- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A state appeals court has unanimously ruled that the Indiana Department of Child Services didn’t have the evidence it needed when four children were ordered into the child welfare system.

Judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday reversed the juvenile court’s decision regarding the four children, The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/1MWhjdo ) reports. The appeals court determined the Department of Child Services failed to prove the children were seriously endangered, that the parents weren’t able or willing to care for them, and that court intervention was necessary.

Department spokesman James Wide said the agency had gotten the appellate ruling and would meet with legal counsel on the case.

The department had filed the Child In Need of Services petitions in December 2014 after the youngest child tested positive for marijuana at birth, according to court records.

The boy’s mother tested negative for marijuana at the time, though she admitted to smoking marijuana once while pregnant but before she knew she was. She stopped as soon as she found out, court records say.



According to the court’s opinion, the Department of Child Services had found evidence of neglect against the parents three times before, once for marijuana use by the mother while pregnant and twice involving domestic violence among the parents.

The boy’s mother took random drug screens from January and April, with all of them coming back negative, according to court records. She also received home-based therapy.

Court records say the youngest child’s father moved out of the home voluntarily so the children wouldn’t be exposed to his drug use. He still paid for the family’s rent and utilities, and the boy’s mother testified that she could maintain housing and stability even if the boy’s father asked them to move out.

The court’s opinion, written by Judge John Baker, said there was “no evidence in the record” that at any time the children were endangered or lacked food, shelter love or care.

“All would be better served if the system focused its time, efforts and resources on the families who really need them,” Baker wrote. “This one did not.”

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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