July 3, 2023

July 2023

Mother appealed the judgment terminating her parental rights. She was referred to a variety of services by DCF for, inter alia, substance abuse, mental health treatment and parenting, but struggled to engage in those services. Following a trial, the court concluded that, although DCF had made reasonable efforts to reunify, and Mother eventually completed most of her services, she was unable or unwilling to benefit from those services.  She did not successfully complete a certain therapeutic program to which she had been referred, which provided a path to reunification, and she did not attend a psychological evaluation, which provided another path to reunification. The Court here held:

1. There was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding that DCF made reasonable efforts to reunify.  DCF provided Mother with a significant number of appropriate services and, although Mother claimed that she missed certain sessions of the therapeutic program to which she had been referred because DCF failed to provide childcare for her other minor child, there was no evidence that Mother ever requested such childcare assistance from DCF or sought an order to compel DCF to provide such assistance.  Moreover, Mother testified at trial that she lived with her mother and that her mother would often care for her other minor child when she needed to go to a meeting, or, if her mother was not available, that she could bring the other minor child with her to meetings, such that the evidence did not support Mother’s contention that DCF’s failure to provide childcare assistance prevented her from attending the therapeutic sessions.  Additionally, because the Court here determined that the record contained sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s reasonable efforts determination, it was not required to review that court’s secondary determination that Mother was unable or unwilling to benefit from DCF’s reunification efforts.

2. The trial court properly found that Mother failed to achieve sufficient personal rehabilitation.  In concluding that Mother failed to sufficiently rehabilitate, the trial court reasoned that the child required a consistent, rational, predictable and sober caregiver, and considered the fact that the child had had two bone fractures, the cause of which remained unexplained, that occurred while in the care of Mother and the child’s father.  Mother’s failure to complete certain services to which she had been referred was due to her inability to balance reunification efforts with her obligation to care for her other minor child, and, thus, she was not consistent or predictable.  Moreover, ample evidence supported the court’s finding that Mother’s failure to fully participate in the programs that could have assessed her potential for rehabilitation and assisted her in that endeavor was part of a broader pattern of delay and lack of engagement with her services. https://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Cases/AROap/AP220/220AP224.pdf