IN THE INTEREST OF K. W. G.
Appeal from the 314th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2015-07295J
consists of Justices Higley, Bland, and Brown.
an accelerated appeal from a decree terminating parental
rights. The mother concedes the sufficiency of the evidence
on all predicate findings but asserts that the evidence is
legally and factually insufficient to show that termination
was in the best interest of her child. See Tex. Fam.
Code § 161.001(b)(2). We hold that there is sufficient
evidence to support the trial court's decree and
child who is the subject of this suit, K.W.G. (pseudonymously
referred to as "Kevin"), was born in August 2014.
The Department of Family and Protective Services intervened
in December 2015 when it received reports that Kevin's
mother ("Mother") was homeless and engaging in
prostitution. Mother tested positive for methamphetamines and
amphetamines, and Kevin was removed from her care.
was offered a family service plan by the Department that
specified an initial permanency goal of family reunification.
The plan listed several requirements that Mother would have
to meet for reunification, including that Mother attend
parenting classes, submit to drug tests, participate in
substance-abuse counseling sessions, and refrain from any
illegal criminal activity. Mother signed the family service
plan, acknowledging that her parental rights might be
terminated if she was unwilling or unable to comply with the
plan, which was designed to provide her child with a safe
environment. The trial court ordered that she comply with the
terms of the family service plan and notified her that
failure to fully comply may result in termination of her
parental rights. See id. § 161.001(b)(1)(O).
The plan period began in January 2016.
was arrested four months later for possession of narcotics.
During the four months before her arrest, Mother did not
appear at any of the five drug tests scheduled under her
family service plan. Nor did she complete or even begin any
of the other plan requirements. She was convicted and spent
the next seven months in jail. While in jail, she completed a
parenting class, but she failed to take steps toward any of
the other plan requirements. Mother was released from jail
about one month before the termination hearing.
hearing, Mother admitted that she had been "on drugs,
" "very depressed, " and "in a very
abusive relationship" before her arrest. She stated that
she has a substance abuse problem that she would like help
addressing. Mother testified that she has begun to address
the items detailed in her family service plan since her
release from jail.
Department caseworker, Regina Taylor-Evans, testified that
Mother never took any steps toward complying with her family
service plan during the four months before her arrest. Mother
agreed that she had not performed any services or attended
any court hearings during those four months but explained
that she had been regularly consuming drugs at that time and
that she did complete a parenting class-one of the plan
requirements-while in jail.
Department also presented evidence of Mother's lengthy
criminal record, which included three felony drug
convictions, a felony theft conviction, two convictions for
driving while intoxicated, and an assault conviction, among
others. There also was evidence of an arrest for aggravated
assault in March 2016, while her family plan was in place,
but that charge had not been finally resolved by the trial
date. Mother was not asked nor did she testify
about her criminal history.
also testified about Kevin's current living arrangements.
At the time of trial, he was two years old. He had been
living with foster parents for the past seven months.
According to Taylor-Evans, the current foster parents were
adequately providing for Kevin's physical and emotional
needs and wanted to adopt him and provide him a permanent,
testified that termination of Mother's parental rights
was in Kevin's best interest because a permanent
placement was available, the foster parents were willing and
able to provide Kevin with a safe and stable environment,
Mother had a long history of drug use and incarcerations,
there was evidence that Mother engaged in violent behavior
during the pendency of the case that could subject her to
additional incarceration, and Mother failed to comply with
the terms of her family services plan.
trial court terminated Mother's parental rights after
finding that the Department proved by clear and convincing
evidence that Mother had engaged in conduct that endangered
Kevin, constructively abandoned Kevin, and failed to comply
with her court-ordered plan, and that termination was in
Kevin's best interest. See Tex. ...