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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Tamara Bailey had four children � three boys and a girl � born within three-and-a-half years of each other. In 2003, when the youngest was less than a year old, a Department of Family and Protective Services caseworker investigated a neglect complaint against Bailey and her husband. The caseworker found the home to be unsanitary and unsafe for children. The department closed the case after Bailey completed a parenting class and cleaned the house while the children stayed with Bailey’s mother. Ten months later, upon another complaint, a caseworker found the home’s condition had not improved: trash, dirty dishes and feces were in evidence around the home, the bathtub was unusable and the children smelled of urine. The children were again removed to their grandmother’s house so Bailey could clean her home. Two months later, in December 2003, the children were again removed, this time to a foster mother, because the home’s condition had again deteriorated. In its petition for removal, the department also sought to terminate the parental rights of both Bailey and her husband, based on the ground that they had knowingly placed their children in conditions that endangered their physical or emotional well-being. A caseworker revisited the home in January 2004, again finding poor conditions and the utilities disconnected. There were some improvements in the house when two more caseworkers visited in February and in the summer, but both found there was room for improvement. During this time, Bailey completed a parenting class and got counseling. She and her husband signed a service plan that recommended family reunification, however neither signed an amended plan that listed “unrelated, adoption” as a long-term goal. Bailey’s husband committed suicide the next month. Eventually, the case to terminate Bailey’s parental rights went to trial, with the children’s foster mother seeking appointment as sole managing conservator. The trial court ruled that Bailey’s parental rights should be terminated. On appeal, Bailey argues the trial court erred by basing its decision on the facts and circumstances that existed at the time the children were removed from the home rather than those existing at the time of trial. HOLDING: Affirmed. The court says there is no case law to support Bailey’s argument partly hinges upon an assumption that a parent’s compliance with a service plan precludes termination. The court then notices that because Bailey and the department focus their arguments on Bailey’s performance under the service plan, neither party has provided a discussion of the factors affecting the best interest of the children in termination proceedings. A parent’s performance under a service plan is likely to be relevant to several of these factors and therefore relevant to the best interest element of termination proceedings. Consequently, Bailey is incorrect when she argues that because she substantially complied with the service plan then her parental rights cannot be terminated. The court rules that the evidence of the home’s condition in December 2003 is sufficient to support a firm conviction or belief that Bailey exposed the children to unsanitary conditions that endangered their well-being. “Evidence that [Bailey] later cleaned the house and made it physically safe for the children does not controvert the evidence that she had exposed the children to conditions which endangered their well-being,” the court finds. The court notes the testimony of witnesses saying termination would be best because Bailey had not taken advantage of resources and programs available to her, and because she did not have the ability to provide for specific needs of the children, which include seizure disorders in all four children and cerebral palsy-like conditions in one child. Despite evidence that at the time of trial Bailey had a job, kept a clean house and was paying child support, the court rules that the entire evidence militates in favor of terminating her parental rights. OPINION: Campbell, J.; Quinn, C.J., Campbell and Hancock, J.J.

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