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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. M.G.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 3, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
M.G. and K.C., Defendants-Appellants. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF Y. N.C. , a minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 29, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FG-04-124-12.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant M.G. (Anna F. Patras, Designated Counsel, of counsel and on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant K.C. (Richard Sparaco, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Lisa J. Godfrey, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor Y. N.C. (David Valentin, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, on the brief).

Before Judges Parrillo, Sabatino, and Fasciale.

PER CURIAM

In these consolidated matters, K.C. and M.G. appeal the termination of their parental rights to their son Y. N.C. We affirm.

Twenty-one year-old K.C. gave birth to Y. N.C. on May 13, 2004. Y. N.C. is a special needs child who is learning and behaviorally disabled. In addition to Y. N.C. , M.G. fathered seventeen other children, born to eleven different women. K.C. is the mother of two of these other children, J. and R., who reside in the custody of their maternal grandmother, D.P. K.C. has one other daughter, I., who resides in the custody of her paternal aunt.

The Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) became involved with this family on November 5, 2003, having received a referral from police officers who witnessed K.C. punching her then-three-year-old daughter I. "five times." D.P. had both physical and legal custody of I. at the time. The Division removed I. from D.P. and eventually placed her in her paternal aunt's care.

On September 20, 2004, only four months after Y. N.C. 's birth, the court granted temporary custody of the child to his maternal aunt, N.W. M.G. did not appear in court, but consented to the transfer of custody via telephone. By her own admission, K.C. agreed to transfer custody to N.W. so that N.W. could get some sort of financial assistance, presumably from the government. It appears that neither K.C. nor M.G. ever had physical custody of Y. N.C.

In September 2006, K.C. gave birth to R. Shortly thereafter, the hospital transferred the baby to another hospital for specialized treatment. The hospital could not locate K.C., and she did not visit her baby at the hospital. On October 24, 2006, the court granted D.P. temporary legal and physical custody of R. In July 2007, K.C. — while apparently homeless — gave birth to J. It appears that M.G. may have been incarcerated at the time. On October 22, 2007, the court granted D.P. legal and physical custody of J. Neither parent was present in court.

At some point after May 2010, N.W. gave physical custody of Y. N.C. to K.C.'s sister, Ka.C. On September 9, 2010, the Division received a referral that K.C. and Ka.C. physically fought when K.C. tried removing Y. N.C. from her custody. A Division worker arrived to investigate and noticed that Ka.C. appeared intoxicated. The Division removed Y. N.C. and placed him in a Division-approved resource home. On or about September 13, 2010, the Division filed a complaint for removal and the court granted the Division legal and physical custody of Y. N.C. After several placements proved unsuccessful due to K.C.'s behavioral problems, on March 25, 2011, the Division placed Y. N.C. in his current resource home.

Meanwhile, on June 24, 2010, Meryl E. Udell, Psy. D., performed a psychological evaluation on K.C. Dr. Udell reported that K.C. "is not considered a safe or appropriate care giver to her child(ren) at this time[, ]" she may be homeless, is unemployed, "does not have any history of successful parenting[, ]" and "has not had her children in her care for quite a while." Based on several tests administered, Dr. Udell concluded that K.C. "did not know what year this was, " and is unable to safely parent a child due to her "poor insight and judgment, history of unstable housing[, ] . . . psychotic symptoms[, and] lack of basic understanding of parenting." Dr. Udell recommended that K.C. take parenting classes, and undergo psychiatric and individual counseling, but K.C. informed her that "it is against her religion to take . . . medication" or "to participate in therapeutic services."

Following K.C.'s completion of an eight-week parenting skills training program, on December 2, 2010, Abayomi Ige, M.D., who performed a psychiatric evaluation of K.C., reported that "[t]here is a striking and bewildering lack of insight in this young lady and her inability to relate a stable home environment and a continuous employment for the purpose of raising children." Dr. Ige concluded that while she has "no obvious diagnosable psychiatric illness, . . . she does not currently demonstrate the temperament and stability to raise her children."

In fact, at a December 13, 2010 fact-finding hearing, K.C. stipulated that she needed parenting skills training, anger management therapy, and a psychological evaluation. However, on February 2, 2011, K.C. was discharged from her anger management therapy because she "refuse[d] to address anything that she believes is not directly related to her current anger management." Her unwillingness to discuss certain matters stymied the therapeutic process. In the evaluator's opinion, K.C. "appears to have relied on other people to ...


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