IN THE MATTER OF:
B.O. Buncombe County
No. 05 J 145
Matthew J. Middleton for petitioner-appellee, Buncombe County
Department of Social Services.
Attorney Advocate Jerry W. Miller for appellee, Guardian ad Litem Program.
Michael E. Casterline for respondent-appellant.
When sufficient findings of fact, supported by competent evidence, support the conclusion that placement and guardianship of a child is in the best interest of the child, such placement must be sustained.
The Buncombe County Department of Social Services (DSS) received a report in March of 2005 that B.O. and her older half- sister lived in unsanitary conditions in the home of their mother (respondent). Upon visiting respondent's home on three occasions, a social worker observed the substandard condition of the home, which did not meet minimum standards for safety. B.O. and her half-sister were put in a kinship placement. On 1 April 2005, DSSfiled a petition alleging B.O. was neglected. The juvenile petition alleged that DSS had substantiated previous reports of neglect on respondent in 2000 and 2003, that respondent had not made much progress in cleaning her home, and that respondent had exhibited paranoid and strange behavior during the March 2005 home assessment .
Both respondent and the minor child were appointed their own guardian ad litem. By order entered 30 June 2005, the trial court adjudicated the minor child neglected . The trial court found that the biological father of the minor child was unknown and continued the minor child's kinship placement. The trial court ordered respondent to complete a psychological evaluation, comply with recommendations, remove clutter in her home, and maintain its cleanliness. At the August 2005 review hearing, the trial court granted DSS non-secure custody of the minor child and her half- sister. The minor child and her half-sister were subsequently put in a kinship placement with Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton .
After holding a review hearing in January 2006, the trial court concluded that it was not possible to return the minor child to respondent's home within the next six months due to the chronic mental health problems of the respondent mother and inconsistent compliance of the respondent mother with court ordered services. The trial court sanctioned the Hamilton's home for temporary placement of the minor child and ordered the permanent plan changed from reunification with respondent to guardianship with a court approved caretaker. By review order entered 28 June 2006, the trial court found that T.C. Wilsdon, father of the minor child's half-sister, had relocated to Buncombe County, would like to pursue custody of the minor child and her sibling[,] and has been involved in the life of the minor child[.] The trial court ordered that Mr. Wilsdon be allowed extended visitation once his completed psychological evaluation was approved by the Department and, upon an approved home study, that Mr. Wilsdon be allowed overnight visits with the minor child and her half-sibling. The trial court entered another review order on 11 August 2006 and found that Mr. Wilsdon's home study was favorable and that he had completed his psychological evaluation. The trial court concluded that it is in the best interest of the minor child that the court will sanction a transition of the minor child from the home of the Hamiltons to the home of Mr. Wilsdon. On 30 August 2006, the trial court entered a permanency planning order granting guardianship of the minor child to Mr. Wilsdon. From this order, respondent appeals.
In her sole argument on appeal, respondent contends the trial court did not make sufficient findings of fact as required by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907 to support its conclusion that placement and guardianship with Mr. Wilsdon is in the best interest of the child. We disagree.
North Carolina General Statute section 7B-907 provides in pertinent part:
(b) . . . At the conclusion of the [permanency planning] hearing, if the juvenile is not returned home, the court shall consider thefollowing criteria and make written findings regarding those that are relevant:
(1) Whether it is possible for the juvenile to be returned home immediately or within the next six months, and if not, why it is not in the juvenile's best interests to return home;
(2) Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether legal guardianship or custody with a relative or some other suitable person should be established, and if so, the rights and responsibilities which should remain with the parents;
(3) Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether adoption should be pursued and if so, any barriers to the juvenile's adoption;
(4) Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether the juvenile should remain in the current placement or be placed in another permanent living arrangement and why;
(5) Whether the county department of social services has since the initial permanency plan hearing made reasonable efforts to implement the permanent plan for the juvenile;
(6) Any other criteria the court deems necessary.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b)(2005). A permanency planning order need not contain a formal listing of the § 7B-907(b)(1)-(6) factors, expressly denominated as such . . . [as long as the trial court makes] written findings regarding the relevant § 7B-907(b) factors. In re J.C.S., 164 N.C. App. 96, 106, 595 S.E.2d 155, 161 (2004). Appellate review of a permanency planning order is limited to whether there is competent evidence in the record to support the findings and the findings support the conclusions of law. Id. In this case we must determine whether the trial judgemade sufficient findings of fact to support the entry of the permanent plan of guardianship.
Findings of fact eleven through twenty-four meet the requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907 because they state: (1) [i]t is not possible to return the minor child to the home of the respondent mother within the next six months due to the chronic mental health problems of respondent mother and her inconsistent compliance with court orders; (2) that the Hamiltons remain committed to the minor child and her sibling and to Mr. Wilsdon and are willing to provide ongoing support for him and the girls[,] and Mrs. Hamilton is very comfortable with going ahead and giving Mr. Wilsdon custody of [the sibling] and guardianship of [the minor child]; (3) DSS recommended that the best plan to achieve permanency for the minor child is guardianship with Mr. Wilsdon[,] and the guardian ad litem recommended that it was in the best interest of the minor child that permanent guardianship of the minor child be granted to Mr. Wilsdon; (4) DSS made reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the minor child from the home[,] but removal was necessary to protect the safety and health of the child[;] (5) [e]fforts to place the minor child in the home of the respondent mother clearly would be futile or be inconsistent with the minor child's health, safety and need for a safe, permanent home within a reasonable period of time[;] and (6) [t]he minor child has gone to the beach with Mr. Wilsdon and has spent several nights with him[,] and Mr. Wilsdon has had a relationship with the minor child since she was born. These findings clearly meet the requirements of the statute, and support the court's conclusion of law that Mr. Wilsdon is capable of providing proper care and supervision of the minor child in a safe home and that granting Mr. Wilsdon guardianship of the minor child is in the best interest of the minor child. This argument is without merit.
Respondent has not argued her remaining assignments of error in her brief, and they are deemed abandoned. N.C. R. App. P. 28(b)(6).
Judges GEER and LEVINSON concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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