STATE OF LOUISIANAIN THE INTEREST OF R.W.H. V.
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
L. SANDERS, II Counsel for Appellee, Assistant District
Attorney State of Louisiana
COURTNEY W. FRANKLIN Counsel for Appellee, State of Louisiana
ACADIANA LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION By: Helen M. Marrs
Counsel for Appellee, R.W.H.V., Child
M. ADAMS Counsel for Appellee, C.H., Father
VARHONDA E. BURRELL Counsel for Appellee, P.V., Mother
WILLIAMS, PITMAN, and McCALLUM, JJ.
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.
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. 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.
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 tantrums and de-escalate her own emotions
first). 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
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 diagnosed with bipolar disorder,
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD"),
and post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD").
Calvin Walker, a physician with Brentwood Hospital, informed
a Family Services employee that J.M.E. had related to him
that R.W.H.V. would be removed from the home if he were to be
admitted for another hospital stay. The Family Services
employee informed Dr. Walker that this information was not
true, and he confronted J.M.E., who denied making the
statement to Dr. Walker. The Family Services worker also
learned that R.W.H.V.'s medical records showed that
J.M.E. had been providing information about the child's
behavior to medical providers that was inconsistent with the
observations of hospital personnel, physicians, and school
was reticent and resistant to follow the mental health
providers' recommendations for R.W.H.V. Beatrice Tatem,
his licensed professional counselor, and the treatment team
at Brentwood Hospital, opined that the parenting style of
J.M.E. and B.E. could be categorized as emotional
maltreatment, and the home with P.V., J.M.E., and B.E. did
not provide the most nurturing environment to meet
R.W.H.V.'s developmental needs.
requested custody of R.W.H.V. on May 16, 2017. An instanter
order removing the child was signed by the juvenile court
judge on May 17, 2017, and a continued custody hearing was
held on May 22, 2017. DCFS was ordered to work a plan of
reunification with J.M.E., and the court found that remaining
in the custody of DCFS was in the best interest of R.W.H.V.
Both J.M.E. and P.V. had case plans, which included goals ...