The Trial Court terminated the parental rights of the mother as to her daughter, age 9 at the time of the hearing. The Court deniedthe mother’s motion to compel the daughter to testify at the termination hearing.
J.C. was three when DCFS got involved. An anonymous call was made to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The call reported a child left alone in a park. The Police reported to the scene and found J.C. sitting alone in a stroller.
Fifteen minutes after the police arrived, a woman came. She tried to push the stroller away. She told the police that she was J.C.’s mother and they were homeless. She admitted that she slept in the park. She said she left J.C. alone on a daily basis while she went to public restrooms. She went there to change her clothes and use drugs.
The police found “many syringes” wrapped up in a diaper in the stroller with “evidence of recent use.” The mother was arrested for child endangerment. J.C. was taken to a hospital for observation.
In court, the State alleged that J.C. was neglected due to lack of care and an injurious environment. And she was abused due to a substantial risk of physical injury. The State alleged that C.F. had “a long history of substance abuse that has not been addressed.”
The GAL alleged that, during the past two years, J.C. had not wanted much, if any, contact with her mother. J.C. continually voiced this opinion to her caseworker, her therapist, and the GAL. Following her last two supervised visits with her mother J.C. did not want to resume visitation, because she was focused on her life at home and at school
The Guardian Ad Litem, GAL, stated that requiring the child’s testimony would risk causing her further emotional damage. The child’s testimony would not have changed the outcome of the proceeding. It would have been detrimental to the child’s best interest.
Mother was given procedural due process at the termination hearings. She had the opportunity to be heard. She was able to explain her position. She was able to present evidence. She was given the opportunity to counter the State’s evidence.
Mother appealed. The Appellate Court agreed with the Trial Court