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New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. C.B.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 15, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
C.B., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF T.H., A Minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 22, 2013.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket No. FG-09-174-11.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Steven J. Kossup, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Glenn T. Graham, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor (Jeffrey R. Jablonski, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Simonelli and Accurso.

PER CURIAM.

Defendant C.B. appeals from a June 14, 2012 final judgment terminating her parental rights to her child, Tracy.[2] Tracy's father's parental rights were also terminated in the same guardianship proceeding. He has not appealed the judgment, however, and we confine our discussion to C.B. C.B. contends that the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) failed to prove that Tracy's safety, health, or development has been endangered by her parental relationship or that the Division made reasonable efforts to provide services to help C.B. correct the circumstances which led to Tracy's placement. She claims that the court should have ordered kinship legal guardianship (KLG) instead of terminating her parental rights. The Law Guardian supported termination. We reject C.B.'s arguments and affirm essentially for the reasons expressed by Judge Mark J. Nelson in his thorough and thoughtful written opinion of June 14, 2012.

C.B. came to the attention of the Division in June 2008, when Tracy was two years old. Hudson County Social Services reported that C.B. had tested positive for PCP in connection with her application for welfare assistance. C.B. admitted to using PCP, but claimed she had not done so for several months. The Division also learned that Tracy suffered from sickle cell anemia and was receiving treatment at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. The Division developed an in-home case plan and was continuously involved with the family after that date.

Tracy was removed from C.B.'s care in March 2010 when C.B. tested positive for PCP. The court ordered supervised visitation for C.B. and ordered her to submit to random urine screening and undergo a substance abuse evaluation. C.B. tested positive for PCP in her first random screen and continued to test positive for PCP throughout the course of the litigation. Tracy remained in the Division's custody through trial.

On September 1, 2010, C.B. was accepted into the Medical and Social Services for the Homeless (MASSH) substance abusers outpatient program. Although it was a six-month program, C.B. was terminated from the program after thirty days for excessive absences. C.B. had also tested positive for PCP all five times she was tested during her enrollment. The judge ordered C.B. to submit to a psychiatric evaluation, a substance abuse assessment, and comply with individual counseling and parenting skills training. C.B. failed to appear for her substance abuse assessment but submitted to a psychiatric evaluation with Dr. Samiris Sostre on May 20, 2011.

Dr. Sostre reported that C.B. "had difficulty throughout the interview maintaining a coherent line of events." The doctor also noted that C.B. denied PCP use despite many positive drug screens. Dr. Sostre characterized C.B.'s mental state as paranoid based on C.B. having advised the doctor that C.B.'s ex-boyfriend's family wanted to kill her, that she was unsafe, and needed to "call the mayor and the President of the United States." The doctor diagnosed C.B. as suffering from a psychotic disorder. She recommended that C.B. attend a MICA (mentally ill/chemical abuse) program where her mental health needs and substance abuse problem could be addressed simultaneously. The doctor also advised that C.B. start anti-psychotic medication and be followed regularly by a psychiatrist.

In the months following, the Division referred C.B. to a MICA program which she refused to attend. C.B. also failed to appear for several substance abuse assessments and tested positive for ...


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