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In re Stephanie P.

June 27, 2003

IN RE STEPHANIE P. AND JANIE I., MINORS
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
LISA I., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois No. 00-JA-12 Honorable Thomas A. Thanas, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Barry

UNPUBLISHED

The trial court found that the respondent mother, Lisa I., was neglecting her children, Stephanie P. and Janie I., because of an injurious environment. The court initially placed the children under the guardianship of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Later, the court allowed DCFS to terminate its guardianship and gave custody of the children to their respective fathers. On appeal, the respondent argues that the trial court (1) erred by terminating DCFS' guardianship without first conducting an investigation into the fathers' criminal backgrounds; and (2) abused its discretion by allowing DCFS to terminate its guardianship over the children. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

On March 17, 2000, the State petitioned the trial court to find that the respondent's children were neglected because of an injurious environment. The court determined that there was probable cause, made the children wards of the court, and gave temporary custody and guardianship of the children to DCFS.

The court conducted adjudicatory hearings from January 29 through May 1, 2001. An investigator for DCFS testified that on February 29, 2000, the respondent had offered cocaine to the children's 15-year-old babysitter after the babysitter asked to be paid. The babysitter initially refused the cocaine. The respondent then threatened to tell the babysitter's friends that she "was a drug addict and say things about her" if she did not ingest the cocaine. After the babysitter ingested the cocaine, the respondent called 9-1-1 and said that the babysitter had stopped breathing. In fact, the babysitter had not stopped breathing, but had choked because her nose was bleeding. The DCFS investigator testified that the respondent participated in other drug activities in the home in the presence of the children.

On May 1, 2001, the court issued its written adjudication order finding that the children were neglected because of an injurious environment. In its factual basis for the finding of neglect, the court noted the cocaine ingestion by the babysitter. The court ordered guardianship and custody of the children to temporarily remain with DCFS pending the final disposition of the cause.

Catholic Charities (CC) filed a dispositional report on June 19, 2001, concerning the children. Regarding Janie I., the report noted that her father, Alfredo I., had initiated divorce proceedings against the respondent. Alfredo I. had received outpatient drug treatment for marijuana use and had completed parenting classes. CC recommended that DCFS retain custody of Janie I., but with a transition toward giving custody to Alfredo I.

The record indicates that Stephanie P.'s father, Robert P., was arrested for cocaine possession in September 2000. CC's report indicated that Robert P. was attending Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis to maintain his sobriety. He had successfully completed drug treatment and counseling. CC recommended that Robert P. be given custody of Stephanie P., with guardianship to remain with DCFS for six months. The court's written order followed CC's recommendations concerning the children, their fathers, and DCFS.

On September 4, 2001, CC submitted another report to the court. The report stated that since the previous report, DCFS had given custody of Janie I. to Alfredo I. CC recommended that custody of both children remain with their respective fathers, but that guardianship remain with DCFS for three months. The report stated that the respondent informed the CC worker that she had been arrested for possession of a controlled substance on July 26, 2001.

The trial court's written order of September 4, 2001, continued the matter for a permanency hearing on December 18, 2001. On the date of the permanency hearing, DCFS filed petitions to be discharged from its guardianship of Stephanie P. and Janie I. The court's docket sheet indicates that the court held a hearing on December 18, 2001, in which all of the parties were present. The docket sheet states, "Custody to fathers. Orders of discharge entered."

The appellant has supplied transcripts of numerous hearings in this case, but has not supplied a transcript or other record of the December 18, 2001, hearing. The record includes the court's written orders of December 18, 2001, in which the court (1) granted DCFS' petitions for discharge from its guardianship of the children; and (2) terminated the court's wardship of the children. The respondent appealed.

ANALYSIS

I. Investigation into Criminal ...


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