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State ex rel. R.W.H.V.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

September 25, 2019

STATE of Louisiana IN the INTEREST OF R.W.H.V.

Page 801

          Appealed from the Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Ouachita, Louisiana, Trial Court No. 21,710, Honorable Sharon I. Marchman, Judge.

          FREDERICK D. JONES, Counsel for Appellant, J.M.E., Grandmother.

          JOHNNY L. SANDERS, II, Assistant District Attorney, Counsel for Appellee, State of Louisiana.

          COURTNEY W. FRANKLIN, Counsel for Appellee, State of Louisiana DCFS.

          ACADIANA LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION, By: Helen M. Marrs Counsel for Appellee, R.W.H.V., Child.

         LAYNE M. ADAMS, Counsel for Appellee, C.H., Father.

          VARHONDA E. BURRELL, Counsel for Appellee, P.V., Mother.

         Before WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and McCALLUM, JJ.

         OPINION

         WILLIAMS, C.J.

         [53,065 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] In this child in need of care ("CINC") proceeding, the grandmother appeals a trial court judgment that changed the permanent case plan goal for the minor child from reunification to adoption.

          FACTS

         In July 2016, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") received a report of emotional maltreatment of R.W.H.V., then five years old, and his sister, T.V., by their maternal grandmother, J.M.E. The children shared a home with J.M.E., their mother, P.V., and their great-grandmother, B.E. As of that date, R.W.H.V. had been hospitalized at Brentwood Hospital, a psychiatric facility, four times in the past two months. The medical professionals had concerns of emotional abuse and dysfunction in the family.

Page 802

Doctors noted that R.W.H.V. was not being allowed to be a child, and that J.M.E.’s complaints about his behavior were unfounded. It was also noted that J.M.E. used extreme and inappropriate methods to discipline R.W.H.V. and his sister, such as feeding R.W.H.V. horseradish, hot sauce, and vinegar as a form of punishment. During one hospitalization, R.W.H.V. was diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder ("ODD") based upon his behavior as reported by grandmother, and he was prescribed strong psychotropic medications typically given only to adults.

         The family was referred to the Family Services Unit of DCFS in September 2016 to work toward resolution of the family’s problems, which seemed to center around grandmother. Other in-home service providers also assisted, providing grandmother with therapy and instruction on coping skills and parenting practices (specifically discipline and how to deal with [53,065 La.App. 2');">065 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] tantrums and de-escalate her own emotions first).[1] These providers included the Family Services Unit, Ekayah Youth Services, Wraparound of Northeast Louisiana, People United, and the Family Resource Center. The providers reported that grandmother struggled to handle the children’s behavior, often calling the instructors to request assistance, and she had trouble applying the recommendations of the providers’ plans designed to help her manage R.W.H.V.’s behavior. The providers reported that J.M.E. consistently over-corrected R.W.H.V. for age-appropriate behavior.

         In December 2016, J.M.E. called R.W.H.V.’s then-treating psychiatrist, claiming that the child was hitting and kicking other family members and slamming his head into the wall. She related that she was unable to calm R.W.H.V. and was advised to give him anti-psychotic medication. J.M.E. took R.W.H.V. to the emergency room four separate times due to his behavior. On May 10, 2017, after J.M.E. claimed that R.W.H.V. was having emotional/behavioral issues, he was again admitted to Brentwood Hospital and ...


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