On appeal from the final decision of the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, AHU#02-120.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 24, 2007
Before Judges A. A. Rodríguez, Collester and Lyons.
C.M. and J.M. (appellants) are husband and wife. They challenge pro se the final agency decision by the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services, denying their application for licensure as foster parents. We affirm.
At the time that appellants sought licensure, their granddaughter, A.R., was residing in their home. A.R.'s biological mother, "Betty"*fn1 is the daughter of C.M. from a prior relationship. Betty was sixteen years old at the time of A.R.'s birth. She has a history of emotional and behavioral problems. According to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center documentation, A.R. was discharged after her birth to the care of C.M. Thereafter, DYFS placed A.R. in appellants' home. They have taken care of A.R. since then. A.R. is now six years old.
The Bureau of Licensing (BOL) of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS),*fn2 denied appellants' application. This denial was based upon incidents that occurred on April 11, 1993 and December 9, 1998, that reflect on appellants' fitness to be licensed as foster parents.
The April 11, 1993 incident involved Betty, who was then ten years of age. The Elizabeth Police Department Incident Report reflects that C.M. was charged with simple assault against her husband and aggravated assault against Betty and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. According to the report, during a dispute between the appellants, C.M. possessed a knife and "inadvertently struck [Betty] in the eye with the knife." Betty was transported to the hospital. She was treated and released. According to the hospital records, Betty sustained a laceration under her left eye which required sutures. Subsequently, the Elizabeth Municipal Court dismissed the criminal charges against C.M.
The December 9, 1998 incident began with Betty going to appellants' home at 9:40 p.m. to get A.R. She was refused. The local police telephoned C.M. She stated that her daughter cannot return to her home. DYFS caseworkers went to the home with Betty. C.M. would not allow Betty to come inside the home. According to the DYFS report, C.M. shut the door in Betty's face, but allowed the DYFS caseworkers to enter. However, one caseworker stayed with Betty. While the caseworker was talking to C.M., there was a loud breaking of glass. Appellants went to the door and saw that Betty had broken the glass on the front door. J.M. went outdoors and started fighting verbally with Betty. The caseworker asked C.M. to telephone the police. She refused stating, "he should kick her ass." J.M. and Betty fought from the front stairs of the home into the front yard.
One caseworker was able to telephone the police. Betty threatened to return and set the house on fire.
The police filed charges against Betty for damaging property and domestic violence. She was detained at the Youth Shelter. Thereafter, a juvenile delinquency complaint against Betty was entered. A domestic violence final restraining order was entered against Betty. The order gave custody of A.R. to C.M.
Based primarily on the 1993 and 1998 incident, the BOL denied appellants' application for licensure as foster parents. Appellants challenge the denial of their application. The matter was referred to the Office of Administrative Law as a contested case. Following a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concluded that the licensure application should be granted.
The Commissioner adopted the ALJ's factual findings, but disagreed with the conclusion that "there is no reason to believe that, founded upon [appellants'] prior actions, there is a ...