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Mother loses parental rights

A Clearfield county mother has lost parental rights to her 2-year-old daughter because she has not seen the child for more than two years and refused to cooperate with a reunification plan proposed by the county’s child welfare agency.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court last week upheld a decision by Clearfield Judge Paul E. Cherry who on June 28 terminated the mother’s rights.

The appeals court decision does not identify the mother but refers to her only by her initials.

In an opinion authored by Superior Court Judge Anne E. Lazarus, the court stated that Cherry did not err in terminating the mother’s parental rights based on the legal premise that for six months preceding the filing of the termination petition, she refused or failed to perform her parental duties.

The three-judge Superior Court panel concluded despite two years of effort by Clearfield County Children, Youth and Family Services, she still had the parenting deficiencies that resulted in the child’s placement in foster care in the first place.

The youngster was only 2 days old when child welfare was made aware of the mother’s problems that included lack of parenting skills, mental health issues and lack of income and stable housing.

The county agency placed the child in foster care where, according to testimony during termination hearings, she is “thriving.”

The foster family intends to adopt her.

The county agency established several goals for the mother to accomplish in order to obtain the custody of her child, including attending therapy, drug testing, anger management and a parenting class.

The mother failed to complete any of those goals.

The mother, through Clearfield attorney Mark Anthony Falvo, appealed the county judge’s decision, contending she sought mental health counseling, has a job and will soon receive Social Security benefits.

The mother argued that she has taken “extraordinary measures to reunite with her child.”

The reviewing panel that included Judges Lazarus, Mary Jane Bowes and Dan Pellegrini, disagreed, stating that the “mother has been completely non-compliant with her permanency objectives, and, in fact, told CYS she did not want to complete any of her plan goals.”

The father of the 2-year-old did not contest termination of his parental rights, the Superior Court stated.

The child during the hearing was represented by attorney Lea Ann Heitzel of DuBois and the guardian ad litem (court-appointed attorney) for the case was Daniel C. Bell of Clearfield.

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