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In re P.J.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 18, 2018

IN THE INTEREST OF P.J., V. P, V.P., and V.P., Minor Children, C.M., Mother, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl E. Traum, District Associate Judge.

         A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her children. AFFIRMED.

          Jennifer Triner Olsen of Olsen Law Office, Davenport, for appellant mother.

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

          Martha L. Cox, Bettendorf, guardian ad litem for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         A mother appeals from the termination of her parental rights to her children, [1]pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(d) and (f) (2017).[2]

         The mother claims that the evidence does not show termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the children. She argues siblings should be kept together, reasonable efforts were not made by the State, and the mother-child relationship weighs against termination of her parental rights.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings.

         C.M. is the mother of P.J., born in December 2009; Vo.P., born in April 2012; and twins Va.P. and Ve.P., born in August 2013.[3] In May 2015, the department of human services (DHS) investigated concerns of abuse against P.J. by the father of Vo.P., Va.P., and Ve.P. The father admitted to such abuse and was arrested in July 2015. After the incident of abuse, services were offered to the mother to address the risk of abuse to the children, domestic violence, lack of appropriate housing, chaotic lifestyle, and unmet mental-health needs. Services went largely unutilized and the whereabouts of the family were not well known for some time.

         In November 2015, the children were adjudicated to be in need of assistance pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.2(6)(b), (c)(1), (c)(2), (e), (f), (g), (m), and (n) (2015). The children have remained in foster care since their most recent removal and placement on February 24, 2016. P.J. is in one foster home, brothers Vo.P and Ve.P. are in a foster home together, and Va.P. is in a third foster home.

         During these juvenile court proceedings, the mother has moved multiple times and had various employment. Neither the housing nor the employment ever proved long term or sufficient to provide the stability necessary for the children.

         The mother underwent a substance-abuse and psychological evaluation. No substance-abuse treatment was recommended. The mother was diagnosed as intellectually low functioning. In response to the psychological evaluation results, Lutheran Services, as Family Safety, Risk and Permanency (FSRP) service provider, utilized an "easy learning nurturing handbook" to assist in parenting ...


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