An institution filed an appeal against a mother alleging that her six children were suspected neglected. At that time, the youngest child was a new-born and the oldest child was 16 years old.
The petitions alleged that the mother failed to provide her children with proper supervision and guardianship. Specifically, the petitions alleged that the school-age children were not enrolled in school. Additionally, the petitions alleged that the mother misused marijuana and then gave birth to a baby with a positive toxicology for marijuana.
Subsequently, a fact-finding hearing was conducted. The institution called two witnesses on their direct case, the caseworker and the mother.
Sources revealed that the hospital records establish that the mother and the baby tested positive for marijuana on the day the baby was born. In all other respects the baby was born healthy and full-term.
Moreover, the criminal records establish that the baby developed a mild abdominal distension when he was three days old. After x-rays were taken, doctors described his condition as a non-obstructive bowel gas pattern. They diagnosed him with presumed sepsis and treated him with antibiotics for seven days. As a result of the infection, the baby was placed in the intensive care.
The caseworker’s testimony and progress notes establish that she visited the family’s home. The maternal grandmother was caring for the four older children while their mother was in the hospital.
The caseworker observed that the home was neat and well equipped. She found appropriate sleeping arrangements, baby clothing, a crib, a bassinet, a play pen, toys and other baby provisions. She also noted that none of the children needed medical attention. None of them had any observable delays or disabilities and that they were all free from any marks or bruises.
The caseworker interviewed each of the four children separately. She described each of them as very willing to share with the caseworker about their family. They all appeared well-cared-for. None of them had ever been assessed for mental health treatment or counseling. None of them had ever seen their mother smoking marihuana or under the influence of any drug or alcohol.
The caseworker first interviewed the child who was nine years old. He reported that his family had just moved. He said that his dad stayed behind in the old house when they moved. He described his daily routine. He said that he eats breakfast in the morning and gets ready for school. He said that his mother or grandmother take him to school. He said that after school he does his homework. He said that he has a snack, watches television and eats dinner. He said that he has fun with his brothers and sisters. He said that they go out and watch movies and play games. He said that his mother or his grandmother also take them out sometimes to do different things.
The caseworker asked him if he ever saw his mother smoking but he responded no. She also asked him if he was looking forward to his baby brother coming home and he answered yes, with a big smile. He took the caseworker to see his room and explained that he shared the room with his brother.
The caseworker also spoke with the child who was eight years old. She said that all of her family members get along good. She said that her mother and grandmother take them out and they do stuff. She said they watch a lot of movies. She said that they play and watch television. She took the caseworker to her room and showed her what she and her sister do during their spare time.
She reported that she liked their new home because the girls had their own room and because they were close to school.
In response to the caseworker’s questioning, she said that she never saw her mother smoking. She said that she knows what drugs are and she knows they are bad. She said that she was excited about her baby brother and was looking forward to him coming home from the hospital.
The caseworker also spoke with the child who was nine years old. She reported that her family had just moved. She said that her dad stayed behind when they moved. She said she didn’t know why they had moved. She said that she was going to a new school and she wasn’t sure if she liked it yet. She said that she liked where they were living because it was close to school and because she and her sister have their own room. The child described her daily routine.
She said that her mother does not hit her. She said that when she misbehaves she gets sent to her room or her mother will not let her have snacks or sometimes she has to go to bed early.
She said that she gets along good with her brother and sister. She said that her little brother sometimes bothers her but that he is fun to play with most of the time. The caseworker asked her if she ever saw her mother smoking and she responded no.
The caseworker also interviewed the child who was 13 years old. He reported that his family had just moved. He said that he hoped he would be able to go and visit his father for the holidays.
The child also described his daily routine. He said that he shared a room with his brother. He said that he gets up, get ready for school and that after school, he does his homework. He said that he watches television until it is time to eat dinner. He said that he spends most of his time reading because he likes to read. He said that he watches movies with his brother and sisters. He said that they also go out sometimes to do things with their mother.
The child also said that he never saw his mother smoking or using drugs. When asked whether his mother drank, he said that he didn’t know.
Subsequently, the mother testified that she occasionally used marijuana on holidays and during prayer. She testified that she did not smoke marijuana but she drank it in tea or ingested it orally in the form of a paste. She further testified that she started doing it approximately three years ago. She also said that she ingested marijuana approximately two weeks before the baby was born. She said that she had never used or been under the influence of marijuana when she was with the children.
At the conclusion of the institution’s direct case, the mother moved to dismiss the petition for failure to establish a case. The court then reserved decision on the motion.
The mother introduced a number of documents into evidence. It includes several pages of the progress notes, the curriculum vitae of their expert, and the children’s school records.
The record is found insufficient to establish a case since no evidence was presented establishing the quantity, frequency or effect of marijuana use upon the mother or her ability to care for the children.
At the conclusion of the fact-finding hearing, the mother, with the support of the attorney of the children, moved to dismiss the petition. The institution then opposed the motion. As a result, the court grants the motion and dismisses the petition.
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