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New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services v. E.D.H.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

July 17, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
E.D.H., Defendant-Appellant, and D.B., Defendant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF J.Z.H., Minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 23, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FG-07-130-11.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Sigrid S. Franzblau, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent New Jersey Division of Youth & Family Services (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Lisa Rusciano, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for J.Z.H. (Hector Ruiz, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Alvarez and St. John. [1]

PER CURIAM

Defendant E.D.H., whom we will refer to as Elaine to preserve anonymity and for ease of reference, appeals the termination of her parental rights to her son, J.H., whom we will refer to as James. James was born December 12, 2009, when Elaine was seventeen years old and herself in the care and supervision of plaintiff the Division of Youth and Family Services (the Division). James's father, D.B., did not appear at trial and does not appeal entry of the judgment against him. We affirm.

The Division received custody, care and supervision of James six days after his birth, and placed him in a foster home. He has never lived with his mother. The Division eventually filed a complaint for guardianship, and the trial was conducted March 22 and March 23, 2012. Elaine appeared only on the morning of the first day of trial. She presented no witnesses.

After hearing summations on April 4, 2012, Judge Garry J. Furnari rendered a comprehensive and cogent decision from the bench. We affirm principally for the reasons stated by Judge Furnari, and briefly comment on only two points raised on appeal.

The record establishes that Elaine was placed in foster care on April 30, 2008, due to her mother's incarceration. She was still in foster care on the date of trial. She has lived in about five foster homes, three different group homes, and with various friends and relatives. She is a chronic runaway, having left foster as well as institutional placements. When evaluated, Elaine was found to be clinically depressed, to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, to have been the victim of physical and sexual abuse, and to have only borderline intellectual functioning along with limited literacy skills. She lacks insight into her circumstances, and rejected all efforts at treatment.

Elaine, during the multiple evaluations conducted at the Division's request, although expressing the best intentions towards James, did not seem aware of her own challenges, or of the steps required to live independently with her child. In 2010, Elaine again became pregnant and left the program in which she was living even though she had been advised that running away would have a negative impact on any prospect of reunification with James.

By January 2011, Elaine refused to return to the last program in which she had been placed, although a bed was still available. She also told her caseworkers that she would not participate in any services besides visitation and parenting classes. Elaine had no plan for reunification, even though the Division ...


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