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In re G.D.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF G.D. and A.D., Minor Children, K.L., Custodian/Intervenor, Appellant, VICKI R. DANLEY, Guardian ad litem, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Page County, Amy L. Zacharias, District Associate Judge.

         The guardian ad litem and the custodian appeal from the juvenile court's dispositional order, in which the court refused to waive the State's obligation to provide reasonable efforts to reunify the family. AFFIRMED.

          Scott D. Strait, Council Bluffs, for custodian/intervenor.

          Vicki R. Danley, Sidney, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          William C. Bracker of Law Office of Bill Bracker, Council Bluffs, for mother.

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

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         The guardian ad litem (GAL) and the custodian[1] of G.D. and A.D. appeal from the juvenile court's dispositional order, in which the court denied the GAL's motion to waive the State's obligation to make reasonable efforts to reunify the children with their parents. The GAL maintains there was substantial evidence of aggravated circumstances, pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.102(14)(b) and (c) (2017), [2] allowing the court to waive reasonable efforts for reunification. Additionally, if reasonable efforts are not to be waived, the GAL argues the department should not be required to allow visits between the children and the parents as parts of its reasonable-efforts mandate in this case.[3]

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         This is not this family's first involvement with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS). A case was opened and services were provided in both 2014 and 2015; in both instances, the case was voluntarily dismissed by DHS. The present involvement began in July 2016, after both parents were observed to have fresh track marks on their arms and arrested. The father admitted to the arresting officer that both he and the mother had been using methamphetamine intravenously with the children present. At the time, G.D. was six years old and A.D. was three years old. While the mother continues to maintain she did not use methamphetamine on that date, it is undisputed she allowed the father, who was high and hallucinating he was being chased, to take the children with him when he left in the family's vehicle. The mother did nothing to stop the father, and she did not summon help. Both parents were cited for felony child neglect.

         As a result of the incident, the children were removed from the care of their parents and the State filed a petition alleging the children were children in need of assistance (CINA). Following an adjudicatory hearing, on October 12, 2016, the juvenile court found insufficient evidence to support the grounds for adjudication; the court ordered the CINA petition to be dismissed and the children to be returned to the care of their parents. However, there was a criminal no-contact order in place preventing the parents from having contact with the children, so the children's paternal grandmother took custody of the children through a guardianship.

         The GAL appealed the dismissal of the CINA petition, and a panel of our court found sufficient evidence for both children to be adjudicated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(c)(2) and (n) (2016). See In re G.D., No. 16-1895, 2017 WL 512796, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Feb. 8, 2017).

         After procedendo issued, the juvenile court scheduled a dispositional hearing. The paternal grandmother, who was still the guardian of the children, filed a motion to intervene, and the juvenile court granted it. Additionally, the GAL filed a motion asking the court to waive reasonable efforts to reunify the children with their parents.

         The dispositional hearing took place on April 21, 2017. The mother testified at the hearing, admitting she has struggled with the use of illegal drugs throughout much of her life and has previously had her parental rights terminated to other children. Testimony from the children's counselors and the social worker included statements of concern that the children had been ...


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