from the Caddo Parish Juvenile Court Juvenile Division -
First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo,
Louisiana Trial Court No. 150, 385 Honorable Paul Young,
ARTHUR CARRELL In Proper Person
& GILLEY By: Patricia D. Gilley Counsel for Mother-
DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES By: Kimberly S.
Smith Counsel for State- Appellee
ADVOCACY PROGRAM By: Nancy G. Cooper Counsel for Child-
WILLIAM A. HAYNES Counsel for Father- Appellee
BROWN, DREW, and PITMAN, JJ.
child in need of care proceeding, the mother has appealed
from a juvenile court judgment that (1) denied the
mother's motion to modify a previously entered
disposition and a permanency hearing judgment, both of which
placed her child in the legal custody of the child's
adult brother; and (2) granted the child's motion for
guardianship. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the
judgment of the juvenile court.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
who was 11 years old, was removed from her mother K.A.'s
custody on August 8, 2014, based on allegations that K.K. was
a child in need of care pursuant to La. Ch. C. art. 606(A)
due to neglect, lack of supervision and inadequate shelter.
Because of instances of domestic violence between the mother
and her ex-husband, he had secured a restraining order
against her. After a recent altercation, the mother was
arrested and detained overnight for violation of the
restraining order. Because the mother and her daughter had
been kicked out of the home they had previously shared with
the mother's ex-husband, the child was forced to find a
place to stay with neighbors while her mother was in custody.
Also included in the child in need of care allegations were
concerns about the effects that the mother's neglect of
her mental health issues had on the child.
child was placed in the custody of the Louisiana Department
of Children and Family Services ("DCFS"). A
continued custody hearing was held on August 12, 2014. The
juvenile court vacated the custody of the DCFS and granted
custody of K.K. to her adult brother, Chad Cherry, a resident
of Colorado, pursuant to La. Ch. C. art.
October 24, 2014, after an evidentiary hearing, the mother
stipulated that the child was a child in need of care. The
juvenile court accepted the stipulation and adjudicated the
child as a child in need of care under Title VI of the
Louisiana Children's Code.
disposition hearing was held on November 21, 2014. The
juvenile court found that the child continued to be in need
of care and entered a judgment of disposition which,
inter alia, maintained custody of the child with her
brother and listed reunification as the case plan goal. The
court minutes also show that the judge entered an order
allowing the mother to communicate with the child via text
messaging and by telephoning the mother once every other
motion for modification of visitation filed by counsel for
the child on March 12, 2015, it was alleged that the phone
calls and texts from the mother were adversarial in nature
and stressful to the child. Attached to the motion was a copy
of a letter in support from the child's counselor in
Colorado. After a contradictory hearing held on March 31,
2015, the visitation order was revised to allow contact
between the child and the mother only if or when initiated by
permanency hearing was held on August 6, 2015. The DCFS
report to the court indicated that the mother had secured
housing and employment. The mother advised the court that she
had begun counseling with a new therapist, Shari Moncla, and
her counsel requested additional time during which her client
could demonstrate compliance with her case plan. The juvenile
court agreed to give the mother additional time before
closing the case and declined to approve reunification as a
case plan goal at that time. Thus, the "Permanency/Case
Review Judgment" rendered on August 19, 2015, did not
contain a ruling setting forth the court's findings
regarding the permanent plan that it considered to be in the
best interest of the child. The court set the matter for a
case review hearing on October 29, 2015.
was adduced at the review hearing on October 29, 2015. The
mother's attorney filed a motion for a continuance and an
objection to the latest case plan filed by the DCFS; this
plan had as its goal guardianship with the child's older
brother rather than reunification with the mother. The motion
for continuance was granted, and the matter was reset for a
review hearing on December 11, 2015.
review hearing, counsel for the mother filed a motion to
modify disposition pursuant to La. Ch. C. art. 714. In her
motion, the mother reiterated her objection to the latest
case plan proposed by DCFS, and asserted that her counselor
was available to testify as to her significant progress in
treatment. Attorneys for the other parties sought a
continuance as they were served with the motion and
supporting memorandum in court. The matter was reset, and the
parties were informed ...