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In re J.B.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

IN THE INTEREST OF J.B., Minor Child, T.B., Father, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Carroll County, Joseph McCarville, District Associate Judge.

         A father appeals the juvenile court's adjudicatory and dispositional orders in a child-in-need-of-assistance proceeding. AFFIRMED.

          Douglas Cook of Cook Law Firm, Jewell, for appellant father.

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

          Martha Sibbel of Law Office of Martha Sibbel P.L.C., Carroll, attorney and guardian ad litem for minor child.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         A father appeals the juvenile court's adjudicatory and dispositional orders in a child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceeding. The father argues he did not consent to the child's adjudication or the use of the Iowa Department of Human Services' (DHS) social report. He challenges the court's dispositional findings based on the social report, claiming the court's use of the report violated Iowa Code section 232.97 (2019).

         The father and mother are the parents of J.B., born in 2016. DHS was involved with the family in 2017 and 2018.[1] In February 2019, police executed a search warrant at the mother's home, during which officers found illegal substances and paraphernalia in areas where the child had access. DHS returned a founded child-abuse assessment against the mother.

         On March 1, the State filed a CINA petition, alleging multiple grounds for adjudication. The mother initially agreed to a safety plan that included random drug testing, a substance-abuse evaluation, continuation of mental-health appointments, and cooperation with DHS services. However, the mother refused to sign an application for services, preventing DHS from authorizing or initiating any services. On April 1, the State filed an ex parte application to have the child temporarily removed from parental custody. The State asserted, "The life or health of the child is in imminent danger based upon" the mother's continued refusal to authorize services and "DHS [could not] ensure [the child's] safety due to not having an open service case to initiate appropriate services and monitor the safety of" the child. The district court granted the application and ordered the child's removal from both parents' care and placement in DHS's temporary custody. DHS placed the child with the maternal grandmother and offered supervised visitation to the parents.

         In early May, the mother tested positive for methamphetamine. On May 17, DHS filed its progress report, which noted the father's lack of engagement with DHS and the child since removal. On May 20, DHS filed its social-investigation report with the court. DHS recommended the child be adjudicated CINA and remain in its custody for placement in relative care. On May 22, the court held a combined adjudication and dispositional hearing with both parents present with their attorneys. During the hearing, the following exchange occurred:

[THE STATE]: Your Honor, it's my understanding that the parties have reached an agreement in this matter with regard to the adjudication. It's my understanding that both parents are going to agree that the child is in need. The child is a child in need of assistance, pursuant to subparagraph c(2) and n. Additionally, it is my understanding that the parents [are] in agreement with regards to the removal application, which is that the child shall remain in the custody of [DHS].
THE COURT: Okay. And is it the intent of the parties to do disposition today or is a dispositional hearing requested in one month?
[THE STATE]: From my understanding, Your Honor, it's-My understanding is that the parties will waive or agree to waive time for-to set out a dispositional hearing and will proceed to disposition today. And the dispositional ...

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