from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Romonda
Belcher, District Associate Judge.
father appeals a dispositional order in a
Magdelena Reese of Cooper, Goedicke, Reimer & Reese,
P.C., Des Moines, (until withdrawal) and Cole J. Mayer of
Macro & Kozlowski, LLP, West Des Moines, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Kimberly A. Graham, Indianola, attorney and guardian ad litem
for minor child.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Vogel, S.J.
MULLINS, PRESIDING JUDGE.
child in interest came to the attention of the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS) when he was born
prematurely in September 2018 and tested positive for
methamphetamine, THC, opioids, and barbiturates. In October,
the State filed a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) petition
noting concerns for the mother's mental health, substance
abuse, and prior involvement with DHS, as well as the
father's history of substance abuse and criminal
activity. Due to withdrawal symptoms, the child had to be
hospitalized for an extended period of time. Upon the
child's discharge, the mother was living at House of
Mercy and the child began residing with her there. In
November, the juvenile court adjudicated the child to be a
CINA and ordered that the child remain with the mother, under
DHS supervision, so long as she continued to reside at House
of Mercy. In December, the State moved for modification of
placement to the maternal grandmother, citing the
mother's decision to leave House of Mercy. The father
joined the State's motion but objected to placement with
the maternal grandmother and instead requested placement with
him or the paternal grandmother. Following a hearing, the
juvenile court granted the State's motion and placed the
child with the maternal grandmother, under DHS supervision,
pending further hearing. The court ordered the matter to be
reconsidered at the time of the subsequent dispositional
dispositional hearing was held in February 2019. At the
hearing, the State recommended that the child be returned to
the mother, noting she had been living with the child and
maternal grandmother and "things have continued to go
well." The child's attorney and guardian ad litem
joined in the State's recommendation. The father
generally testified his primary concerns with the child being
placed with the mother related to her checkered past and his
inability to have consistent visitation with and help raise
dispositional order, the court ordered that the child be
returned to the mother subject to DHS supervision, so long as
she continues to reside with the maternal grandmother,
determining such disposition to be the least restrictive
alternative under the circumstances. The court based its
decision on the following:
The mother successfully completed intensive outpatient
treatment on February 25, 2019. She ha[s] provided negative
drug screens and continue[s] to engage in continuing care to
address her substance abuse and mental health disorders. She
is actively engaged in Recovery Court/Project Iowa
programming. She is engaged in NA and with a parent partner
and seeking a sponsor. The mother has been residing with her
mother where the child has been residing, and there ha[ve]
not been any safety concerns. The mother has demonstrated an
ability to meet the child's needs.
court also ordered that the father be provided additional
visitation with the child and that such visits transition to
semi-supervised and unsupervised upon the father's
compliance with services and absent safety concerns.
father now appeals, challenging the court's denial of his
request for modification of placement and placing the child
with the mother. On appeal, he requests that we place the
child in his care or, alternatively, with the child's
paternal grandmother. Following a dispositional hearing,
"the court shall make the least restrictive disposition
appropriate considering all the circumstances of the
case." Iowa Code § 232.99(4) (2018).
our de novo review and in consideration of the best interests
of the child, see In re L.H., 904 N.W.2d 145, 149
(Iowa 2017), we conclude the court's determination that
placement with the mother is the least restrictive
alternative is supported by clear and convincing evidence.
See In re ...