IN THE INTEREST OF V.S. and A.S., Minor Children, G.S., Mother, Appellant, A.S., Father, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Karen Kaufman
Salic, District Associate Judge.
father and mother separately appeal the termination of their
A. Milder, Waverly, for appellant mother.
Danielle M. DeBower of Eggert, Erb, Kuehner & DeBower,
P.L.C., Charles City, for appellant father.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith L. Lamberti,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Cynthia Schuknecht of Noah, Smith, Schuknecht & Sloter,
P.L.C., Charles City, for guardian ad litem for minor
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.
father and mother separately appeal termination of their
parental rights to A.S., born in 2009, and V.S., born in
2013. The parents' rights were terminated pursuant to
Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(f) (2017). The father argues
the State failed to prove the children could not be returned
to his custody, the State did not make reasonable efforts
toward reunification, and the district court erred in failing
to dismiss the termination petition based on the misconduct
of the witness for the Iowa Department of Human Services
(DHS). The mother argues the State did not make reasonable
efforts toward reunification, the children could have been
returned to her custody at the time of the termination
hearing, termination is not in the best interests of the
children, and the district court should have dismissed the
termination petition based on misconduct of the witness for
Background Facts and Proceedings.
family was first involved with DHS in June 2015 when the
mother left the children in a car in a casino parking lot for
a period of time. A resulting child-abuse investigation was
founded for denial of critical care. DHS provided services
for three months and identified no additional concerns.
present case, a year after the first involvement of DHS, the
children were removed in June 2016 when the mother was
arrested. The mother and the children had been living at a
hotel for ten days. When confronted with her unpaid hotel
bill, the mother became angry and destructive, and the hotel
called law enforcement. The mother was arrested on an
outstanding warrant. The father was jailed in Minnesota at
the time. The mother admitted to smoking methamphetamine in
the hotel room bathroom while the children were in her care;
methamphetamine was found in her vehicle. She also admitted
to leaving the children at the hotel alone to visit a casino
over two hours away. A.S. had not consistently participated
in school and both children were behind on their
vaccinations. The children were placed in foster care and, in
July, were adjudicated as children in need of assistance
(CINA). A dispositional hearing was held in August. A review
hearing was held in January 2017. The parents did not attend.
February, the parents were arrested for violating parole by
continuing to use methamphetamine and failing to participate
in substance-abuse treatment. The mother and father entered
separate residential correctional facilities and began
substance-abuse treatment. Both parents have a history of
engaging in criminal activities. In 2015, the mother was
convicted of two counts of felony theft, seven counts of
misdemeanor theft, forgery, and a methamphetamine offense.
The father has a felony drug conviction in Minnesota and a
felony theft conviction in Iowa. The mother was arrested
again in April 2017.
parents were resistant to family safety, risk, and permanency
(FSRP) services throughout the case. In the spring of 2017,
the mother told the FSRP provider she would not meet with her
for status sessions, provided for the purpose of discussing
the case plan and parent goals, and would only attend visits
with the children. The district court found that of the fifty
scheduled visits during the first eighteen months of the CINA
case, the parents canceled or did not attend twenty-four
visits, including many times when they did not want to
schedule visits for a week or so at a time or did not contact
the provider to schedule visits. The parents often failed to
confirm visits, causing them to be canceled; confirmed visits
but did not attend, causing the children anxiety and distrust
over whether their parents would show up; or showed ...