IN THE INTEREST OF A.F., Minor Child, D.F., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Barbara H.
Liesveld, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals from a permanency order. AFFIRMED.
Natalie Hope Cronk of Cronk & Waterman, P.L.C., Iowa
City, for appellant mother.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick and Ana
Dixit, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee State.
Kimberly Ann Opatz of Linn County Advocate, Cedar Rapids,
guardian ad litem for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
case arises out of a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding.
Deloris, the mother, appeals from the juvenile court's
amended permanency order as to her child, A.F. (born
2013). The amended permanency order provided
custody of A.F. would be returned to Deloris under the
protective supervision of the Iowa Department of Human
Services ("IDHS"). The order further provided for
concurrent jurisdiction to allow A.F.'s father, Paul, to
proceed in the district court regarding issues of custody,
visitation, and child support. Finally, the amended
permanency order granted IDHS discretion to implement an
appropriate interaction plan for A.F. and his parents. On
appeal, Deloris contends the juvenile court (1) erred in
denying her motion to dismiss the child-in-need-of-assistance
proceeding, (2) erred in returning custodial rights to her
but modifying the parents' pre-existing physical care
arrangement, and (3) unconstitutionally delegated its
authority to determine custody and visitation to IDHS.
review in child-in-need-of-assistance proceedings is de novo.
See In re D.D., 653 N.W.2d 359, 361 (Iowa 2002). We
examine both the facts and the law, and we adjudicate anew
issues properly preserved and presented for appellate review.
See In re L.G., 532 N.W.2d 478, 480 (Iowa Ct. App.
first claim is the juvenile court should have dismissed the
assistance proceeding because she no longer posed any risk of
harm to A.F. The record reflects the child was removed from
Deloris's care in March 2016 due to concerns regarding
Deloris's inability to provide adequate supervision and
care for the child and due to concerns regarding
Deloris's use of controlled substances, including
marijuana and methamphetamine. A.F. was placed with Paul,
who, up to that point in time, had largely been uninvolved in
A.F.'s life. Deloris made significant progress throughout
the life of the case. She began treatment for her
mental-health conditions and ceased using controlled
substances. Her interactions with A.F. improved, and her
contact with A.F. increased over time. By the time of the
permanency review hearing, the attorney for the State
reported, with respect to A.F., "Deloris has done
everything that she's been required to do."
Deloris made significant progress in addressing the concerns
giving rise to removal, the juvenile court was not required
to dismiss the assistance proceeding. Instead, the decision
to dismiss or close an assistance proceeding is within the
broad discretion of the juvenile court. See In re
E.H., No. 02-0764, 2003 WL 289596, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App.
Feb. 12, 2003). A juvenile court may terminate a
dispositional order if the court determines "[t]he
purposes of the order have been accomplished and the child is
no longer in need of supervision, care, or treatment" or
"[t]he purposes of the order have been sufficiently
accomplished and the continuation of supervision, care, or
treatment is unjustified or unwarranted." Iowa Code
§ 232.103(4)(a), (d) (2016).
the circumstances, we cannot conclude the district court
abused its broad discretion in declining to dismiss this
assistance proceeding. The trial home placement of A.F. with
Deloris was relatively new. The juvenile court had not
inappropriate concern regarding Deloris's ability to
maintain the positive changes. The juvenile court had not
inappropriate concern regarding the child's ongoing
adjustment to the new parenting arrangement. The juvenile
court indicated that it would consider closing the case in
due course but that it wanted to exercise caution at the time
of the hearing. This was a prudent course of action under the
circumstances. We find no abuse of discretion.
next challenges the juvenile court's decision to continue
the de facto shared-care arrangement. She contends the
juvenile court was required to restore the status quo
ante-that is, the juvenile court was required to grant her
primary physical care of the child, which was the care
arrangement prior to the initiation of this assistance
proceeding. We disagree. The juvenile court has broad power
to act in the best interest of the child, including the power
over custody, care, and visitation with the child.
See Iowa Code § 232.104(5) ("Any
permanency order may provide restrictions upon the contact
between the child and the child's parent or parents,
consistent with the best interest of the child.");
In re K.R., 537 N.W.2d 774, 777 (Iowa 1995)
(providing the juvenile court has exclusive jurisdiction over
custody, guardianship, care, and visitation during a pending
assistance proceeding); In re T.M., No. 11-0307,
2011 WL 1584586, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 27, 2011)
(affirming permanency order granting IDHS the discretion to
manage contact between the child and parents). Here the
juvenile court took a cautious step toward reunification,
which was reasonable under the circumstances.
Deloris asserts a constitutional challenge to the amended
permanency order. She contends affording IDHS discretion to
implement an interaction plan is an unconstitutional
delegation of judicial power to the executive branch. Deloris
is correct in asserting that it is exclusively the province
of the court to determine custody, care, and visitation
arrangements. See In re Marriage of Stephens, 810
N.W.2d 523, 530-31 (Iowa Ct. App. 2012) ("The
legislature has granted to the court the responsibility to
make an impartial and independent determination as to what is
in the best interests of the child . . . ."). A court
may not delegate this power to a third party. See
id.; In re S.P., No. 16-1919, 2017 WL 108798,
at *5 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2017) ("The juvenile court
may not delegate its judicial function to any third party . .
. ."). Here, however, there was no delegation of power.
The juvenile court made the custody and care determination
and afforded the agency discretion to implement the
court's decision in the best interest of the child. This
was a permissible exercise of the juvenile court's
authority. See, e.g., T.M., 2011 WL 1584586, at *1
(affirming disposition order "giving DHS discretion to