from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, No. 14-JA-201; the
Hon. David J. Dubicki, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
K. O'Neal, of Peoria, for appellant.
Brady, State's Attorney, of Peoria (Judith Z. Kelly, of
State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of
counsel), for the People.
Natonek, of Peoria, guardian ad litem.
JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
1 The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) filed
a juvenile petition, alleging that the minor child, L.O., was
neglected and seeking to make the child a ward of the court.
After hearings, the trial court found that the child was
neglected and that the child's mother, respondent Kristyn
S., remained dispositionally unfit. The trial court made the
child a ward of the court, named DCFS as the child's
guardian, and ordered respondent to complete certain tasks.
Respondent appeals the dispositional order, arguing that the
trial court had no authority to order her to complete the
tasks assigned because a service plan had not yet been filed
by the caseworker as required by statute. We affirm the trial
3 Respondent and Daniel O. (father) are the biological
parents of the minor child, L.O., who was born in August
2014. At the time of L.O.'s birth, respondent informed
hospital personnel that she had an open child welfare case
with DCFS and that she had previously been found unfit in two
juvenile court cases pertaining to her other children. In
addition, the hospital staff tested L.O.'s umbilical cord
blood and found it to be positive for cocaine. The hospital
personnel contacted the DCFS hotline, and DCFS took
protective custody of L.O. A few days later, the trial court
held a shelter care hearing and granted DCFS temporary
custody of L.O. L.O. was placed with his paternal
4 DCFS subsequently filed a juvenile neglect petition as to
L.O. in the trial court. The petition, as later amended,
alleged that L.O. was a neglected minor because he had been
subjected to an injurious environment in that: (1) respondent
was previously found unfit in two other juvenile cases in
April 2013, and there had been no subsequent finding of
fitness; (2) respondent had not completed the services that
would result in the return home of L.O.'s siblings or a
finding of fitness; (3) respondent had a history of a
substance abuse problem involving alcohol; (4) the father had
a substance abuse problem involving cocaine, marijuana, and
alcohol; (5) the father had a criminal history and was
currently involved with the drug court program in Peoria
County; and (6) L.O.'s umbilical cord tested positive for
cocaine on the date of his birth. The father and respondent
filed answers to the amended juvenile neglect petition and
either stipulated to, or did not demand strict proof of, the
allegations contained in the petition.
5 In December 2014, an adjudicatory hearing was held on the
amended juvenile neglect petition. Respondent was present in
court for the hearing with her attorney. The father, who was
in prison, was not present at his own request. Based upon the
parties' answers to the amended petition, certain
exhibits that were presented (the medical and drug records
and the trial court files from the prior juvenile cases
involving respondent's other children), and a proffer
from the State, the trial court found that L.O. was a
6 A dispositional hearing was held immediately thereafter. A
dispositional report, one addendum, and an integrated
assessment report (collectively referred to as the
dispositional report or the report) had been prepared for the
hearing by the caseworker. Respondent did not show up for her
appointment with DCFS workers for the integrated assessment
interview, so information that had previously been gathered
had to be used for that portion of the integrated assessment.
Of relevance to this appeal, the dispositional report
indicated that the father was currently in prison. Respondent
was living at times with her mother and at other times with
her new boyfriend. Respondent had previously been referred
for the following services (presumably as a result of the
prior juvenile court cases involving her other children): (1)
to complete individual counseling, a domestic violence
course, and a parenting course; (2) to perform random drug
tests; and (3) to attend scheduled visits with her children.
According to the report, for the most part, respondent had
not been making progress on those services, although she had
attended a few counseling sessions. At the end of the report,
the caseworker recommended that respondent be ordered to
complete most of the same services.
7 During the dispositional hearing, the caseworker was
questioned by respondent's attorney about whether a
service plan had been filed and about the services that he
was recommending for respondent. The caseworker stated that
the family had a service plan in place, but it had not been
provided to the parties or to the court in this case because
it had not been updated. In addition, the family had a
visitation plan in place, which also had not been provided to
the parties or to the court in this case. When specifically
asked, the caseworker could provide no reason for why the
visitation plan had not been distributed. When asked about
the services he was recommending, the caseworker acknowledged
that he had not yet referred respondent for a new substance
abuse assessment and stated that he did not do so because he
did not want to overwhelm respondent. The caseworker
commented that in his experience, requiring too many services
at one time was a setup for failure.
8 During the argument portion of the dispositional hearing,
the State asked that the trial court adopt the
caseworker's recommendations, as contained in the
dispositional report, regarding the services or tasks that
respondent should be required to complete. In addition to
those services, the State also asked that respondent be
required to obtain a psychological evaluation and to
participate in an updated integrated assessment interview.
Respondent's attorney argued against some of the services
that had been recommended and asked the trial court to only
assign those services that respondent actually needed.
Respondent's attorney claimed that the caseworker had
ignored the one problem that respondent was known to have-a
substance abuse problem. Respondent's attorney pointed
out that pursuant to the applicable statutes, the caseworker
was supposed to file with the court a visitation plan within
10 days after the ...