In the Interest of C. K. S., a child
Termination of parental rights. Chatham Juvenile Court. Before Judge Stone.
Nazish A. Ahmed, for appellant.
Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General, Shalen S. Nelson, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Leo Beckmann, Jr., for appellee.
MCFADDEN, Judge. Andrews, P. J., concurs. Ray, J., concurs in judgment only with special concurrence.
The father of C. K. S. appeals the termination of his parental rights. He argues that the evidence does not support the termination. He also challenges the juvenile court's decision not to place the child with a family member. We agree that the evidence is insufficient to support the termination, and we therefore reverse. We do not reach the issue regarding the child's placement.
On appeal of a juvenile court's order terminating a parent's rights, we view the evidence
in the light most favorable to the juvenile court's ruling, and [our] review is limited to addressing the question of whether any rational trier of fact could have found by clear and convincing evidence that the parent's rights should have been terminated. In this review, [we] must necessarily defer to the juvenile court's fact finding, weighing of the evidence, and credibility determinations.
In the Interest of D. T. A., 312 Ga.App. 26, 27 (717 S.E.2d 536) (2011) (citations and punctuation omitted).
Viewed in this light, the evidence shows that on July 7, 2011, two days after the child was born, the Department of Family and Children Services (" DFCS" ) filed a deprivation petition seeking custody of the child because the mother was incarcerated. The juvenile court granted the petition. After conducting a hearing, four days later, the court [329 Ga.App. 227] continued custody of the child in DFCS. The child's case manager filed an affidavit in which she testified that she had contacted the father and paternal grandmother, but they reported that they did not have the resources to care for the child.
On July 28, 2011, the court found the child to be deprived because the mother was incarcerated; her parental rights to another child had been terminated because of her chronic, unrehabilitated substance abuse, lack of stable housing and income, and failure to develop a bond with the child; the father admitted marijuana use; the father was unemployed; and the father resided in his mother's house, which did not have accommodations for an infant. Although he had been notified of the hearing, the father was not present.
On August 29, 2011, the court entered a case plan with the alternate goals of the reunification of the child with his mother and the adoption of the child. The case plan listed multiple goals for the mother to meet in order for her to regain custody. It listed no specific goals for the father. The mother signed the plan, but the father did not.
According to DFCS, when it looked as if the mother would not meet the goals of her case plan, DFCS intensified its efforts to work with the father. Nonetheless, the record contains no case plan entered before June 2012 specifically directing the father to meet any goals to regain custody of the child. In early 2012, the father voluntarily entered two accountability-court programs: the Savannah-Chatham County Felony Drug Court, a program of the Chatham Superior Court, and the Family Dependency Treatment
Court, a program of the juvenile court. On February 7, 2012, he filed a petition to legitimate the child. The petition was granted in April 2012.
In the meantime, on March 15, 2012, the father pled guilty to theft bye shoplifting and was sentenced to five years probation. In May 2012, the father tested positive for the presence of cocaine. Previously, before he had become part of the child's case plan, the father pled guilty to possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, possession of a tool for the commission of a crime, and ...