In the Matter of DAWN M. and Others, Neglected Children. BROOME COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES, Respondent; MICHAEL M. et al., Appellants.
Calendar Date: May 2, 2017
K. Schillinger, East Greenbush, for Michael M., appellant.
Kessler, Cohoes, for Brendi M., appellant.
Kuredin V. Eytina, Broome County Department of Social
Services, Binghamton, for respondent.
B. Bleiwas, Ithaca, attorney for the children.
Before: Peters, P.J., Garry, Lynch, Clark and Aarons, JJ.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
from an order of the Family Court of Broome County (Pines,
J.), entered September 3, 2015, which, in a proceeding
pursuant to Family Ct Act articles 10 and 10-A, modified the
permanency plan of the subject children.
Brendi M. (hereinafter the mother) and respondent Michael M.
(hereinafter the father) are the parents of
daughters, Desirae M. (born in 2004), Samantha M. (born in
2007), Summer M. (born in 2008) and Dawn M. (born in 2009).
In May 2013, respondents were adjudicated to having neglected
the children and were ordered to engage in court-ordered
rehabilitative services. In September 2013, the children,
after they had been residing with the father, were removed to
the care and custody of petitioner stemming from allegations
that the father struck Desirae . In March 2015,
petitioner filed a permanency hearing report seeking to
change the permanency goal for the children from return to
parent to termination of parental rights and freeing the
children for adoption. The parties subsequently consented to
keeping placement of the children in foster care and to a
permanency plan of return to parent pending the filing of a
petition to terminate parental rights. The mother thereafter
objected to the continued placement of the children in foster
care and Family Court reopened the permanency hearing on the
mother's application for return of the children
. Following the hearing, in a September
2015 order, Family Court modified the permanency plan from
return to parent to termination of parental rights and
freeing the children for adoption and directed petitioner to
file a termination of parental rights petition. The father
and the mother separately appeal from the September 2015
the conclusion of a permanency hearing, the court has the
authority to modify an existing permanency goal and must
enter a disposition based upon the proof adduced and in
accordance with the best interests of the child[ren]"
(Matter of Dezerea G. [Lisa G.], 97 A.D.3d 933, 935
 [citations omitted]; see Matter of Rebecca
KK., 55 A.D.3d 984, 986 ). "Wherever
possible, the societal goal and overarching consideration is
to return a child to the parent, and reunification remains
the goal unless a parent is unable or unwilling to correct
the conditions that led to removal" (Matter of Kobe
D. [Kelli F.], 97 A.D.3d 947, 948  [internal
quotation marks and citations omitted]; see generally
Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d 299, 310 ).
hearing, a foster care caseworker testified that she
supervised visits between the mother and the children and
stated that the goals were to refrain from using excessive
corporal punishment or physical abuse and to improve
parenting skills. Notwithstanding these goals, the foster
care caseworker testified regarding her concerns about the
mother's behavior as it related to the children's
safety when the mother visited with the children. The mother
would become increasingly frustrated when trying to
discipline the children and, on more than one occasion, she
almost hit one of them when throwing her hands up in
exasperation. While the foster care caseworker stated that
the mother did not strike the child, the caseworker was
nonetheless concerned because the mother displayed a lack of
awareness as to the child's whereabouts. The caseworker
further testified that she was concerned that the
mother's frustration may rise to the level of physical
force being used.
foster care caseworker described one visitation where the
mother threatened to leave when she could not control the
children and this caused the children to become upset. The
caseworker also stated that, after visitation or phone calls
with the mother, the children's behavior with their
foster parents or other children would become worse and the
children would hurt other children at school. The caseworker
offered techniques to help the mother with her parenting and
disciplining the children, but the mother generally failed to
implement the suggestions. Although the mother completed a
basic level parenting class, she has been resistant in
following the caseworker's recommendations in pursuing a
higher level parenting class. According to the caseworker,
the mother lacked insight as to why the children were in
foster care and failed to understand what she needed to do to
get the children out of foster care.
manager for petitioner similarly testified that the mother
had yet to acknowledge that she understood why the children
were placed in foster care. The case manager also stated
that, despite completing some anger management and parenting
classes, the mother has not benefitted from such services
inasmuch as she becomes "very frustrated when the
[children] do not respond to her directions." According
to the case manager, the mother has not attended some of the
children's medical ...