We had our first permanency hearing today. Sheila was 30 minutes late and walked in mid-hearing. The judge was not pleased and made the comment that this seems to be a theme. She also agreed with the GAL who observed that either she isn't capable of realizing the seriousness of the situation or she doesn't care and has given up.
We knew that the case plan was going to be unsatisfactory. What we heard from the states attorney as evidence of no effort and no progress was pretty serious. No effort and no progress is grounds for termination in our state. There have to be findings of no effort and/or no progress for a consecutive 9 months (I believe. I could have some of the statutes mixed up.) DCFS likes to have two unsatisfactory case plans before the take it to legal screening to ensure the case is likely to be granted termination.
She's not done any of her parenting classes and the supervisor of that program actually sent in a report documenting all the ways they tried to work with her. Her excuses as to why she didn't show didn't add up. She isn't attending counseling. She went of her medication against the advice of her psychiatrist (she had a mental health hospitalization last year which is part of why the kids are in care). She refused to give DCFS the name of her boyfriend for a background check and with the history of domestic violence that was alarming to the court.
The GAL and the judge were concerned about the lack of therapy for the kids. The judge allowed me to update the record with Smiley and Simon's diagnosis and the plan to assess Sarah and Stella. She mentioned that these kids are going to have lots of challenges and it will take years of hard work to overcome those challenges. The judge ruled no progress, no effort on Sheila and all the Dads. There was also a paternity test ordered for Simon and Sarah to see if the Dad who they are visiting with (sometimes) is really the dad. The problem is that he is not likely to show.
Sheila was upset. She cried. I'm still not sure she realizes how serious this is. We met after court and as I was explaining Simon's anxiety and PTSD she looked flabbergasted. When I mentioned he scores and reacts like other children who have been repeatedly exposed to domestic violence and parental substance abuse she looked shocked. Her body language was: I have no idea how that could be.
The denial is hard because that means she won't be able to correct her issues. It was mentioned that the she does not understand why DCFS is involved in her family. (Remember that she had her kids removed once and had intact services prior to this removal. The issues have been discussed over and over. She's also received a copy of the case plan.)
I don't see her correcting enough things to make progress. Her discontinuing medication is most alarming to me. She also has a criminal case pending for driving on a revoked license. She is facing jail time as this is at least her 2nd offense.
All very sad. But we are closer to permanency for these kids and potential adoption. We'll know more in three months at the next status update.