On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-16-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 4, 2010
Before Judges Lisa and Sabatino.
Defendant, J.W., appeals from the November 4, 2009 judgment of guardianship terminating his parental rights to his daughter, Z.Y.W., who was born on October 6, 2004. Z.Y.W.'s mother, L.R.D., defaulted in the trial court proceedings. Her parental rights to Z.Y.W. were also terminated, and she has not appealed. The trial court proceedings also involved another child of L.R.D., her son Z.K.D., who was born on October 12, 2006.
L.R.D.'s parental rights to Z.K.D., as well as the rights of Z.K.D.'s father, K.H., were also terminated in that proceeding. Neither parent has appealed.
Defendant argues that the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS or Division) failed to present clear and convincing evidence to satisfy its burden of proving the third and fourth prongs of the best interests of the child test. The Law Guardian supported termination in the trial court and joins the Division on appeal in urging us to affirm the termination order. We are satisfied from our review of the record that the Division presented sufficient evidence to support Judge Callahan's findings that the third and fourth prongs (as well as the first and second prongs) were clearly and convincingly established. Therefore, we affirm.
The Division's involvement in this case began on June 15, 2007, when Z.K.D.'s paternal grandmother, L.H., informed DYFS that L.R.D. had been wandering the streets, looking for someone to take Z.K.D. from her. DYFS initially took custody of Z.K.D., who was placed in L.H.'s care. However, DYFS was unable to immediately locate Z.Y.W. or L.R.D. When they were located, the Division took custody of Z.Y.W. and placed her with her maternal aunt, R.D.
Sometime after Z.Y.W.'s initial placement, R.D. was arrested on drug charges. By January 15, 2008, Z.Y.W. was placed with L.H., who continued to have custody of Z.Y.W.'s half brother, Z.K.D.*fn1
While caring for both children, L.H. requested and received assistance from the Division. L.H. embarked upon the process of becoming licensed as a foster parent. She asked the Division for assistance with paying off several outstanding traffic fines that were impeding the licensing process. The Division notified her that it was willing to pay a portion of those fines, and it ultimately paid $678. L.H.'s home was licensed in January 2009.
On January 12, 2009, L.H. requested that Z.Y.W. be removed from the home because L.H. was unable to care for her. On January 14, 2009, Z.Y.W. was removed from L.H.'s home and placed with a foster mother. Z.Y.W. has remained in that foster home and is doing well. Her foster mother intends to adopt her.
In the hopes of reuniting the children with their mother, DYFS provided L.R.D. with various services, including counseling, psychological and psychiatric evaluations, parenting skills programs, drug screening, case plans, and transportation assistance. L.R.D. was substantially non-compliant with these services. L.R.D. failed to appear at various court proceedings, ...