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In re C.W.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 20, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF C.W., Minor Child, D.W., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Karen Kaufman Salic, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to a child. AFFIRMED.

          William P. Baresel of Prichard Law Office, PC, Charles City, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meredith Lamberti, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Cynthia Schuknecht of Noah, Smith, Schuknecht & Sloter, P.L.C., Charles City, guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to a child, born in 2006.[1] He contends the department of human services failed to make reasonable efforts towards reunification.

         The district court terminated the father's parental rights pursuant to three statutory provisions. See Iowa Code § 232.116(1)(d), (e), (f) (2018). All three implicate the reasonable-efforts requirement, but we will focus on section 232.116(1)(f). See In re A.B., 815 N.W.2d 764, 774 (Iowa 2012) ("When the juvenile court terminates parental rights on more than one statutory ground, we may affirm the juvenile court's order on any ground we find supported by the record.").

         Section 232.116(1)(f) requires proof of several elements, including proof the child cannot be returned to the parent's custody. "The State must show reasonable efforts as a part of its ultimate proof the child cannot be safely returned to the care of a parent." In re L.M., 904 N.W.2d 835, 839 (Iowa 2017) (quoting In re C.B., 611 N.W.2d 489, 493 (Iowa 2000)). "The reasonable efforts concept would broadly include a visitation arrangement designed to facilitate reunification while protecting the child from the harm responsible for the removal." Id. (quoting In re M.B., 553 N.W.2d 343, 345 (Iowa Ct. App. 1996)).

         Our de novo review of the record reveals the following facts. The department became involved with the child after receiving information that the father sexually abused him. Following an investigation, the department issued a founded child-abuse report naming the father as the perpetrator. The child was subsequently adjudicated in need of assistance.

         At the time of adjudication, the district court ordered the father "to submit to a psycho-social evaluation and follow all treatment recommendations." A department employee made arrangements for the evaluation, allowing the father to choose between two dates. The father responded that he was unsure whether he could get off work. The caseworker advised him to find out as soon as possible. Four months later, the father had yet to provide the department with a response.

         The district court ordered the department to reschedule the evaluation "once Father initiates contact with the [department." Five months later, the department caseworker reported that she rescheduled the evaluation several times and the father was a "no show." She confirmed the father did "not participate[] in services."

         The district court again ordered the father to submit to an evaluation. The father appeared for the first of a two-part session approximately ...


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