APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON FAMILY COURT HONORABLE DOLLY WISMAN BERRY, JUDGE ACTION NOS. 11-AD-500324 AND 11-AD-500325
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lambert, Judge:
RENDERED: FEBRUARY 1, 2013; 10:00 A.M.
BEFORE: DIXON, LAMBERT, AND TAYLOR, JUDGES.
C.A.W. and T.L.M. appeal from the Jefferson Family Court's order terminating their parental rights to their children, B.L.M. and S.M.M. After careful review, we affirm the trial court's orders terminating C.A.W. and T.L.M.'s parental rights.
The instant action commenced on September 7, 2011, when the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (the Cabinet) filed a petition for the involuntary termination of parental rights against C.A.W., the mother, and T.L.M., the father.*fn1 The trial of the termination action was held on February 28, 2012, and the trial court entered findings of fact and conclusions of law and orders terminating the parental rights of both parents to both children on April 11, 2012.
At trial, the Cabinet presented evidence that on or about September 23, 2009, and again on February 8, 2010, the Cabinet filed verified dependency action petitions regarding B.L.M. and S.M.M., alleging that the children were abused and neglected children within the meaning of Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 600.020(1). The September 23, 2009, petition alleged substantial neglect of the children. The children had been left unsupervised, without adequate food, and the parents acknowledged that their own substance abuse issues limited their ability to appropriately care for the children. At the time of this petition, B.L.M. was almost four years old, and S.M.M. was just two. The father admitted that the children were not fed breakfast or lunch, and the mother stated that she fed the children only when they said they were hungry. As a result of this petition, the children were placed temporarily with an aunt.
In the second petition filed in February 2010, the allegations involved physical abuse of S.M.M., lack of supervision of both children, and the parents' substance abuse issues. At this time, B.L.M. was four-and-a-half and S.M.M. was three years old. S.M.M. was examined for sexual abuse due to her sexually acting out, and the physician noted an imprint on the side of her ear that had been inflicted about four days earlier. The father tested positive for cocaine, and the mother tested positive for alcohol use. At the temporary removal hearing on February 11, 2010, the trial court placed the children in the temporary custody of the Cabinet, in whose care and custody the children have remained to the present date.
At the trial on the termination petition, the caseworker assigned to this family, Vickie Thompson, testified on behalf of the Cabinet. Ms. Thompson testified that the September 23, 2009, petition included allegations that there was no food in the home; the children were left unsupervised; the parents have issues with alcohol; the father stated he smoked marijuana; the mother admitted to selling food stamps; the parents have limited education and job skills; and that S.M.M. cut her finger with a knife while the mother was sleeping. She testified that the parents stipulated to abuse or neglect on December 10, 2009, admitting that they had substance abuse issues and that the children were neglected as a result.
Ms. Thompson testified that the second petition was filed on February 8, 2010, due to an act of physical abuse against S.M.M. that occurred during a supervised visitation with the parents while at the home of the paternal grandparents. The parents reported that the child fell while she was running but a doctor concluded that the imprint on the child's face and ear could not have been caused by a fall but had to have been caused by a hard hit. On August 26, 2010, the parents stipulated to abuse or neglect, admitting that due to their lack of supervision of S.M.M., she was injured, causing a bruise to her face/ear. They admitted that their conduct put B.L.M. at risk. As mentioned above, the children were committed to the Cabinet at this time.
Throughout the dependency case, the parents were court ordered to complete multiple services. Ms. Thompson testified that on October 1, 2009, the parents were ordered to participate in supervised visitation; remain clean and sober; comply fully with court orders; complete a psychological assessment and follow recommendations; complete a substance abuse assessment and follow recommendations; and complete parenting classes and follow recommendations.
The mother completed her psychological assessment on October 23, 2009. It stated that she acknowledged emotional struggles and that her intellectual functioning is in the borderline range, which may cause difficulty in appropriately caring for young children without significant help from outside sources. The mother's personality test indicated significant elevations in anxiety and depression and stated that she should be referred for behavioral counseling to address these symptoms. The parenting ...