NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
S.C. and H.B., Defendants-Appellants IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF D.H.B. and D.D.B., Minors
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 15, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Morris County, Docket No. FG-14-78-11.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant S.C. (Gilbert G. Miller, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant H.B. (Dianne Glenn, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Edward J. Mullins, III, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors D.H.B. and D.D.B. (Christopher A. Huling, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Before: Judges Parrillo, Harris, and Guadagno.
In these consolidated matters, S.C. and H.B. appeal the termination of their parental rights to their two sons, D.H.B. and D.D.B. We affirm.
S.C. is the mother and H.B. is the father of D.H.B, born on August 30, 2001, and D.D.B., born on March 16, 2004. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) received approximately nine child welfare referrals regarding the family between December 11, 2004, and April 6, 2010. In 2007 alone, there were three referrals alleging that S.C. was taking the children to a bar with her; was driving drunk with them in the vehicle; was taking pills, such as Xanax; was not feeding the children; was taking them to see H.B. despite him abusing her; and was living in a home with no electricity, running water, or heat. In 2009, there were three more referrals alleging S.C. was using heroin; the home was shot at by drug dealers for retribution; the boys were not enrolled in school, not dressed warm for the winter weather, and they were living in a motel from which the family was about to be evicted.
All of these referrals were investigated and deemed "unfounded" for abuse and neglect of the children, but services were offered to the family. However, the Division did substantiate neglect in the case of the two most recent referrals. On February 6, 2010, the Division received a referral from the Hanover Township Police complaining that the family was living in a motel room in "complete disarray and in deplorable condition." There was an overpowering smell of urine, feces, and dog. There was rotten food and garbage throughout the room rendering it impossible to walk. The toilet was broken and stuffed with towels that were soaked in urine and feces, and there was no access to the sink or shower. S.C., however, had not permitted anyone to enter the room and fix the toilet. In addition, needle caps were found in the room, but not needles. S.C. was arrested for outstanding warrants, but released on her own recognizance.
The Division substantiated neglect against S.C. for inadequate shelter and kept the case open for supervision. The children were not removed at the time.
Two months later, on April 6, 2010, the Division received the ninth referral regarding S.C., which led to the removal of the children. Police had responded to reports that the children were left alone in the motel room with an angry pit bull. After gaining access to the room, police found S.C.'s adult brother (D.C.) hiding inside, to avoid arrest for outstanding warrants. D.C. was then arrested. After some difficulty finding and contacting S.C., police arrested her for outstanding warrants.
The Division's investigation found the motel room in the same deplorable state as before. In addition, there were prescription bottles in the room not prescribed to S.C. S.C. was substantiated for neglect due to inadequate supervision and inadequate shelter. The ...