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In re I. N.

Court of Appeals of Oregon

May 29, 2014

In the Matter of I. N., a Child. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner-Respondent,
G. N., Appellant

Argued and Submitted March 18, 2014

Douglas County Circuit Court. 1100253. Petition Number 11JU193. Julie A. Zuver, Judge pro tempore.

Sarah Peterson, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the brief was Peter Gartlan, Chief Defender, Office of Public Defense Services.

Cecil A. Reniche-Smith, Senior Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General.

Before Sercombe, Presiding Judge, and Hadlock, Judge, and Tookey, Judge.


Page 729

[263 Or.App. 288] TOOKEY, J.

Father appeals from a judgment of the juvenile court determining that the permanency plan for father's 10-year-old daughter, I, should be changed from reunification to " another planned permanent living arrangement" (APPLA), specifically, long-term foster care.[1] Father challenges the change to APPLA, asserting that the juvenile court erred in concluding that efforts by the Department of Human Services (DHS) toward reunification were reasonable and that, despite those efforts, father's progress toward reunification was insufficient.

Father does not ask us to exercise our discretion to review the record de novo, and we conclude that this is not an exceptional case that justifies de novo review. See ORAP 5.40(8)(c), (d). Accordingly, in reviewing the juvenile court's judgment, we " view the evidence, as supplemented and buttressed by permissible derivative inferences, in the light most favorable to the [juvenile] court's disposition and assess whether, when so viewed, the record was legally sufficient to permit that outcome." Dept. of Human Services v. N. P., 257 Or.App. 633, 639, 307 P.3d 444 (2013). We conclude, based on this record, that there is legally sufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's determination that DHS's efforts were reasonable and that father has not made sufficient progress to allow the child to safely return home. ORS 419B.476(2)(a). We therefore affirm the juvenile court's determination that the plan for the child should be changed to APPLA.

The child lived with her mother until 2009, when her mother died and she came into father's custody. In March 2010, father and stepmother married, and father and the child moved in with stepmother and her four children. There was tension between father and the stepchildren.[2]

Page 730

[263 Or.App. 289] Father has a history of alcohol abuse and domestic violence when intoxicated. DHS first became involved with the family after an incident of domestic violence in May 2010, when father hurt the child, the child's stepmother, and two of the child's stepsiblings. As a result of that conduct, father was convicted of felony and misdemeanor assault and was ordered to complete a 54-week domestic violence treatment program as a condition of probation. Father was within one week of completion of the program when he was suspended from it in June 2011, after committing another act of domestic violence.

DHS took the children into protective custody in July 2011, and the juvenile court took jurisdiction over the child in September 2011. [3] The child and three of the stepsiblings were placed into foster care with stepmother's mother. The child did not want to see father, and his visits with her did not begin until April 2012. In June 2012, after three months of individual counseling, father began the domestic violence treatment program again. Also in 2012, father and stepmother engaged in and successfully completed in-home parent training. At the completion of parent training in August 2012, the parent educator reported that parents showed " marked improvement" with empathy, and recommended reunification, conditioned on the parents' participation in mental health services to address their own childhood traumas. The parent educator also stated that " [f]amily counseling will be vital if this reunification is to be successful[.]" In a permanency order of September 2012, the juvenile court ordered that, by March 2013, father participate in and make progress in " intensive family counseling."

All of the family members were participating in various forms of counseling. By December 2012, Douglas County had begun the process of implementing family counseling through counseling sessions with the parents and the children separately, but meetings with the parents and the [263 Or.App. 290] children together did not begin immediately. The child had a family counseling session with a therapist, Sprague, and parents in April 2013, which Sprague reported went well. Sprague and parents also had family counseling sessions with each of the other children separately, but after a session with parents and Ke, in which ...

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