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Alcazar v. Harrisonburg Rockingham Social Services District

Court of Appeals of Virginia

January 7, 2014

CARMEN ALCAZAR
v.
HARRISONBURG ROCKINGHAM SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT CARMEN ALCAZAR
v.
HARRISONBURG ROCKINGHAM SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ROCKINGHAM COUNTY James V. Lane, Judge.

(W. Andrew Harding, on brief), for appellant. Appellant submitting on brief.

(Rachel Errett Figura, Assistant County Attorney; Sherwin John Jacobs, Guardian ad litem for the minor children, on brief), for appellee. Appellee and Guardian ad litem submitting on brief.

Judges Kelsey, Beales and Senior Judge Clements

MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]

PER CURIAM

Carmen Alcazar (mother) appeals orders terminating her parental rights to her children. Mother argues that the trial court erred by terminating her parental rights because she substantially remedied the conditions which led to the removal of the children pursuant to Code § 16.1-283(C)(2) and the Harrisonburg Rockingham Social Services District (the Department) did not prove the requirements for termination pursuant to Code § 16.1-283(C)(1).[1] Upon reviewing the record and briefs of the parties, we conclude that the trial court did not err. Accordingly, we affirm the decisions of the trial court.

BACKGROUND

We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party below and grant to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom. See Logan v. Fairfax Cnty. Dep't of Human Dev., 13 Va.App. 123, 128, 409 S.E.2d 460, 462 (1991).

Mother has two children who are the subject of this appeal.[2] Since 2003, the Department has been involved with mother and the children. There were issues of inadequate hygiene, shelter, and domestic violence.

In March 2011, mother and her two children were living with Angel Pacheco, mother's boyfriend. The Department had received a complaint that mother and Pacheco were selling prescription pills and drugs out of the home. The drug task force and sheriff's office searched the home and found packaged pills, drugs, drug paraphernalia, and cash. The children told the Department that Pacheco's "friends come over and give him money for the green stuff. [Pacheco] smokes the green stuff and white powder." They also said that Pacheco "goes to New York to get the white powder and smokes it with a lighter." The Department removed the children on March 29, 2011.

Both mother and Pacheco were present at the emergency removal hearing and the preliminary hearing. Pacheco informed the court that he did not want to be part of the case and that he would not cooperate with the Department.

When children are removed from their home, the Department's policy is to involve adults who are living in the home with the children. The Department conducts criminal background and child protective services (CPS) checks on those adults. If the adult passes the background checks, then the Department offers services, including drug testing and substance abuse counseling. The adult also would be involved in any of the Department's meetings and supervised visitation. The Department would not return a child home to his mother without the required background checks and involvement of a live-in boyfriend.

In addition to Pacheco's lack of cooperation, the Department was concerned about placing the children in the same home with Pacheco because he had a felony conviction for drug distribution. The Department informed mother that if Pacheco would not cooperate with the Department, then the children could not be placed in the same house with him, and mother would have to stop seeing him. The Department explained that mother needed to obtain suitable housing for her and the children. At the time, Pacheco was her payee for her SSI payments, and the Department advised her to change her payee. The Department also was concerned about her parenting skills and communication skills. During visitations, mother primarily spoke Spanish, and the children primarily spoke English.

The Department offered mother supervised visitation, parenting education and classes, individual counseling, and English classes. The Department also offered the services of a bilingual worker for mother. Mother falsely told the Department that she ended her relationship with Pacheco. She never asked the Department to involve Pacheco in the foster care case. The Department found that mother was not compliant with its requirements because not only did she not take English classes, but she ...


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