In the Matter of JOHN DOE, a Child Under the Age of Eighteen (18) Years.
JOHN DOE I (2016-37), Respondent-Appellant. IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Petitioner-Respondent,
Opinion No. 77
from the Magistrate Division of the District Court of the
Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon.
Carolyn M. Minder, Magistrate.
terminating parental rights, affirmed.
Ellsworth, Kallas & DeFranco, PLLC; Joseph L. Ellsworth,
Boise, for appellant.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Denise M. Hippach,
Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
Doe appeals from the magistrate's order terminating
Doe's parental rights. Specifically, he challenges
whether there was substantial and competent evidence to
support the magistrate's findings that (1) Doe had
neglected the child and (2) it was in the child's best
interests to terminate Doe's parental rights. We affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
the father to a minor child born in November 2013. At the
time of the child's birth, the child was placed in the
care of the Department of Health and Welfare
("Department") after the mother tested positive for
amphetamine. In February 2014, the child was again placed in
the care of the Department after the mother was hospitalized
for suicidal ideations. Then, in October 2014, the child was
placed in foster care for a third time after police found the
child unsupervised while the mother was unconscious on the
floor. When the child was placed into foster care
for the third time, Doe stated he was unable to care for the
child due to Doe's employment and lack of resources and
child care skills.
of the child protection case, Doe was ordered to participate
in a case plan in November 2014. The primary objectives of
Doe's case plan were to (1) increase his awareness and
ability on how to care for the child and (2) provide the
child with a safe and stable living environment. To meet
these objectives, Doe was required to participate in a
parenting program, demonstrate his ability to care for the
child's basic needs, and obtain Department-approved child
care. In conformance with his plan, Doe completed parenting
classes and participated in daytime visits and several
overnight visits with the child. Then, in September 2015, the
magistrate held a permanency hearing. Testimony at that
hearing revealed that Doe continued to display difficulties
providing for the child's basic care and had not secured
child care. The magistrate issued an order approving
termination and adoption as the final plan.
Department then petitioned for termination of Doe's
parental rights, and a trial date was set for December 2016.
In response to the Department's petition, Doe requested
additional time to comply with his case plan, citing the
arrival of his three teenaged children from Ethiopia as the
basis for the continuance. The magistrate vacated and reset
the termination trial for March 2016. The Department then
filed a motion to amend the permanent plan to allow
additional time to work with Doe toward reunification. The
magistrate again reset the termination trial for May 2016. In
May, the Department filed another motion to amend the
permanent plan after learning that Doe was relying on his
teenaged children to care for the child in Doe's absence,
again requesting termination of parental rights and adoption.
After holding a hearing on this motion, the magistrate
granted the Department's request to amend the plan. The
Department filed an amended petition for termination in June
termination hearing in August 2016, the magistrate heard
testimony from the police officer who discovered the child
unsupervised in the home, the case workers, the foster mother
and father, the guardian ad litem, Doe, and Doe's three
teenaged children. Based on the evidence presented at trial,
the magistrate found that there was clear and convincing