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Court affirms CHINS finding of child abandoned by parents

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected arguments by parents that their son should have been found to be a child in need of services under Indiana Code 31-34-1-6 because he substantially endangers his own health or the health of his family members. The appellate judges affirmed the CHINS finding under I.C. 31-34-1-1 that the parents had abandoned the child once he was placed in an emergency shelter.

C.U., born in December 2000, has a history of mental health issues, some of which were treated in Daviess County during a CHINS proceeding involving his biological mother and siblings. When that case closed, his father, C.U. Sr., and his wife, J.U., took the children. J.U. subsequently adopted the children. He was in therapy when he moved in with the family, but it ended due to scheduling conflicts.

C.U. claimed in April 2013 that J.U. abused him. He was placed in the emergency shelter care section of Lutherwood in Indianapolis. The Department of Child Services filed a petition alleging C.U. was a CHINS under I.C. 31-34-1-1 and -2. The parents denied the allegations. They also refused to pick up C.U. from the shelter or participate in any services. They claimed because of his mental health issues, he was a danger to himself and their family.

The trial court found C.U. to be a CHINS under I.C. 31-34-1-1 and ordered the family to participate in services recommended by DCS.

The judges rejected the parents’ claim that their case is similar to In re V.H., 967 N.E.2d 1066, 1072 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012), in which the COA reversed a CHINS adjudication and parental participation order. In that case, the mother tried to provide for her daughter, who had a mental health disorder, and had contacted police about altercations with her daughter.

“In sum, the Parents refused to provide shelter or treatment for the Child, leaving the Child’s care in the hands of the DCS. Although the Parents testified that the Child needs to be institutionalized, they took no steps to acquire such treatment for him and only assured the continuation of that treatment by their non-participation in the Child’s life. These facts support the trial court’s determination that the Child’ physical or mental condition was seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the Parents’ inability, refusal, or neglect in supplying the Child with the necessary shelter, medical care, or supervision and that the Child was in need of care, treatment, or rehabilitation that the Child was not receiving and was unlikely to be provided or accepted without the coercive intervention of the court,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in In the Matter of C.U., A Child in Need of Services, C.U. and J.U. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A05-1307-JC-354.  
 

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