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In re A.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF A.C., M.B., and B.E., Minor Children, STATE OF IOWA, Appellant, J.B., Father of M.B., Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.

         The State appeals an order in a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding returning custody of a child to her mother and scheduling the return of a second child within forty-five days of the order.

          Daniel M. Northfield, Urbandale, for appellant father of M.B.

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

          Lisa M. Noble of Noble Law Office, Des Moines, for appellee mother. Erin E. Mayfield of Youth Law Center, Des Moines, guardian ad litem for minor children.

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

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         The State appeals an order in a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding returning custody of a child to her mother and scheduling the return of a second child within forty-five days of the order.[1] The State argues (1) both children would be subject to harm if returned and (2) the juvenile court should have changed the permanency goal to termination of the mother's parental rights.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         This case involves three children, born in 2006, 2009, and 2014. The department of human services intervened in early 2017 after learning that the father of the youngest child sexually abused the oldest child. It was later learned that another person sexually abused the second child. The children's mother agreed to abide by a safety plan.

         In time, the department determined the mother lacked insight into the abuse. The State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance petition.

         The juvenile court ordered the children temporarily removed "due to their mother's failure to protect them from sexual abuse and failure to comply with safety plans." Later, the court confirmed the removal order and adjudicated the children in need of assistance. In the adjudication order, the court found the mother "demonstrated a marked inability to control her emotions and act appropriately in front of the children."

         One year after the adjudication order was filed, the court filed a permanency order continuing the children's placement outside the mother's home. The court simultaneously granted the mother a six-month extension to work toward reunification after exhorting her to show "insight into the abuse and the safety concerns of this case . . . and demonstrate her ability to keep her children safe from sex offenders moving forward."

         Two months later, the department reported that the mother shared pictures of the children on her Facebook page that the father of the youngest child "liked." The department also reported an incident at a birthday party in which the mother "requested to Facetime the father of the third child." ...


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