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In re Z.H.

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 5, 2013

IN THE INTEREST OF Z.H. and B.H., Minor Children, R.H., Father, Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Joe E. Smith, Judge.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his children.

Karmen R. Anderson of Bandstra Law Firm, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kathrine S. Miller-Todd, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Kevin Brownell, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Michelle Saveraid of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor children.

Stephie Tran, Des Moines, for mother.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

A father appeals the termination of his parental rights. He contends the State failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family. Specifically, he argues the State failed to provide him with sufficient, timely mental health services. Because the father failed to make a timely request for additional services, error is not preserved and we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS.

Z.H. and B.H. came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) in 2011 due, in part, to safety concerns stemming from the father's anger management issues. The father admits he "intentionally hit" the mother while she was holding one of the children—then a baby—in her arms. There were also concerns about the parents' mental health and substance abuse. The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition in July 2011 and the children were adjudicated to be CINA in November 2011.

The father was offered a myriad of services during the course of the CINA proceedings. He began receiving family safety, risk and permanency services in August 2011. He completed a substance abuse evaluation and attended outpatient substance abuse treatment.[1]

The father was provided a psychosocial evaluation, which took place at various appointments between October 2011 and January 2012. The record shows the father attended four appointments, and cancelled or failed to show for three appointments. The psychosocial assessment notes the missed appointments may lead to incomplete information. Among other services, the assessment recommended the father attend individual therapy, couples therapy, and parenting classes. The father also completed an attachment assessment, which recommended he attend parenting classes, anger management, and dyadic therapy.

The father failed to follow through on recommendations for mental health services. The record shows the DHS worker repeatedly asked whether he had set up counseling appointments and reminded him of the importance of doing so. In the May 2012, the father replied that "his mental health issues were due to his drug use, and that this had been addressed through treatment." The father also claimed he could not afford to attend counseling because his insurance did not cover it, although the record shows the father gambled and paid approximately $100 per week on a limousine purchase. At the termination hearing, the father testified he decided not to spend his money on individual therapy ...


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