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Court reverses DCS order requiring mother to take prescribed meds

February 20, 2013

A mother whose child was adjudicated as child in need of services won a partial victory before the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday.

In In the Matter of: Am.K., A Child In Need of Services and A.M. v. Marion County Department of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., 49A02-1207-JC-533, mother A.M. challenged the propriety of a parental participation order entered after her daughter AM.-K. was found to be a CHINS. She claimed that because the Department of Child Services failed to file a parental participation petition, the juvenile court lacked authority to order her to participate in any services or treatment. She also claimed that the order directing her to take any medications as prescribed violates her constitutional right to decide her own mental health treatment.

A.M.’s two children were removed from her custody and alleged to be CHINS after police found the mother naked behind a hotel behaving oddly. She was involuntarily committed for emergency mental health treatment and originally was taking medicine for her bipolar disorder, but stopped because it affected her existing heart condition. The mother also testified at a hearing she objected to medication on religious grounds.

The Court of Appeals found that although DCS failed to file a formal parental participation petition as described in Indiana Code 31-34-16-3, it did file a predispositional report that included all of its recommendations for the proposed plan of care, treatment, rehabilitation and placement of A.M.-K. The other child was placed with her father. The report substantially complied with the statute. Mother specifically agreed to almost all of the recommendations as to how she should fulfill her obligation as a mother except for the requirement she take all medications as prescribed.

Regarding the order she take all medications as prescribed, the Court of Appeals ruled that additional evidence is necessary to overcome A.M.’s constitutionally protected liberty interest in remaining free of unwanted intrusions in the mind and body, Judge John Baker wrote.

“Moreover, we believe that there is an inherent problem where, as here, the parental participation order does not direct Mother to take a specifically recommended medication on the basis of a doctor’s evaluation of Mother’s mental health but requires Mother to take any and all medications without regard to her objections and the possible side effects,” he wrote.

The case is remanded for further proceedings.
 
 

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