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Evidence supports CHINS finding, COA affirms

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Based on evidence that a mother continued to have extensive problems with drugs and violent relationships with her children’s fathers, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the determination that a woman’s two young children were children in need of services.

E.B. appealed the order finding that her children, who were under the age of three at the time, were in need of services. The Department of Child Services became involved with E.B. after receiving a report she used and sold drugs from her home where her children lived. When a case manager tried to follow up at the home, she found no one living there. E.B. declined to initially tell DCS where her children were living.

DCS filed the petition alleging the kids were CHINs based on E.B.’s admission to using cocaine three months earlier and refusing to disclose the location of the children. The day after the petition was filed, she tested positive for alcohol and marijuana, which she admitted to using daily.

E.B. underwent a substance use disorder assessment with a counselor. The counselor’s report was admitted during the CHINS hearing. The trial court cited the daily use of drugs by E.B., the age of her children, her violent history with her children’s fathers, among other things, as reasons why the children are CHINS. The court has since released wardship over the children and closed this case as E.B. has completed all ordered services and had clean drug screens since February 2013.

The COA affirmed the CHINs determination, finding evidence supports that E.B. continued to have extensive problems with drugs, violent relationships with her children’s fathers, and that these problems are harmful to the children. The trial court’s findings also support its judgment that there is a substantial risk of endangerment to the children, and that they need care, treatment or rehabilitation that they are not receiving and would not receive without court intervention, Judge Edward Najam wrote in In the Matter of Des.B. and Dem.B., Minor Children in Need of Services, E.B. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A02-1306-JC-487.  

The judges also affirmed the admission of the telephonic testimony of John Martin. Martin worked at a California lab and analyzed E.B.’s drug test. His testimony regarding mother’s failed drug screen was harmless because it was merely cumulative of evidence already before the court. E.B. claimed he was allowed to testify by phone despite the court not following the procedure outlined in Indiana Administrative Rule 14.

 

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