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In re E.H.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 5, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF E.H., Minor child, M.H., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child.

          AFFIRMED. Gina L. Kramer of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Kathryn A. Duccini of Duccini Law Offices, Dubuque, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her child, born in 2013. She does not challenge the grounds for termination. She contends (1) the juvenile court should have granted her an extension of time to work towards reunification and (2) termination was not in the child's best interests.

         I. Extension of Time

         A court may decline to terminate parental rights and may continue a placement for an additional six months in the expectation that the need for the child's removal will no longer exist at the end of the extension period. See Iowa Code §§ 232.104(2)(b), 232.117(5) (2016). The juvenile court refused to grant the mother's request for this relief. On our de novo review, we agree with the court's decision.

         The department of human services became involved with the family in March 2016, after the child tested positive for methamphetamine and cocaine. The department initiated safety services. The mother briefly participated in those services but declined to undergo drug testing.

         In time, the mother was arrested and jailed on various charges. The child, who had lived with his great-grandparents since birth, remained in their home.

         The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance petition. The juvenile court entered an adjudicatory order placing custody of the child with the department for continued relative placement. The court afforded the mother visits with the child in the department's discretion.

         The mother was released from jail at the end of May 2016. In the ensuing two months, she tested negative for drugs, attended group and individual therapy sessions, obtained employment, and participated in visits, which were supervised by a service provider or by the great-grandparents. In light of her progress, the department recommended a ...


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