IN THE INTEREST OF S.F. and T.F., Minor Children, N.F., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Louise M.
Jacobs, District Associate Judge.
father appeals the juvenile court order removing his children
Jessica Maffitt of Benzoni Law Office, P.L.C., Des Moines,
for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
L. White of Juvenile Public Defender Office, Des Moines,
guardian ad litem for minor children.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
juvenile court decided six-year-old S.F. and three-year-old
T.F. could not remain in the family home because their
parents were failing to meet their nutritional, emotional,
and medical needs and were not providing a safe and stable
environment. Their father, Nicholas, appeals the removal on
three grounds. First, he claims the juvenile court violated
his right to due process by refusing to postpone the removal
hearing so he could investigate claims made in a recently
disclosed letter from S.F.'s pediatrician. Second, he
claims removal was not the least restrictive disposition.
Third, he asserts removal was not in the children's best
interests. After reviewing the record,  we conclude
Nicholas did not preserve error on his constitutional claim.
On the substance of the removal, we reach the same conclusion
as the juvenile court-placing the children outside the home
is necessary to protect them from harm and serves their best
Facts and Prior Proceedings
medical needs lie at the heart of this case. She suffers from
Trisomy 13, a chromosomal disorder associated with severe
intellectual and physical disabilities; she requires both a
feeding tube and a breathing tube. In February 2016, the
court found the parents, Nicholas and Jazmine, were
neglecting her medical care. The court also found the parents
were not tending to the hygiene and feeding of T.F., her
younger brother. The court adjudicated both S.F. and T.F. as
children in need of assistance (CINA). T.F. remained with his
parents, but upon the recommendation of the Iowa Department
of Human Services (DHS), the court removed S.F. from the
family home for eleven months.
February 2017, the parents had made sufficient progress to
address S.F.'s special needs at home-with the help of a
visiting nurse service. But within a few months of her return
to the home, the DHS had renewed concerns about the
children's care. The case worker informed the court the
parents were not properly feeding S.F. and were not attending
her many appointments, including physical, occupational, and
speech therapy. According to the DHS, the parents also were
struggling with supervising both S.F. and T.F., as well as a
new infant sibling. In the fall, Jazmine moved out, leaving
all three children with Nicholas. On August 21, 2017, the
court scheduled a removal hearing for October 16.
before the removal hearing, the DHS received a letter from
S.F.'s pediatrician outlining concerns about S.F.'s
care at home. The letter alleged the girl's nurse was
taking her to medical appointments instead of Nicholas and
Nicholas was not changing S.F.'s diaper for up to twelve
hours. The letter also repeated the nursing agency's
concern that Nicholas was not properly feeding S.F. The
letter also raised safety concerns, stating when the nurse
arrived in the mornings Nicholas was not awake but the door
juvenile court ordered S.F. and T.F removed from the home and
set a review hearing for February 2018. Nicholas then brought
II. Analysis of ...