On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County, Docket No. FG-12-55-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Gilroy and Simonelli.
R.H., the biological mother of J.J.H., a boy born September 2005, appeals from the June 18, 2009 order that terminated her parental rights to her son. We affirm.
The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS or Division) first became involved with R.H. in 1995 after her first child tested positive for cocaine and methadone at birth.*fn1
On July 24, 2006, DYFS executed an emergency removal of J.J.H. from R.H.'s custody after DYFS determined that R.H. had left the child home unattended, and R.H. had recently tested positive for drugs. On July 26, 2006, the court entered an order granting DYFS custody and care of the child.
Initially, the Division's plan was for reunification of R.H. with her son. However, because R.H. continued to use drugs, was arrested and incarcerated, the court entered an order on June 25, 2008, approving the Division's permanency plan for termination of parental rights followed by adoption. On August 15, 2008, DYFS filed a guardianship complaint.
The case was tried to the court on June 8, and June 18, 2009. Testifying on behalf of DYFS were Tracy Calderon, a caseworker in DYFS's permanency unit; Marcia McCalla, a family service specialist in the adoption unit; and Dr. Cameron Wells, a psychologist. Although defendant testified on her behalf, she did not call any witnesses. At the conclusion of trial, the court rendered an oral decision terminating R.H.'s parental rights.
THE COURT ERRED IN TERMINATING R.H.'S PARENTAL RIIGHTS TO [J.J.H.] AS THE DIVISION FAILED TO PROVE EACH OF THE FOUR PRONGS OF THE BEST INTEREST[S] TEST.
A. THE DIVISION HAS FAILED TO ESTABLISH BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT [J.J.H.'S] SAFETY, HEALTH OR DEVELOPMENT HAS BEEN ...