The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s determination that an infant is a child in need of services after finding the parents have improved their living situation that led to their three other children being removed.
The parental rights of mother S.S. and father B.M. to their three young children were terminated in March 2012 because of poor living conditions, the special needs of the children, and the parents’ lack of cooperation to complete ordered services. A month later, the mother gave birth to R.S., who tested negative for drugs.
The Department of Child Services filed a petition alleging R.S. to be a child in need of services based on the family’s history before R.S. was born. Now the parents are able to live in an adequate home and provide food, diapers and other necessities for their daughter. They also appropriately interacted with R.S. during visits. Both parents have low cognitive functioning scores and mother has a personality disorder for which she was seeking to resume medication.
“This evidence simply does not support the trial court’s conclusion that the most significant reasons for which the prior termination order was entered have not been corrected, and R.S.’s physical and/or mental condition is seriously impaired or at risk as a result of the parents’ inability to provide the child with the necessary shelter and supervision,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote in In the Matter of: R.S. (Minor Child), Child in Need of Services, and S.S. (Mother) & B.M. (Father) v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 02A05-1208-JC-422.
“Here, it is apparent that Parents have made positive changes in their lives. This is something for which we should applaud them rather than condemn them through coercive action.”