Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
THE 323RD DISTRICT COURT OF TARRANT COUNTY TRIAL COURT NO.
LIVINGSTON, C.J.; WALKER and MEIER, JJ.
LIVINGSTON CHIEF JUSTICE.
M.F. (Mother) appeals the trial court's judgment
terminating her parental rights to her daughter, A.C.
(Ally). Although Mother's brief does not
contain an explicit issue statement, we construe the brief as
raising a single contention: that the evidence is legally and
factually insufficient to prove that termination is in
Ally's best interest. We conclude that the evidence is
legally and factually sufficient to support the trial
court's finding that termination of Mother's parental
rights is in Ally's best interest, so we affirm the trial
met Father in 2013, conceived Ally with him, and gave birth
to her in June 2015. She has three older children, each of
whom has a history with the Department of Family and
Protective Services (DFPS or the Department). Mother's
parental rights to the child closest to Ally in age, M.F.
(Mark),  were terminated in March 2016 with
findings that Mother had knowingly placed or allowed him to
remain in conditions or surroundings that had endangered his
physical or emotional well-being and had engaged in conduct
or knowingly placed him with persons who engaged in conduct
that had endangered his physical or emotional well-being.
Mother maintains her parental rights to two older children,
T.F. and J.F.
October 2015, when Ally was five months old, DFPS received a
referral alleging inadequate supervision of her. The referral
alleged that Ally had been living with her maternal
grandmother (who also cared for Mother's oldest two
children) but had been allowed to have unsupervised contact
with Mother and Father despite the fact that Father had a
history of abusing children and had been barred by DFPS from
having unsupervised access to children. The referral further
alleged that one of Mother's children had been engaging
in behavioral problems in the home; that Mother and Father
had been arguing; and that as a result of the argument,
Mother was attempting to send Father to jail.
McDonald, an investigator with DFPS, talked with the maternal
grandmother and Mother, and both of them denied that Mother
and Father had enjoyed unsupervised access to the children.
But one of the children in the home told McDonald that he,
his brother, and Ally had been with Mother and Father
unsupervised. Another child said that Ally had been with
Mother without the supervision of the maternal grandmother.
Mother acknowledged to McDonald that she was aware that
Father had a history of abusing children. The Department
removed Ally from her maternal grandmother's
while finding a "reason to believe" that Mother had
neglected her supervision of Ally.
filed a petition in which it sought termination of
Mother's parental rights to Ally if reunification between
them could not be achieved. The trial court signed an order
naming DFPS as Ally's temporary sole managing conservator
and appointing an attorney ad litem to represent her. The
court also appointed counsel to represent Mother.
Department filed a family service plan. The service plan
expressed the Department's concern that Ally was too
young to provide for or protect herself and that Mother had
shown mental instability and poor choices that had placed
Ally at risk of harm. The service plan required Mother to,
among other acts, maintain consistent contact with her
caseworker, complete parenting classes, maintain safe and
stable housing, maintain employment, and complete a
psychological evaluation and individual counseling. Before
trial, the trial court signed a permanency order stating that
Mother had not demonstrated adequate compliance with the
bench trial in August 2016, Mother, who was twenty-eight
years old at that time, testified that she had recently lived
with her mother, with a friend, and then back with her
mother. Mother testified that the friend she had lived with
was named Emily, but Mother did not know Emily's last
name. Mother testified that she was no longer involved with
Father in any way (except for seeing him while visiting Ally)
and that she had separated from him near the time that she
became pregnant with Ally. Mother admitted that she knew that
Father had a criminal history and that he was not allowed to
have unsupervised access to children. When she was asked
whether she had any concerns about Father, she replied,
"At one point I did but we're not together. So . . .
I'm not here to talk about him. I'm here to talk
about my daughter."
testified that she does not have a driver's license and
that she relies on her mother to provide transportation. She
stated that she is currently employed alongside her mother as
a custodian at two sports stadiums and that she has
previously been employed with a phone company, a store, and a
restaurant. But Mother admitted that she had not provided
proof of her employment to DFPS, and she testified that she
forgot to bring such proof to trial.
conceded that she had not completed a psychological
evaluation or individual counseling even though DFPS had
asked her to do so as part of both Ally's and Mark's
cases and even though her caseworker had told her that doing
so was important. She stated that her job schedule had
prevented her from doing so. She acknowledged that she had
violated a court order in Mark's case by not completing
the psychological evaluation and counseling. She testified,
however, that she had completed a psychiatric assessment, a
drug and alcohol assessment, and parenting classes. Mother
conceded that as of the date of the trial, she did not have
stable housing. When Mother was asked whether it was in
Ally's best interest to "keep waiting" on her
to complete the services, Mother said no. After Ally's
removal, Mother was entitled to have weekly visits with her,
but Mother acknowledged at trial that she had missed some of
the trial concluded, the trial court signed a judgment
terminating Mother's parental rights to Ally. Among other
findings, the trial court found that termination of the