In re AL. S. and AN. S., Minors
Glen Christians, Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,
from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 16JA18 Honorable
Brett N. Olmstead, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion,
Presiding Justice Turner and Justice Pope concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 In May 2016, the State filed a petition for adjudication of
wardship, alleging Al. S. (born April 9, 2016) and An. S.
(born April 10, 2015) were neglected children as defined by
the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(a),
(b) (West 2014)). Samantha S., born in 1998, is the
minors' biological mother, and respondent, Glen
Christians, is the biological father of An. S. The record
fails to include respondent's paternity results for Al.
2 In July 2016, Samantha S. and respondent admitted and
stipulated to the State's petition. The trial court
entered an adjudicatory order finding the minors to be
neglected. Following a September 2016 dispositional hearing,
the court (1) made both minors wards of the court, (2)
granted guardianship of the minors to the Department of
Children and Family Services (DCFS), (3) found respondent
unfit to care for either minor, (4) found Samantha S. unfit
to care for Al. S., (5) found it was in Al. S.'s best
interest to grant custody to DCFS, (6) found Samantha S. fit,
willing, and able to care for An. S., and (7) found it was in
An. S.'s best interest to allow Samantha S. to retain
3 Respondent appeals, arguing the trial court erred by
allowing Samantha S. to retain custody of An. S. Respondent
maintains the court should have transferred custody to DCFS.
4 I. BACKGROUND
5 A. State's Petition
6 In May 2016, the State filed a petition for adjudication of
wardship, alleging the minors were neglected. At the time the
petition was filed, Samantha S. was 18 years old and
respondent was 20 years old. Count I of the petition alleged
Al. S. was a neglected child as defined by section 2-3(1)(a)
of the Act (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(a) (West 2014)) because she
was not receiving the proper or necessary remedial care when
residing with Samantha S. and, as a result, was medically
diagnosed with failure to thrive. Count II alleged An. S. was
a neglected child as defined by section 2-3(1)(b) of the Act
(705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West 2014)) because she was
subjected to an injurious environment when residing with
Samantha S. given Al. S.'s diagnosis. Count III alleged
Al. S. and An. S. were neglected children as defined by
section 2-3(1)(b) of the Act (705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b) (West
2014)) because they were subjected to an injurious
environment when residing with Samantha S. or respondent due
to their exposure to domestic violence.
7 B. Shelter-Care Hearing
8 Following the filing of the State's petition, the trial
court held a shelter-care hearing. The court appointed a
guardian ad litem (GAL) for the minors and
admonished respondent and Samantha S. of their rights to be
present, to examine pertinent court files and records, to
cross-examine witnesses, to present evidence, to have
subpoenas issued, and to testify.
9 The trial court was presented with a DCFS shelter-care
report. It also took judicial notice of Champaign County case
No. 15-OP-500, wherein Samantha S. had obtained an order of
protection against respondent on April 26, 2016. The State
elicited testimony from a DCFS investigator and an intact
family services case manager. The State also introduced Al.
S.'s medical records, which were admitted into evidence
without objection. The following is a summary of the evidence
and testimony as it relates to Samantha S. and the minors.
10 On January 28, 2016, an intact family services case was
opened after a domestic violence incident occurred between
Samantha S. and her mother. Samantha S. was initially
uncooperative with signing paperwork but later became
compliant. Samantha S.'s behavior was described as
unpredictable and at times disrespectful. Samantha S. was
directed to attend counseling, a homebound school program,
and prenatal doctor's appointments, all of which she
began. Samantha S. also disclosed an additional domestic
violence incident occurred between her and respondent the
previous fall. The intact family services case manager
maintained weekly visits with Samantha S. and An. S.
11 In March 2016, Samantha S.'s attendance at counseling
became inconsistent due to a high-risk pregnancy. Following
Al. S.'s April 2016 birth, Samantha S. was discharged
from counseling for failure to contact. Samantha S. was never
given an additional referral to counseling. The case manager
believed Samantha ...