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

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 4, 2013

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES, [1] Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
C.C., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF K.C., a minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 25, 2013

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Burlington County, Docket No. FG-03-17-11.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant C.C. (Howard B. Tat, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Nora P. Pearce, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor K.C. (Sean Lardner, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Sabatino.

PER CURIAM.

C.C. is the biological mother of K.C., born October 26, 2008. She appeals from the June 22, 2012 judgment entered by the Family Part, following a bench trial, terminating her parental rights to K.C. On appeal, she argues the evidence presented by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency ("the Division") was insufficient to satisfy the third prong of the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1a. We disagree and affirm.

Immediately after K.C.'s birth in October 2008, hospital staff contacted the Division expressing concern that C.C., who was developmentally delayed and receiving assistance from the Division of Developmental Disabilities, could not properly care for C.C. Hospital staff reported that C.C. was not following feeding directions and other directions related to the care of her newborn. The Division responded by providing nursing and psychological services to C.C.

The Division received a second referral in April 2009, after K.C. had been admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia ("CHOP"), where she was diagnosed as suffering from a liver disease, which required constant care and medication administered in a particular manner. It was reported to the Division that C.C. had been unable to properly administer the medication. Other concerns expressed by hospital staff included that K.C. had to be placed on a special diet, administered nine to eleven different medications each day, her caregiver had to be able to recognize symptoms of liver complications and be able to seek prompt medical attention if required.

Based upon these reports, the Division sought and received a court order on April 7, 2009, granting it care and custody of K.C., but the Division returned the child to C.C. on May 15, 2009. However, three months later, the Division filed an amended complaint for custody based upon C.C.'s failure to follow recommendations from the nurse assigned to care for K.C. and her failure to permit the nurse to see K.C. on several occasions. The court entered an order granting custody of K.C. to the Division. Thereafter, the Division was unsuccessful in placing K.C. with relatives or friends because the prospective caregivers failed to timely comply with the Division's procedural requirements, and no other persons were identified or came forward as potential placement options.

From the inception of its involvement with C.C., the Division recommended numerous services to her, including early intervention and a psychological evaluation, which was performed by Dr. Gregory Gambone, who recommended a psychiatric evaluation, parenting skills training, anger management, individual and family therapy, as well a vocational assessment. The Division arranged for C.C. to undergo therapy with Dr. Fred Gross and also referred C.C. to the Citizen Advocacy Group (CAG). Notwithstanding these referrals, C.C. did not follow through with CAG, advising that she did not need its services. She missed four of her last eight weekly individual counseling sessions, despite having made significant progress earlier. She advised Dr. Gross that she did not believe she needed further therapy.

Trial on the guardianship complaint commenced in June 2012. C.C. did not appear but was represented by counsel. C.C. advised her guardian ad litem that she had a hernia and was hospitalized at Beth Israel Hospital in Irvington. The court reached out to the hospital but was unable to confirm C.C.'s admission. The Division presented Dr. Linda Jeffrey, who performed the bonding evaluation between the foster mother and ...


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