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In re Children of Troy P.

Supreme Court of Maine

December 30, 2019

IN RE CHILDREN OF TROY P.

          Submitted On Briefs: December 17, 2019

          Vicki Mathews, Esq., Scarborough, for appellant Father

          Deborah Munson Feagans, Esq., Gorham, for appellant Mother

          Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General, and Meghan Szylvian, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee Department of Health and Human Services

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM

         [¶1] Troy P., the father, and Paige D., the mother, appeal from a judgment of the District Court (Portland, Eggert, J.) terminating their parental rights to their three children.[1] Both parents contend that the evidence is insufficient to support the court's findings of parental unfitness. The mother also challenges the finding that she failed to make a good faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with the children. The father also challenges, among other things, the court's determination that the termination of his parental rights was in the best interests of the children. We affirm the judgment.

         [¶2] In its judgment terminating the mother's and father's parental rights, the court made the following findings of fact:

Following the previous Child Protection proceeding being dismissed with the custody of the children being returned from the Department to [the] Mother, a Parental Rights and Responsibilities Order was put in place which required that Father have no unsupervised contact with the children. Mother and the children moved to Portland from a shelter in Ellsworth with the assistance of Father and initially stayed in a motel with Father. Upon running out of money and help from a friend, they all had to rely for a short time upon staying with friends, then they ended up homeless and on the streets of Portland. On May 23, 2018 the parents called DHHS to report that they would be sleeping on the streets that night and had no place to go ... . Right away the Department filed for a Preliminary Protection Order which was granted. The children were placed in foster care within a week with the foster parents where they are still residing.
On June 4, 2018 the parents waived their right to a Summary Preliminary Hearing and the Preliminary Order remained in effect pending the Case Management conference on July 2, 2018 at which time the case was continued to September 4, 2018 for Trial Management Conference. On that date the parents agreed to the entry of a Jeopardy Order. The Court found that "Jeopardy as to each parent is based upon the following factors: the parents have prior child protective history regarding these children. [The two older children] were previously in custody and the cases were dismissed in 2017, upon entry of [a] Parental Rights and Responsibilities Order, with a provision for supervised contact for the father. More recently, the mother and father moved with the children to the Portland area, without a place to live. The parents were unable to make a plan to keep the children safe. The father has a number of serious mental health issues . . . which put the children at risk of harm." After the entry of the Jeopardy Order Rehabilitation and Reunification plans were developed for both parents.
Father was known to have serious mental health issues and he was required to complete a mental health evaluation, follow all recommendations, and consistently engage in mental health treatment. He was to arrange for safe and stable housing for the children. He was also required to attend regular visitation with the children. [The] father has failed to meet any of these requirements.
Early in the case he had at least one visit with the children, but then indicated he was done with the Department including any visitation. In March 2019 he changed his mind on that and had one visit after which [the two older children] severely acted out and visits were stopped as to them, and [the] father refused to visit with [the youngest child] alone. No visits have since occurred. Father is presently living with a friend in Bath in a situation which he agrees would not constitute safe and stable housing for the children. Father has not been consistently engaging in mental health treatment and taking medications which would treat his mental health issues. He indicated a refusal to do so. Father has not been able to follow the conditions of his rehabilitation and is unlikely to do so in the immediate future.
Mother was to obtain a mental health assessment and follow any recommendations and to consistently engage in mental health treatment. She was to provide a safe and stable home for the children. She was to participate in supervised visitation with the children. Mother testified that she is unwilling to engage in counseling because she has been doing that for fourteen years and it has not helped her.[2] She is presently living with a friend in South Portland and his mother. Mother agrees that this housing is not a safe and stable home for the children. She has started working and claimed to be able to provide such a home in the future, but the Court does not find that this will occur in a time reasonably calculated to meet the needs of the children. Mother has been recently visiting with the children on a supervised basis. She has been unable to progress to a check in basis of supervision at which a supervisor could leave for a period and check in from time to time. The supervisor does not find it safe at this time to leave the children alone with her. Mother has not been able to follow the conditions of her rehabilitation and is unlikely to be able to do so in a time frame calculated to meet the needs of the children.
... The level of care for the two [older] children is intensive and likely beyond the capability of the Mother and Father. It is in [the two older children's] best interest to remain with [their foster mother]. [Their foster mother] expressed a ...

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