Mother D.H., by counsel Elizabeth A. French, appeals the
Circuit Court of Raleigh County's January 17, 2017, order
terminating her parental rights to then seven-year-old
I.B. The West Virginia Department of Health
and Human Resources ("DHHR"), by counsel S.L.
Evans, filed a response in support of the circuit court's
order. The guardian ad litem ("guardian"), John F.
Parkulo, filed a response on behalf of I.B. also in support
of the circuit court's order. On appeal, petitioner
argues that the circuit court erred in terminating her
parental rights to the child.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
March of 2016, the DHHR filed an abuse and neglect petition
alleging that petitioner appeared "out of it" and
had two black eyes when she arrived at the child's
school. When the principal contacted police, petitioner
reportedly left the school without the child. The principal
later informed a Child Protective Services ("CPS")
worker that petitioner seemed to be intoxicated. Petitioner
was subsequently arrested on a charge of child neglect.
of 2016, the circuit court held an adjudicatory hearing. At
that hearing, petitioner stipulated to her abuse and neglect
of the child due to her substance abuse. Thereafter, the
circuit court granted petitioner's motion for a
post-adjudicatory improvement period.
August of 2016, the circuit court held a review hearing
regarding petitioner's improvement period. At that review
hearing, it was reported that petitioner was "not doing
anything" to improve her substance abuse, but she
claimed that she intended to seek inpatient substance abuse
treatment. At the conclusion of the hearing, the circuit
court continued petitioner's improvement period.
November of 2016, the circuit court held a final review
hearing on petitioner's improvement period. Petitioner
was not present in person, but she was represented by
counsel. The circuit court found that petitioner failed to
comply with the family case plan and terminated her
January of 2017, the circuit court held a dispositional
hearing. Petitioner was not present in person, but she was
represented by counsel. The circuit court found that
petitioner was not present; had not visited the child; and
failed to cooperate with the DHHR. Based on these
circumstances, the circuit court terminated petitioner's
parental rights to the child. This appeal followed.
Court has previously established the following standard of
"Although conclusions of law reached by a circuit court
are subject to de novo review, when an action, such
as an abuse and neglect case, is tried upon the facts without
a jury, the circuit court shall make a determination based
upon the evidence and shall make findings of fact and
conclusions of law as to whether such child is abused or
neglected. These findings shall not be set aside by a
reviewing court unless clearly erroneous. A finding is
clearly erroneous when, although there is evidence to support
the finding, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is
left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been committed. However, a reviewing court may not overturn a
finding simply because it would have decided the case
differently, and it must affirm a finding if the circuit
court's account of the evidence is plausible in light of
the record viewed in its entirety." Syl. Pt. 1, In
Interest of Tiffany Marie S., 196 W.Va. 223, 470 S.E.2d
Syl. Pt. 1, In re Cecil T., 228 W.Va. 89, 717 S.E.2d
appeal, petitioner argues that the circuit court erred in
terminating her parental rights to the child. Under West
Virginia Code § 49-4-604(b)(6), circuit courts are
directed to terminate parental rights upon finding that there
is "no reasonable likelihood that the conditions of
neglect or abuse can be substantially corrected in the near
future" and that termination is necessary for the
child's welfare. West Virginia Code § 49-4-604(c)(3)
provides that "no reasonable likelihood that conditions
of neglect or abuse can be substantially corrected"
exists when "[t]he abusing parent . . . ha[s] not
responded to or followed through with a reasonable family
case plan or other rehabilitative efforts[.]"
case, the evidence clearly demonstrates that petitioner
failed to follow through with the family case plan or other
rehabilitative efforts. We disagree with petitioner that
merely stating her intention to seek substance abuse
treatment was sufficient to show that she was reasonably
likely to substantially correct the conditions of abuse and
neglect. As relayed below, petitioner did nothing to follow
through with her stated intentions to correct the conditions
of abuse and neglect. As such, we find no error.
those reasons, we find no error in the decision of the
circuit court, and its January 17, ...