In the Matter of Ashanti T. P. (Anonymous). Administration for Children's Services, et al., respondents; Shainisa L. R. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 1) In the Matter of Cierra J. J. (Anonymous). Administration for Children's Services, et al., respondents; Shainisa L. R. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 2) In the Matter of Clarence D. P. (Anonymous) III. Administration for Children's Services, et al., respondents; Shainisa L. R. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 3) In the Matter of Carl J. J. (Anonymous), Jr. Administration for Children's Services, et al., respondents; Shainisa L. R. (Anonymous), appellant. (Proceeding No. 4) Docket Nos. N-33162-08, N-33163-08, N-17322-09, N-1234511, B-24064-12, B-24065-12, B-24066-12, B-15399-13
Submitted - October 17, 2017
P. Forbes, Jamaica, NY, for appellant.
Zachary W. Carter, Corporation Counsel, New York, NY (Devin
Slack and Carolyn Walther of counsel), for respondent
Administration for Children's Services.
M. Abramson, PLLC, New York, NY (Rachel Ambats of counsel),
for respondent New Alternatives for Children.
Stern, Brooklyn, NY, attorney for the children.
DECISION & ORDER
M. LEVENTHAL, J.P. CHERYL E. CHAMBERS JOSEPH J. MALTESE
COLLEEN D. DUFFY, JJ.
by the mother from stated portions of an order of the Family
Court, Kings County (Ilana Gruebel, J.), dated July 8, 2016.
The order, after a hearing, inter alia, in effect, revoked an
order of suspended judgment of that court dated March 10,
2014, upon determining that it was in the best interests of
the subject children to be freed for adoption.
that the order dated July 8, 2016, is affirmed insofar as
appealed from, without costs or disbursements.
petitions, the foster care agency alleged that the four
subject children were permanently neglected by the mother and
sought the termination of her parental rights. The mother
thereafter made an admission that she permanently neglected
the children and stipulated that the agency had made diligent
efforts to strengthen and encourage the parent-child
relationships. A suspended judgment was entered for one year,
expiring March 9, 2015.
order to show cause dated October 29, 2014, the agency filed
a motion alleging violations of the suspended judgment. The
agency alleged that the mother violated the terms and
conditions of the suspended judgment by: failing to attend
mental health services and follow recommendations for more
intensive treatment; failing to obtain a source of income and
telling the agency staff that it was none of their business;
failing to obtain stable housing and owing rent arrears;
failing to make herself available for monthly home visits by
the agency; failing to consistently participate in
conferences and appointments related to the children; failing
to demonstrate appropriate parenting skills at the visits by
using profanity and threatening the children; failing to
participate in meetings with the agency to discuss her
service plan and visitation with the children; and displaying
explosive and aggressive behavior when interacting with
agency staff. The agency sought the entry of an order
committing the custody and guardianship of the children
jointly to the agency and the Commissioner of Social Services
of the City of New York. By order to show cause dated
December 29, 2014, the agency sought an order suspending the
mother's visitation with the children. The Family Court
granted interim relief and suspended visitation, pending a
combined hearing on the alleged violation of the suspended
judgment motion and the application to suspend the
Family Court held a combined hearing which commenced on
February 20, 2015, on the violation of the suspended judgment
motion filed by the agency on October 29, 2014, and the
suspension of visitation application filed on December 29,
2014. The court, after the hearing, in effect, revoked the
suspended judgment, determined that it was in the best
interests of the subject children to be freed for adoption,
and dismissed, as academic, the application to suspend the
enacting Family Court Act §§ 631(b) and 633, the
Legislature vested the Family Court with discretion to give a
"second chance" (Matter of Michael B., 80
N.Y.2d 299, 311) to a parent of a "permanently neglected
child" (Family Ct Act § 611; Social Services Law
§ 384-b), before terminating the parent's
parental rights (see Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d
at 311; Matter of Arianna I. [Roger I.], 100 A.D.3d
1281, 1283-1284). A suspended judgment may be entered only if
it is in the best interests of the child (see Family Ct Act
§ 631; Matter of Eric Z. [Guang Z.], 100 A.D.3d
646, 648). It is not, however, intended to be indefinite, but
only to afford the parent "a brief grace period designed
to prepare the parent to be reunited with the child"
(Matter of Michael B., 80 N.Y.2d at 311). Upon
entering an order of disposition suspending judgment, the
court must set forth the duration, terms, and conditions of
the suspended judgment (see Family Ct Act § 633[c]).
Even after a suspended judgment is entered, the court may
revoke it if, after a hearing, it finds by a preponderance of
the evidence that the parent failed to comply with one or
more of its conditions (see Matter of Chanteau
M.RW.[Pamela RB.], 101 A.D.3d 1129; Matter of Malik
S. [Jana M.], 101 A.D.3d 1776, 1777; Matter of
Carmen C. [Margarita N.], 95 A.D.3d 1006, 1008;
Matter of Ricky Joseph V., 24 A.D.3d 683, 684).
Moreover, a parent must demonstrate that progress has been
made to overcome the specific problems that led to the
removal of the child. Mere attempts are not sufficient
(see Matter of Darren V., 61 A.D.3d 986, 987;
Matter of Jennifer V.V., 241 A.D.2d 622, 623).
the Family Court properly found, by a preponderance of the
evidence, that the mother failed to comply with at least one
of the conditions of the suspended judgment issued in this
matter during the one-year term of the suspended judgment
(see Matter of Mashlai D.M. [Jalisa R.D.], 110
A.D.3d 813; Matter of Chanteau M.R.W. [Pamela RB.],
101 A.D.3d 1129; Matter of Carmen C. [Margarita N.],
95 A.D.3d at 1008; Matter of Darren V., 61 A.D.3d
987). Further, the court properly found that the best
interests of the children would be served by ...