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In re Welfare of Child of B. E. R. R.

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

October 21, 2013

In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: B. E. R. R. and E. A. D., Parents.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

Beltrami County District Court File Nos. 04-JV-13-306; 04-JV-12-2726; 04-JV-13-51.

Arlen R. Larson, Bagley, Minnesota (for appellant mother).

George L. Duranske, III, Bemidji, Minnesota (for appellant father).

Timothy R. Faver, Beltrami County Attorney, Kristy Cariveau, Assistant County Attorney, Bemidji, Minnesota (for respondent).

Jose Hernandez, Bemidji, Minnesota (guardian ad litem).

Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.

CHUTICH, Judge.

Appellants B.E.R.R. and E.A.D. challenge the district court's decision terminating their parental rights to their child, E.D., asserting that the district court applied the wrong standard of proof, the timelines to complete the case plan were unreasonable, and Beltrami County did not use reasonable efforts to reunify the family. Appellants further contest the district court's determination that clear-and-convincing evidence supported adjudicating their other daughter, A.D., as a child in need of protection or services. Because clear and convincing evidence supports the district court's termination decision, and because substantial evidence supports the district court's adjudication of A.D. as a child in need of protection or services, we affirm.

FACTS

E.D. was born June 11, 2010, to appellant mother B.E.R.R. and appellant father E.A.D. Because B.E.R.R. needed help caring for E.D., B.E.R.R.'s mother lived with B.E.R.R. and E.A.D. for almost all of the time E.D. was in B.E.R.R.'s care. In August 2011, Polk County Social Services received a child-protection report from a medical facility that B.E.R.R. was using marijuana and Oxycodone. Polk County attempted to provide services to B.E.R.R., but, after one conversation with her, was not able to get in contact with B.E.R.R. again. From November 2011 to March 2012, E.A.D. was in prison.

In May 2012, E.A.D. assaulted B.E.R.R.'s mother when E.D. was present, and as a result, B.E.R.R.'s mother went to a women's shelter. Beltrami County Health and Human Services received a child-protection report concerning the assault. Because B.E.R.R. was so reliant on her mother's care for E.D., B.E.R.R. brought E.D. to the shelter and left her with B.E.R.R.'s mother. E.A.D. was charged with domestic assault and convicted of disorderly conduct.

In July 2012, the family, including B.E.R.R.'s mother, became homeless and stayed in various hotels. Beltrami County Health and Human Services received two child-protection reports that month, alleging drug use by both parents and possible physical abuse of the child by E.A.D. On July 9, 2012, E.D.'s parents brought her to urgent care claiming that she had been hit in the face while at a friend's home. B.E.R.R.'s mother testified at trial, however, that E.A.D. hit E.D.

On August 7, 2012, the car B.E.R.R. and E.A.D. were traveling in was stopped by Pike Bay Police Chief Zebulon Hemsworth. E.D. was in the car with them, not fastened in her car seat. Chief Hemsworth saw B.E.R.R. "inappropriately yelling" at E.D., and B.E.R.R. told him that "she was having a difficult time not beating" the child. The police found several prescription bottles in the car, two in B.E.R.R.'s name and one bottle of Oxycodone in the name of B.E.R.R.'s mother, as well as other evidence of drug use, including a pill cutter, syringe needles, alcohol pads, bandages, and a spoon. Chief Hemsworth also observed small marks above the veins on both of B.E.R.R.'s arms, consistent with needle marks. B.E.R.R. was arrested and later charged with felony possession of a controlled substance.

After B.E.R.R. was arrested, E.D. went with her father to the hotel where they were staying. B.E.R.R.'s mother, accompanied by Chief Hemsworth, picked E.D. up from the hotel out of concern for E.D.'s safety. The chief observed that E.A.D.'s eyes were red and watery, leading him to believe E.A.D. was under the influence of marijuana. B.E.R.R.'s mother was homeless at this time, and she and E.D. eventually went to a women's shelter.

On August 13, 2012, Beltrami County Health and Human Services picked up E.D. from the shelter and placed her in protective care. Beltrami County petitioned for E.D. to be found a child in need of protection or services (CHIPS). B.E.R.R. was in jail from August 7 to August 20, and August 27 to October 5, stemming from her August 7 arrest and other criminal charges. E.A.D. was in jail for parts of September and October 2012, serving a sentence for disorderly conduct.

B.E.R.R. and E.A.D. admitted that E.D. was a child in need of protection or services on November 1, 2012. B.E.R.R. and E.A.D.'s case plan required that they: (a) provide safe and stable housing free of drugs and alcohol; (b) complete diagnostic assessments and follow all recommendations; (c) complete chemical dependency assessments and follow all recommendations; (d) participate in a parenting class; (e) refrain from the use of alcohol, non-prescribed controlled substances, and illegal drugs, and submit to random urinalysis or other drug testing; (f) sign all necessary authorizations and releases for the child and themselves; (g) cooperate with Beltrami County and the Guardian ad Litem; (h) allow random access to their place of residence ...


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