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In re E.G.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 24, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF E.G., Minor Child, M.B., Mother, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Charles D. Fagan, District Associate Judge.

         The mother appeals from the modification of a dispositional order transferring placement of her child to an out-of-state relative. AFFIRMED.

          Amanda J. Heims, Council Bluffs, for appellant mother.

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

          Roberta J. Megel of the State Public Defender Office, Council Bluffs, guardian ad litem for minor child.

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

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         The mother appeals from the modification of a dispositional order transferring placement of her child, E.G., to an out-of-state relative.[1] The mother claims the juvenile court erred in several respects; she maintains (1) the court did not have the authority to order the change in placement at the hearing, (2) there was a lack of notice regarding the possible change, (3) there was not a substantial change in circumstances warranting a change in E.G.'s placement, and (4) the change in placement is not in E.G.'s best interests because it is hindering the reunification of the mother and E.G.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) became involved with this family in May 2017, upon allegations the mother was using methamphetamine while caring for E.G. (who was then ten years old). E.G. was immediately removed from the mother's care pursuant to an emergency removal order, with a removal hearing taking place a few days later.

         At the hearing, through counsel, the mother requested that E.G. be placed with her maternal grandparents if she was not immediately returned to the mother's care. The court noted that the grandparents lived in Nebraska and thus were not a placement option without the completion of a home study. E.G. was placed in the care of her adult sister subject to DHS supervision. The sister lives in a small Iowa town approximately fifteen miles from Council Bluffs, where the mother resides.

          Following a July hearing, E.G. was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA). The dispositional order placed E.G. with her sister and her sister's family.

         Although E.G.'s sister was meeting her needs, it was noted in an August report that E.G. was having a difficult time transitioning at her sister's home and "that it is difficult for [the sister] and her husband to continuously spend time with [E.G.] due to their family dynamics involving their child and expected baby." According to E.G.'s therapist, it was "evident [the sister] desires to have a healthy older sister relationship with [E.G.] but is not able to provide long-term parental caregiving." E.G. was spending much of her time at the home of her uncle and maternal grandparents in Omaha (the same home in which the mother had originally asked E.G. be placed), where she was able to spend her summer days playing with cousins who lived nearby.

         An Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) was ordered to be completed on the uncle's home,[2] and the family informed DHS they believed it would be in E.G.'s best interests to be placed in the care of the uncle once it was completed. E.G. was ...


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