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In the Interest of A.S.

January 9, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF A.S., MINOR CHILD, N.S., MOTHER, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda D. Belcher, District Associate Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tabor, J.

A mother appeals a juvenile court's order adjudicating her son to be a child in need of assistance. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.

A mother's use of methamphetamine and marijuana led to the adjudication of her fifteen-year-old son as a child in need of assistance (CINA). The juvenile court determined her substance abuse prevented her from properly supervising the teenager. On appeal, the mother claims she only used methamphetamine one time and contends the State failed to show her son is imminently likely to suffer harmful effects from the lack of supervision. After reviewing the record de novo, we agree with the juvenile court's determination that the State proved the grounds for the CINA adjudication by clear and convincing evidence.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

Nancy and her son A.S. came to the attention of the Department of

Human Services (DHS) in July 2012. A child protective service assessment addressed reports that Nancy was using methamphetamine. The summary alleged she had a history of methamphetamine use "and recently has been running out of money, has lost weight, has open sores on her body and stays up for days at a time." Although Nancy initially denied using methamphetamine, on July 27, 2012, her urine specimen tested positive for methamphetamine in a significant amount, as well as positive for marijuana. Nancy denied using methamphetamine until confronted with her drug test results, at which time she admitted trying the substance one week earlier and discovering it "wasn't for her." Nancy admitted using marijuana on the two Friday nights per month she went out. The DHS found the mother's conduct denied the teenager critical care, removed him from her home, and placed him with his adult sister.

Nancy provided urine specimens for analysis on August 24 and September 6, 2012. The drug tests were negative for any illegal substances. Nancy also completed a substance abuse evaluation on August 24, 2012. No treatment was recommended for Nancy based on the information she provided. But the report cautioned that if Nancy provided inaccurate information, a new substance abuse evaluation would be necessary.

The juvenile court held an adjudicatory hearing on September 7, 2012. Nancy testified she tried methamphetamine approximately one week before the drug test and did not like it. The forty-two year old claimed she consumed the drug because "[e]verybody else was doing it." Nancy testified she used methamphetamine just that one time and no longer used marijuana or alcohol. On cross-examination, Nancy admitted taking methamphetamine in 2001, which resulted in an earlier CINA adjudication for A.S.

A child protection worker rebutted Nancy's assertion that she tried the methamphetamine one week before the drug test. The worker relayed her understanding that methamphetamine metabolizes out of the body in approximately three days-leading to the conclusion the mother used methamphetamine less than a week before the drug screen. The worker also testified juvenile court supervision was necessary because A.S. had difficulty controlling his anger; police reports indicated he physically assaulted or abused his siblings, including a disabled brother. The worker believed the teenager's behaviors required monitoring by a sober parent.

On the same day as the hearing, the juvenile court filed its order adjudicating A.S. to be a CINA. The court found the mother had unresolved substance abuse issues and failed to provide "proper supervision" of A.S. given his "specific needs." The court ordered the child to remain in his sister's care under DHS supervision.

On October 3, 2012, the juvenile court held a dispositional hearing and determined the mother was complying with services. The court modified A.S.'s placement-returning him to his mother's home with DHS supervision. Nancy filed a notice of appeal from the orders issued September 7 and October 3, 2012.

II. Scope and Standard of Review

We review CINA proceedings de novo. In re K.N., 625 N.W.2d 731, 733 (Iowa 2001). In other words, we review both the juvenile court's findings of fact and conclusions of law, and adjudicate rights anew. Id. While we give weight to the court's fact findings, we are not ...


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