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In re L.K.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF L.K., Minor Child, S.S., Mother, Appellant, K.K., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Rachael E. Seymour, District Associate Judge.

         A mother and father appeal orders transferring their child from relatives to non-relative foster care. The mother also appeals the court's denial of a motion to intervene filed by the relatives.

          Seth J. Harrington of Harrington Law L.C., Clive, for appellant mother.

          Nicholas J. Einwalter, Des Moines, for appellant father.

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

          Kimberly S. Ayotte of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.

         A mother and father appeal juvenile court orders transferring their child from relatives to non-relative foster care. The mother also appeals the court's denial of the relatives' motion to intervene in the child-in-need-of-assistance proceedings.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         A child, born in November 2016, tested positive for methamphetamine and morphine. The child's mother admitted to using both drugs during her pregnancy. The father, who was on probation for a drug crime, tested positive for methamphetamine.

         The parents signed a safety plan proffered by the department of human services (DHS). They agreed the child would be discharged to her paternal aunt and uncle. They further agreed their contact with the child would be "supervised by [the relatives] or another approved family member." Under the heading, "How plan is monitored, " the document stated the relatives would "communicate with DHS about cooperation with safety plan and any concerns." The parents consented to-and the juvenile court ordered-the temporary removal of the child from their custody.

         An adjudication hearing scheduled for a Wednesday was postponed for six days. The postponement order stated, "Before the next hearing the following shall be completed: . . . Current custodians and adults residing in the home shall provide a drug screen today." The order was not served on the current custodians and relatives in the home.

         At the rescheduled adjudication hearing, the State requested "placement continue provided that a clean drug screen is provided." The State informed the court that the relatives underwent urine tests the night before but the results were not back. Without holding an evidentiary hearing, the juvenile court deemed the relatives' failure to obtain drug screens the previous Wednesday to be "missed drug screens" and, therefore, "positive drug screens." Based on this premise, the court stated, "[W]e need to figure out a different placement." The court questioned the attorneys about the extent of visitation that had occurred between the parents and child and, in light of discrepancies in their statements, found the relatives had been "dishonest with the department of human services regarding the parents' contact with ...


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