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Case No. 20-0224

In the Interest of J.S., Minor Child

L.S., Father-Appellant

Attorney for Appellant Father

Dustin Baker

Attorney for Appellee State

Ellen Ramsey-Kacena, Assistant Attorney General

Guardian ad Litem

Kathryn A. Duccini

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Apr 15, 2020

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas J. Straka, Associate Juvenile Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J.  Special concurrence by Tabor, P.J.  (9 pages)

            A father appeals the juvenile court decision terminating his parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: We find there is clear and convincing evidence in the record to support termination of the father’s parental rights.  The father waived his claim concerning reasonable efforts by not raising it before the juvenile court.  We conclude termination of the father’s rights is in the child’s best interests.  We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.  SPECIAL CONCURRENCE ASSERTS: The Department of Human Services (DHS) is required to follow its statutory mandate to provide reunification services even when a parent is incarcerated.  Yet, it does not appear the DHS made any real effort to assess the feasibility of regular supervised visits between J.S. and his father when he was incarcerated in Wisconsin.  Lack of supervised visitation for the father during that time was a lost opportunity.  Resources are available to help parents’ attorneys navigate the issues facing incarcerated parents and the DHS workers must not operate on the assumption that incarcerated parents cannot be allowed visitation.

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