Parents of children removed from the home for 15 of the prior 22 months before a hearing on termination of parental rights may not argue that a lack of services during that time tolls the waiting period, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
“On this question of first impression, we hold that Indiana Code Section 31-35-2-4(b)(2)(A)(iii) simply requires the DCS to demonstrate compliance with the statutory waiting period — namely, that a child has been removed from a parent for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months immediately prior to the termination hearing,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of J.W., Jr., A.W., and D.D., Minor Children, T.D., Mother, and J.W., Sr., Father v. Ind. Dept. of Child Services, 82A04-1408-JT-380.
“That statute does not condition the waiting period on whether the DCS provided or otherwise made available any type of services to the parent. As such, we affirm the trial court’s termination of the Parents’ parental rights.”
Najam wrote that the parents in this case had been homeless, unemployed and admitted they were in no position to care for their children. The trial court also found the parents had failed to cooperate with or participate in family aid services, visitation, or provide drug screens.
“In sum, we cannot say that the trial court’s finding that the DCS satisfied its burden to show that the Children had been removed from the Parents for fifteen of the twenty-two months immediately prior to the termination hearing is contrary to law or otherwise clearly erroneous,” the court concluded.