On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FG-04-114-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges S. L. Reisner, Gilroy and Baxter.
T.B.H. and K.K.J., the biological mother and father respectively of R.C.H., a boy born February 4, 1997, appeal from the March 28, 2007 order of the Family Part, which terminated their parental rights to R.C.H. T.B.H. also appeals from that part of the same order, which terminated her parental rights to N.A.E., her son, born April 26, 2005.*fn1 We affirm.
On March 12, 2002, after receiving several unsubstantiated referrals concerning allegations of child abuse in 2000 and 2001, the State of New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) received another referral indicating that T.B.H. had beaten R.C.H., who was then five years old, because he "messed up the TV." This allegation of abuse was substantiated.
On April 10, 2002, DYFS received a referral indicating that T.B.H. had thrown her one-year-old daughter, Z.H., onto the floor. Although DYFS did not substantiate the alleged abuse, T.B.H. informed the caseworker that "she is very overwhelmed and depressed by her children and feels that if they are placed outside the home, it will give her some time to get herself stable." T.B.H. also advised the caseworker that "she sometimes had suicide ideations."
After T.B.H. signed a fifteen-day consent for placement of R.C.H. and Z.H., DYFS removed them from their mother's custody. Z.H. was placed with a relative. R.C.H. could not be placed with K.K.J. because K.K.J. was completing a five-year term of imprisonment, having been convicted on August 18, 2000, of third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance to a juvenile within a school zone; third-degree theft from the person; and fourth-degree unlawful taking of a means of conveyance. Accordingly, R.C.H. was placed in a foster home.
During the fifteen-day voluntary placement, DYFS provided services to T.B.H., including a psychological evaluation by Dr. Richard Quane, and a psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Gregory Williams, both of whom diagnosed T.B.H. with psychological disorders. Although DYFS attempted to provide additional services to T.B.H., she did not comply; rather, T.B.H. moved to Philadelphia with her paramour and did not attempt to contact DYFS concerning her children.
On October 17, 2002, DYFS filed an abuse and neglect complaint against T.B.H. regarding R.C.H. and Z.H. K.K.J. was not named as a defendant in that complaint. Shortly thereafter, DYFS filed an amended complaint against T.B.H. regarding T.E., another son of T.B.H. All three children were placed by DYFS. Between April 2002 and June 2003, R.C.H. had been placed in four different homes, including that of a relative, S.H. Unfortunately, R.C.H. had to be removed from placement with S.H. after one day because he struck another child and had sexually acted out. In June 2003, R.C.H. was reunited with K.K.J., who had been released from prison.
On January 14, 2005, DYFS received a referral indicating that K.K.J. and R.C.H. were about to be evicted from their apartment for non-payment of rent. After being evicted, K.K.J. and R.C.H. resided at a shelter in Glassboro, before relocating to a motel. In June 2005, K.K.J. was arrested for auto theft. On arrest, K.K.J. requested that the police take R.C.H. to his mother, who was living in Camden with her paramour and her two new children. On July 11, 2005, DYFS filed an amended complaint for child abuse and neglect, naming K.K.J. as a defendant.
In the interim, on July 6, 2005, DYFS received a referral from Virtua Hospital indicating that T.B.H.'s one-and-one-half year old daughter, T.E., had sustained serious injuries to her head, including "occipital and orbital fracture[s]" and to her teeth to where the teeth had "erupted" and "were embedded in [her] lip." Although a fracture was also found in T.E.'s right arm, no determination was made as to whether the fracture was old or new. Hospital personnel described the minor child as looking "like a 'battered woman,'" with her face and lip swollen, and stitches in her face. DYFS substantiated the allegations of child abuse against T.B.H.
Following a police investigation, T.B.H. was arrested and charged with second-degree aggravated assault on T.E. and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.*fn2 DYFS removed R.C.H., N.A.E., and T.E. from T.B.H.'s custody. R.C.H. and N.A.E. were originally placed with C.E. and S.C., whom DYFS believed were N.A.E.'s father and paternal grandmother, respectively. Following a paternity test, which disclosed that C.E. was not the child's father, N.A.E. was placed with K.W., who has continued to care for him. Although K.K.J. was not then incarcerated because the auto theft charges had been dismissed, he did not have appropriate housing for R.C.H. at the time of the removal. Accordingly, R.C.H. was initially placed with S.C., but later removed on July 13, 2005, because the foster parent could not control him. R.C.H. was then placed in another ...