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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.A.C.

May 21, 2008

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
J.A.C., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF T.J.B., A MINOR.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Ocean County, Docket No. FG-15-19-07.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 7, 2008

Before Judges Wefing, Parker and Koblitz.

Defendant J.A.C.*fn1 , the biological mother of T.J.B., appeals from a judgment entered on July 16, 2007 terminating her parental rights to the child. We affirm.

The following is a summary of facts relevant to the appeal. T.J.B. was born in 2004 addicted to methadone and diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome and hypoglycemia. When the child was born, J.A.C. was married to G.H.B. After treatment, the child was discharged to the care of his parents who were living with G.H.B.'s parents.

In September 2005, when the child was seventeen months old, Berkeley Township Police Department reported to the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) that the parents had fled the paternal grandparents' home with the child, and the paternal grandmother was concerned that both parents were using heroin. Ultimately, J.A.C. and the child were found in Newark. The child was placed with the paternal grandparents and J.A.C. was taken to the hospital to detoxify while waiting for a bed in a drug treatment facility. She left the hospital without medical approval, however, and did not enter the drug treatment program.

Thereafter, the parents virtually abandoned the child at the paternal grandparents' home. DYFS substantiated neglect and was granted legal custody in a protective services order. The child has remained in physical custody of the paternal grandparents since that time.

J.A.C. has been involved with DYFS since October 1998, when she was admitted to Southern Ocean County Hospital after slitting her wrists and overdosing on medication. In January 2001, she was admitted to the hospital after overdosing on cocaine, heroin and marijuana. After the September 2005 referral, DYFS attempted to provide numerous services to the parents, but J.A.C. continued to use drugs, failed to appear at custody hearings and was incarcerated for periods of time.

On November 28, 2005, J.A.C. contacted DYFS inquiring about her husband's whereabouts so that he could obtain bail for her to be released from jail. The caseworker told J.A.C. that her husband was in a drug rehabilitation facility. J.A.C. agreed to report to the caseworker when she was released from jail, but she did not do so.

On January 17, 2006, DYFS learned that G.H.B., the child's father, had died from a drug overdose. Ten days later, DYFS contacted G.H.B.'s cousin and learned that J.A.C. was working for an escort service. DYFS contacted J.A.C., made an appointment with her for February 21, 2006 and arranged to have an aide pick her up and transport her to the DYFS office. J.A.C. did not keep her appointment and called to reschedule. When DYFS contacted her on February 27, 2006, she advised that she had to appear in court in Jersey City on a prostitution charge on March 7, 2006.

On March 2, 2006, when a DYFS caseworker finally met with J.A.C., she signed releases and told DYFS that she was ready to enter a drug detoxification and rehabilitation program. At that meeting, she admitted she used two bags of heroin and one vial of cocaine that morning just to get through the day. DYFS located a bed at a substance abuse rehabilitation facility but she refused to go, claiming that she had to be in court on March 7 and had to say goodbye to her friends.

On March 7, 2006, DYFS advised J.A.C. that they would pick her up at 6:00 a.m. the next morning after her court appearance and take her to the rehabilitation program. She agreed and said she would be ready. She did not appear. DYFS continued efforts to contact her through the month of March without success. By April 12, ...


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