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In re B.C.-W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 20, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF B.C.-W., Minor Child, K.W., Father, Appellant, S.W., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Rose Anne Mefford, District Associate Judge.

         The mother and father appeal separately the termination of their parental rights. AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.

          Bret R. Larson of Orsborn, Milani, Mitchell & Goedken, L.L.P., Ottumwa, for appellant father.

          Cynthia D. Hucks of Box & Box, Ottumwa, for appellant mother.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Misty D. White-Reinier of White-Reinier Law Office, Sigourney, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and McDonald, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         A father and mother appeal separately the termination of their parental rights to their child, B.C.-W., born in February 2013. Both parents' rights were terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017). The mother argues there is not clear and convincing evidence to support the statutory grounds for termination and termination is not in B.C.-W.'s best interests. The father argues service of process for the termination petition with notice of hearing date was improper, there is not clear and convincing evidence to support the statutory grounds for termination, reasonable efforts towards reunification were not made, and the court erred in denying the father's requested continuance for the hearing on permanency and termination.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         This family has previously been involved with the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and the juvenile court. In July 2014, B.C.-W. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) and removed from the home due to both parents' abuse of methamphetamine. The parents completed substance-abuse treatment, and B.C.-W. was returned to their care in November 2014.

         In March 2016, DHS again became involved after local law enforcement indicated possible drug use in the home. The parents attempted to evade DHS for more than two weeks. B.C.-W. was removed from the home in April 2016 due to both parents' use of methamphetamine.

         Both parents have successfully completed substance-abuse treatment and have remained sober throughout these proceedings. Both parents have also participated in reunification services, including: DHS case management; family safety, risk, and permanency (FSRP) services; parent partner; family team meetings; substance-abuse evaluation and treatment; psychological evaluations; couples counseling; play therapy for B.C.-W.; Wapello Family Treatment Court; parent child interaction therapy (PCIT); strengthening families; parents as teachers; and families and children together.

         However, even though the parents have participated in services and remained sober, serious concerns remained at the time of the termination hearing. While the parents have participated in PCIT since April 2017, neither parent had mastered the introductory level. According to FSRP workers, the parents have not demonstrated progress since May 2017 and are still unable to parent the child adequately after participation in services since April 2016. The parents' attitude toward ...


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