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Termination rash in special needs CHINS case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the termination of a mother's parental rights to her special needs son, finding the decision would create a "sobering message" to parents of children who need ongoing assistance.

In the case In Re: The Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of M.S.; H.S., mother, No. 09A04-0805-JV-276, 8-year-old M.S. had been deemed a child in need of services as a result of his personality disorder and severe behavioral difficulties. His mother, H.S., who has two younger children, asked the Department of Child Services for help in caring for M.S. The mother had to sometimes hold M.S. down to protect him from hurting the other children or himself, and in the process would be harmed by her son.

Despite H.S.'s participation in services designed to help her parent M.S., she continued to need help caring for her son. DCS filed a petition to terminate her parental rights; several witnesses for the department testified the termination was in the best interest of M.S. because his mother wouldn't be able to provide the care he needed, despite her best efforts.

The termination of parental rights was premature, wrote Chief Judge John Baker, because no one knows if and when M.S. becomes stabilized if he will be able to live in the home with H.S. and his brothers.

"But to say that Mother's parental rights must be terminated merely because her child has special needs and she needs help to manage his behavior would send a sobering message indeed to all of the parents in Indiana with children who need ongoing medical or psychological assistance," wrote the chief judge. "In effect, as aptly put by Mother's attorney during the termination hearing, taking this step 'creates a message that if you've got a child that is difficult and you do seek help for that child, your reward is the child is removed, never to return.'"

The courts, instead of taking the "radical action" of severing the parent-child bond prematurely, should work with DCS to focus on helping M.S. become stabilized and re-evaluate his best interests later if that occurs.

The Court of Appeals remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

  2. The Indiana DOE released the 2015-2016 school grades in Dec 2016 and my local elementary school is a "C" grade school. Look at the MCCSC boundary maps and how all of the most affluent neighborhoods have the best performance. It is no surprise that obtaining residency in the "A" school boundaries cost 1.5 to 3 times as much. As a parent I should have more options than my "C" school without needing to pay the premium to live in the affluent parts of town. If the charter were authorized by a non-religious school the plaintiffs would still be against it because it would still be taking per-pupil money from them. They are hiding behind the guise of religion as a basis for their argument when this is clearly all about money and nothing else.

  3. This is a horrible headline. The article is about challenging the ability of Grace College to serve as an authorizer. 7 Oaks is not a religiously affiliated school

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  5. The headline change to from "religious" to "religious-affiliated" is still inaccurate and terribly misleading.

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