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Mom loses bid to bar DCS child interviews after clean home check

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A mother who challenged a court order granting the Department of Child Services’ petitions to interview her minor children lost her appeal Wednesday, despite her argument that a DCS inspection of her home and her screening found no evidence of drug abuse that had been alleged in a complaint.

“We conclude that Mother has failed to establish that the trial court erred in granting DCS’s Petitions to Interview Children or that she was denied due process,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the majority in In Re: The Matter of A.H., and S.H., Minor Children, V.H., Mother v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 10A01-1302-JM-93. “Accordingly, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.”

Mother V.H. said she wished to shield her children from false allegations that she suspected were made by the children’s father, who V.H. claimed had previously made false complaints against her.

DCS on Jan. 9 received a report that V.H. was using methamphetamine and heroin on a daily basis and selling drugs while her 4-, 6-, and 8-year-old children were at home. A DCS caseworker visited the home two days later and found no such evidence, and the mother passed a drug screen.

But V.H. declined to agree to allow the caseworker to interview the children about the drug allegations. She said subjecting the children to the interview was a violation of her 14th Amendment right to direct the upbringing of her children.
 
The trial court said the mother’s argument was compelling, but ultimately held, “In this case, [DCS] has a compelling interest, and has no other means to directly assess the conditions of these children without an interview.”

“While we recognize the fundamental right of a parent to raise her child without undue interference by the state, we cannot say that due process requires DCS to conduct an assessment or a portion of an assessment in order to obtain information which would provide a basis supporting the accuracy or reliability of the report, prior to interviewing the child or children,” Brown wrote in the majority opinion joined by Judge Cale Bradford.

“Indeed, an interview of the child or children as part of this initial evaluation may provide the information needed for DCS to classify a report as substantiated or unsubstantiated. We cannot say that legislation allowing DCS the ability to interview a child as part of the initial assessment and after obtaining a court order if necessary violates due process.”

In dissent, Judge Patricia Riley said she would consider the appeal moot since the trial court refused to stay the interviews pending appeal, and that the matter is of limited public import.

“In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I must conclude that the children have been interviewed and no effective relief can be given to Mother,” Riley wrote.

“I conclude that the case does not present an issue of great public interest and, therefore, I would dismiss the appeal as moot.”
 

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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