A neglect complaint was filed against a 16 years old mother alleging that she left her child with her mother and other unknown individuals without making adequate provisions for her care. There were also allegations of poor hygiene and medical neglect with respect to a serious diaper rash. The 16 years old mother made an admission of neglect and her child was placed with the commissioner for an initial period of twelve months. A New York Family Lawyer said the goal of the permanency plan was return to the parent and the young mother was expected to complete parenting skills classes, engage in therapy and to obtain suitable housing and employment in order to meet that goal.
A social service group was assigned as the foster care agency to manage the family. The record in court contains no evidence as to when the said agency received the contract. There are no records at all when the child was placed in care. Almost three full years, the agency placed into evidence and the only records documenting an assorted 13 months of casework by no less than five different caseworkers. The young mother testified on her own behalf and the law guardian consequently did not present any independent evidence.
The complainant alleges that although the agency arranged visitation between the young mother and her child, the mother for more than a year following the date on which the child came into the agency’s care, failed substantially and continuously or repeatedly to maintain contact with her child. The caseworker’s records do not reflect any formal visitation schedule set up by the agency between the mother and her child. A New York Custody Lawyer said in fact, the casework records only noted the visits by the mother to her child in the foster home in passing, as part of her observations in home visits at the foster home, or in conversations with the foster mother. However, those limited references suggested that the visitation between the mother and her child was regular and frequent.
The child remained in kinship foster care with the maternal grandmother. A Queens Family Lawyer said during those periods there is no record that the agency set up any visitation schedule between the mother and her child. A record of a foster home visit reveals that the maternal grandmother’s wish that the child be removed again from her care. Apparently, based upon caseworker notes, the child was placed in non-kinship, pre-adoptive home. But, there is no record that the agency communicated its change in permanency plan to the mother. There is also no record of any contact or attempted contact between the agency and the young mother. In fact, there is affirmative evidence that the agency prevented the young mother from visiting with her child.
The young mother however testified that she visited frequently her child in the kinship care, but had problems setting up visits when the child was in non-kinship care because the agency was unresponsive to her.
In any event, however, the court finds that the agency has woefully failed in its burden to show due diligence in arranging and encouraging visitation between the young mother and her child.
A Queens Custody Lawyer said the agency alleges that they referred the mother to parenting skills training classes and encouraged her to attend the classes. On the issue, the case records received into evidence and showed that the case worker made a referral for the mother to attend a class. Consequently, the young mother reported that she was attending but the caseworker called the program to confirm the mother’s attendance. All further information on that report was redacted from evidence. It was reported that the mother had not completed the parenting skills training. But, the young mother reported to the case worker that she was attending a parenting skills class.
The young mother testified credibly that she finished the course. She also testified that the initial referral was made when she was pregnant and required her to travel for the class. The second referral, which was completed, allowed her to take the course in her home. The court credits the testimony of the mother and finds that the agency did not meet its burden of diligence in assisting the mother to attain her goal.
The agency also alleges that they referred the mother for mental health counseling and encouraged her to attend counseling. There were at least three progress notes devoted to the therapeutic services being sought for the maternal grandmother to address her stress and give her emotional support. But, there was no record showing any referral at all for therapy or mental health services for the young mother.
There is a progress note indicating that the case worker visited the young mother’s address for a home visit and discovered that the mother was not there. The note states that the case worker was expecting that the mother was attending a program. But the caseworker was unable to provide the court with information as to exactly what services the mother was receiving that time. There are no other references to that program in the case record.
The court finds that the agency failed to meet its burden of showing that it made diligent efforts to engage the young mother in therapy.
The agency further alleges that they made diligent efforts to work with the mother in providing her with assistance in obtaining public assistance. The mother was still 16 years old when her child was placed in care. She told the caseworker that she required assistance with the public assistance application process. The caseworker apparently offered the assistance at that time, but was waiting for the mother to decide upon an official address.
In a progress notes completed by the case worker, the mother was planning to get a job at a local mall in order to gain stability and income in order to get her children back. At a home visit, the case worker further noted that the mother was in the process of applying for work. In the next progress notes, it revealed that the mother reported that she was working already.
The agency alleges that they worked with the mother to assist her in securing permanent, adequate housing. Even if the child was placed with the maternal grandmother at the inception of the case, the mother had advised the case worker that her mother was not a reliable resource.
During the time period that the case spanned, the young mother, of her own agreement and without any help or encouragement from the agency, completed her training, secured gainful employment and has been caring successfully for two additional children. The young mother provided the names of resources to care for her children on at least three occasions when there were issues with the resources identified by the agency. The mother knew that she was required to financially provide for her children, and that they would need a safe place to live. The records provided as evidence to the court do not provide an explanation for why the various resources she identified were rejected by the agency.
Consequently, the court is in difficultly in reaching any conclusion. However, the court found that the agency has failed to fulfill its legal mandate, has failed to meet its burden of proof, and its appeal to terminate the mother’s parental rights is dismissed.
Being a young parent is such a difficult situation to deal with. Young individuals tend to neglect their obligations. If you are in the same situation with someone in your family, it is important to seek guidance from the Bronx County Family Lawyer. If you want assistance with regards to your contentions about your child’s custody, the Bronx County Child Custody Attorneys are the right choice. But if you prefer to have the Bronx County Child Support Lawyers for an alleged child support filed against you, just call or visit Stephen Bilkis and Associates office.