In the Matter of CORDELL M., Alleged to be a Permanently Neglected Child. BROOME COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, Respondent; CHERYL O. et al., Appellants.
Calendar Date: March 27, 2017
Randolph V. Kruman, Cortland, for Cheryl O., appellant.
B. Carrascoso, Cooperstown, for Cordell Q., appellant.
Kuredin V. Eytina, Broome County Department of Social
Services, Binghamton, for respondent.
Christopher Hammond, Cooperstown, attorney for the child.
Before: McCarthy, J.P., Garry, Egan Jr., Rose and Mulvey, JJ.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
from an order of the Family Court of Broome County
(Connerton, J.), entered October 1, 2015, which granted
petitioner's application, in a proceeding pursuant to
Social Services Law § 384-b, to adjudicate the subject
child to be permanently neglected, and terminated
respondents' parental rights.
are the mother and the father of a son (born in 2012). The
child has been in the continuous care, custody and
guardianship of petitioner since respondents were adjudged to
have neglected the child in 2013, based on, among other
things, respondents' substance abuse and domestic
violence issues. In May 2014, petitioner filed a petition
requesting that the child be adjudicated permanently
neglected and to continue his care, custody and guardianship
with petitioner. Following a fact-finding hearing, Family
Court found that respondents had permanently neglected the
child and, after a dispositional hearing, it terminated
respondents' parental rights and continued the
child's care, custody and guardianship with petitioner.
Respondents appeal, and we affirm.
met its initial burden of establishing "by clear and
convincing evidence, that it made 'diligent efforts to
encourage and strengthen the parental relationship'"
between respondents and the child (Matter of James J.
[James K.], 97 A.D.3d 936, 937 , quoting Social
Services Law § 384-b  [a]; see Matter of Joannis
P. [Joseph Q.], 110 A.D.3d 1188, 1189 , lv
denied 22 N.Y.3d 857');">22 N.Y.3d 857 ). The record establishes
that petitioner's agents repeatedly encouraged
respondents to engage in services for substance abuse,
domestic violence and mental health issues and that they made
appropriate referrals in that regard. The agents also
encouraged respondents to visit with and appropriately
interact with the child, and, in regard to respondents'
alleged transportation problems, provided bus passes for the
purposes of facilitating visits with the child. The fact that
respondents failed to take advantage of or benefit from
offered services and failed to take advantage of numerous
opportunities to visit with the child does not undermine
petitioner's efforts. Accordingly, Family Court properly
determined that petitioner established, by clear and
convincing efforts, that it made the requisite diligent
efforts to facilitate respondents' relationships with the
child (see Matter of Jazmyne II [Frank MM.], 144
A.D.3d 1459, 1460 , lv denied ___ N.Y.3d ___
[Mar. 23, 2017]; Matter of Landon U. [Amanda U.],
132 A.D.3d 1081');">132 A.D.3d 1081 ).
the record supports Family Court's determination that
respondents failed to "fulfill[ their] obligation[s] to
both maintain contact with the child and develop a realistic
plan for his future" (Matter of Kaiden AA. [John
BB.], 81 A.D.3d 1209, 1210 ; see Matter of
Marcus BB. [Donna AA.], 130 A.D.3d 1211, 1212 ;
Matter of Lawrence KK. [Lawrence LL.], 72 A.D.3d
1233, 1234-1235 , lv denied 14 N.Y.3d 713');">14 N.Y.3d 713
). Respondents refused or missed drug screenings on a
number of occasions, and both tested positive for cocaine and
opiates during the relevant time period. Respondents also
either failed to participate in or failed to complete
substance abuse programs. In addition, they both missed the
vast majority of the opportunities that they were given to
visit with the child. Further, despite the role that domestic
violence played in the underlying neglect finding,
respondents both refused to acknowledge issues with domestic
violence in their relationship or the need for treatment in
that regard. Given respondents' respective failures to
address the issues that prevented reunification, the record
supports Family Court's conclusion that they permanently
neglected the child (see Matter of Kapreece SS. [Latasha
SS.], 128 A.D.3d 1114, 1116 , lv denied
26 N.Y.3d 903');">26 N.Y.3d 903 ; Matter of Arianna BB. [Tract
DD.], 110 A.D.3d 1194, 1197 , lv denied
22 N.Y.3d 858');">22 N.Y.3d 858 ). Moreover, given the foregoing and
further considering the evidence that the child was thriving
with his foster parents and was bonded to them, Family Court
properly determined that any further delay was not in the
child's best interests and that the termination of
respondents' parental rights was warranted (see
Matter of Jazmyne II [Frank MM.], 144 A.D.3d at 1461;
Matter of Aniya L. [Samantha L.], 124 A.D.3d 1001,
1006 , lv denied 25 N.Y.3d 904');">25 N.Y.3d 904 ).
Egan Jr., Rose and ...