Kids living with grandmother insufficient to halt CHINS case

A mother’s argument that her children were not in need of services because they were being cared for by their maternal grandmother was insufficient to halt the CHINS proceedings, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Mother K.S. challenged the Putnam Circuit Court findings that her nearly 4-year-old twins Mo.C. and Ma.C. were children in need of services after mother failed to attend a fact-finding hearing. She also failed to attend a review hearing, and the court found she had abandoned the children and did not provide for their daily or financial needs. Their father was in jail during much of this period, but did participate remotely in one hearing.

The court also found neither mother nor father had complied with the CHINS case plan nor had their parenting ability improved. On appeal, mother contested the CHINS findings, citing in particular the care children were receiving from their maternal grandmother.

“We first point out Mother cites no case law supporting her argument the twins aren’t CHINS because they are in the care of maternal grandmother,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in CHINS: K.S. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 20A-JC-02000.

“Moreover, aside from the CHINS case, there is no evidence in the record maternal grandmother has any legal authority to care for the twins or act on their behalf. For example, there is no guardianship, and maternal grandmother does not have custody or a power of attorney.

“Accordingly, the CHINS case should continue until maternal grandmother has legal authority. In the meantime, the coercive intervention of the court is needed to provide legal authority to maternal grandmother and ensure the twins’ needs are being met. We therefore affirm the trial court’s finding the twins are CHINS.

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