IN RE EGYPT E., IN RE MARIAM E., SC 19643/19644

Judicial District of New Britain, Juvenile Matters

 

      Termination of Parental Rights; Whether DCF Made Reasonable Reunification Efforts; Whether Parents’ Parental Rights Properly Terminated Under General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (C); Whether Termination Judgments Should be Reversed Because Parents were not Canvassed Pursuant to In re Yasiel R.  The respondent mother and father brought their minor daughter, Mariam, to the hospital for a swollen shoulder and a medical examination revealed that she had six recent fractures.  The parents were unable to explain the cause of the injuries to investigating authorities and the petitioner, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), obtained temporary custody orders and filed neglect petitions with respect to Mariam and the parents’ other minor daughter, Egypt.  In connection with the temporary custody orders, the trial court issued specific steps to facilitate the parents’ reunification with Mariam and Egypt.  Less than one month after the issuance of the specific steps, however, DCF filed petitions to terminate the parents’ parental rights to Mariam and Egypt.  The trial court consolidated the neglect petitions and the termination petitions and granted them after a trial.  With respect to the termination petitions, the trial court found that DCF had made reasonable reunification efforts and that the parents were unable or unwilling to benefit from those efforts.  The trial court also found that DCF had proven that the parents’ parental rights to Mariam and Egypt should be terminated under General Statutes § 17a-112 (j) (3) (C), which provides that a termination petition may be granted when a child has been denied the care, guidance, or control necessary for his or her well-being by acts of parental commission or omission.  In terminating the parental rights as to Egypt under § 17a-112 (j) (3) (C), the trial court incorporated its findings as to Mariam and concluded that the parents’ conduct had disregarded Egypt’s safety and disrupted her family environment, such that she had been denied the care, guidance, or control necessary for her well-being.  The parents now bring these appeals.  The Supreme Court will decide whether the trial court properly determined that DCF made reasonable reunification efforts from which the parents were unable or unwilling to benefit where the parents argue that there was an insufficient amount of time between the issuance of the specific steps and the filing of the termination petitions for DCF to make reasonable efforts.  The Supreme Court will also decide whether the trial court properly terminated the parents’ parental rights to Egypt under § 17a-112 (j) (3) (C) where the parents argue that there was no evidence that Egypt had suffered actual harm.  Finally, the Supreme Court will decide whether the judgment should be reversed where the trial court did not canvass the parents under In re Yasiel R., 317 Conn. 773 (2015), which was released during the pendency of these appeals.  In In re Yasiel R., the Supreme Court held that a trial court must canvass parents who do not consent to the termination of their parental rights prior to the start of trial in order to ensure that parents understand the trial process, their rights and the potential consequences of their actions.