.L.W.
from the Order dated August 12, 2016 in the Court of Common
Pleas of Northumberland County, Juvenile Division, No(s):
BEFORE: PANELLA, OTT and MUSMANNO, JJ.
("Mother") appeals from the Order of Adjudication
and Disposition - Child Dependent ("Dependency
Order") relating to her minor son, K.S.
("Child"), born in April 2001, pursuant to 42
Pa.C.S.A. § 6302. We vacate the Dependency Order, and
remand for a new adjudicatory hearing.
County Children and Youth Services ("the Agency")
first became involved with the family in 2009. Since that
time, the Agency received eight additional referrals, raising
concerns about housing, lack of supervision of Child, and
parents' drug and alcohol abuse.
October 2015, Child began living with his step-grandfather
("Custodian"), who was granted custody of Child in
December 2015. In July 2016, Custodian indicated to the
Agency that, as a result of a physical confrontation between
them, Child could no longer live with him. Child thereafter
resided with his maternal great-grandmother, who subsequently
indicated that Child could no longer live with her, due to
housing issues and Child's behavior. Child also stayed
with a friend's family before being temporarily placed
with his paternal great-aunt.
August 9, 2016, the Agency filed a shelter care Application,
and requested the temporary placement of Child in
Agency's custody. The trial court entered an Order the
same day, granting the Agency's request for temporary
placement and scheduling a shelter care hearing. The trial
court conducted a shelter care hearing on August 12,
time of the hearing, Child's father ("Father")
was serving a sentence in a state correctional institution.
However, Father waived his right to counsel, and participated
in the hearing via telephone.
Mother was serving time in Snyder County Prison as a
Northumberland County prisoner, following her arrest for
various drug charges (including, inter alia,
manufacturing methamphetamine in her home). Mother did not
attend the shelter care hearing, either in person or via
telephone. Mother's interests were represented by
Marc Lieberman, Esquire ("Attorney Lieberman"), in
his capacity as Northumberland County dependency court
the shelter care hearing, Attorney Lieberman requested a
continuance, due to Snyder County Prison's refusal to
allow Mother to participate in the hearing, and because
Attorney Lieberman did not have time to file a motion for a
transport order. The Agency opposed the request, because,
"as [Mother] is incarcerated and [Father] is
incarcerated[, ] neither would be an option today."
N.T., 8/12/16, at 5. The trial court denied Attorney
Lieberman's request for a continuance.
Bowman ("Bowman"), an Agency caseworker, testified
regarding the family's history with the Agency. The
Agency thereafter asked the trial court to proceed with the
adjudicatory hearing. Attorney Lieberman objected to proceeding
with the adjudicatory hearing, as Mother was not available to
participate in the proceedings. The trial court overruled
Attorney Lieberman's objection, and granted the
Agency's request to adjudicate Child dependent.
subsequently provided recommendations for Child's
permanency plan. The trial court adopted the Agency's
report and recommendations at the conclusion of the hearing.
The same day, the trial court issued a Shelter Care Order,
granting physical and legal custody of child to the Agency,
as well as the Dependency Order.
filed a timely Notice of Appeal and a Concise Statement of
errors complained of on appeal, pursuant to Pa.R.A.P.
1925(a)(2)(i). The trial court subsequently ordered Mother to
file a Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) concise statement. Mother filed a
second Concise Statement on September 29, 2016.
On appeal, Mother raises the following questions for our
I. Whether the trial court erred in  denying Mother[']s
right to participat[e] in the adjudication hearing and
suspending  Mother's parental rights[, ] without 
Mother being permitted due process of law?
II. Whether the trial court erred in determining that the
best interests of [C]hild would be served by denying Mother
minimal due process?
Mother's Brief at 10.
We apply the following standard of review in dependency