Franks v. State (In re M.-A.F.-S.), No. 76170-6-I

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtSchindler, J.
Citation415 P.3d 1239
Decision Date30 April 2018
Docket NumberNo. 76170-6-I,C/w No. 76171-4-I
Parties In the MATTER OF the DEPENDENCY OF M.-A.F.-S., dob 4/13/2011, and V.F.-C., dob 11/21/2007, Minor children. Stephanie Franks, Appellant, v. State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Respondent.

415 P.3d 1239

In the MATTER OF the DEPENDENCY OF M.-A.F.-S., dob 4/13/2011, and V.F.-C., dob 11/21/2007, Minor children.

Stephanie Franks, Appellant,
State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Respondent.

No. 76170-6-I
C/w No. 76171-4-I

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1.

FILED: April 30, 2018

Jennifer J. Sweigert, Nielsen Broman & Koch PLLC, Attorney at Law, 1908 E Madison St., Seattle, WA, 98122-2842 for Appellant.

David W. La Raus, Attorney at Law, Social & Health Services A.g. Office, Attorney at Law, Kelly L. Taylor, Office of the Attorney General, 800 5th Ave. Ste. 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104-3188 for Respondent.

Kathleen Carney Martin, Dependency CASA Program, 401 4th Ave. N, Rm. 3081, Kent, WA, 98032-4429 for Guardian(s) Ad Litem.

Lisa Ann Kelly, Devon Carroll Knowles, University of Washington School of Law, PO Box 85110, William H. Gates Hall, Ste. 265, Seattle, WA, 98145-1110, Stacey Lara, Alicia Marie Levezu, Attorney at Law, University of Washington School of Law, 4293 Memorial Way Nw, Seattle, WA, 98195-0001 for Amicus Curiae on behalf of Child Welfare Law Professors.


Schindler, J.

415 P.3d 1243

¶ 1 Stephanie Franks is the mother of M.-A.F.-S. and V.F.-C. After a lengthy dependency to allow Franks to address her severe drug addiction, the court terminated her parental rights to the two children. Franks contends the termination statutes, RCW 13.34.180 and .190, are unconstitutional both facially and as applied. Franks also contends the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (Department) did not prove all statutory elements or that termination was in the best interest of the children. We hold neither the statutory scheme nor case law support the constitutional challenge to the termination statutes. Substantial evidence supports the extensive findings of fact and the conclusion that the Department proved by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that it offered or provided all necessary and available services capable of correcting parental deficiencies; that Franks had notice of parental deficiencies and the grounds for termination; that Franks was currently unfit to parent her children; and that termination is in the best interests of the children. We affirm the order terminating Franks' parental rights to M.-A.F.-S. and V.F.-C.2


¶ 2 Stephanie Franks is the mother of four children, A.L.-C., date of birth July 22, 2003; V.F.-C., date of birth November 21, 2007; M.-A.F.-S., date of birth April 13, 2011; and I.T.-V., date of birth November 12, 2012.

¶ 3 Franks has a long history of severe methamphetamine and marijuana addiction. Franks tested positive for marijuana at the birth of V.F.-C. in November 2007 and at the birth of M.-A.F.-S. in April 2011. Franks admitted using methamphetamine and marijuana while pregnant with M.-A.F.-S. From June 2011 through November 2012, Franks agreed to participate in services. Franks obtained a substance abuse evaluation at New Traditions. The Department also referred Franks for a neuropsychological evaluation and mental health counseling services. Franks did not follow through with substance abuse treatment and declined to engage in mental health services.

¶ 4 I.T.-V. was born on November 12, 2012. Franks and I.T.-V. tested positive for amphetamines. Franks admitted using methamphetamine during the pregnancy. The Department removed the four children from her care and filed a dependency petition. At the shelter care hearing, the Department placed I.T.-V. with his father. The Department later dismissed the dependency as to I.T.-V.

¶ 5 On January 11, 2013, Franks entered an agreed dependency order for A.L.-C., V.F.-C., and M.-A.F.-S. Franks stipulated to the facts establishing dependency, including her long and severe history of substance abuse, drug use during pregnancy, and not following through with substance abuse treatment, mental health services, or counseling. Franks stipulated there was "no parent, guardian or custodian capable of adequately caring for the children, such that the children are in circumstances which constitute a danger of substantial damage to the children's psychological or physical development."3 The court found by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that "a manifest danger exists that the children will suffer serious abuse or neglect if the children are not removed from the home."

¶ 6 The court entered a disposition order. The order requires Franks to follow the November 2012 New Traditions substance

415 P.3d 1244

abuse evaluation treatment recommendations, obtain random urinalyses (UAs) with clear results for 90 days, obtain a parenting assessment, follow treatment recommendations, and participate in mental health counseling. Franks expressly acknowledged she understood the terms of the order, including "my responsibility to participate in remedial services," and entry of the dependency order "starts a process that could result in the filing of a petition to terminate my relationship with my children if I fail to comply with the terms of this order and/or I fail to substantially remedy the problems that caused the children's out-of-home placement."

¶ 7 The Department placed the three children with a maternal cousin. The court authorized supervised visitation for Franks and the children two times a week. Department social worker Sarah Bergner provided referrals to Franks for court-ordered services, including a mental health evaluation and parenting assessment.

¶ 8 In July 2013, Franks absconded with the children. Approximately a month later, the Department placed the children in licensed foster care.

¶ 9 The court order following the February 2014 dependency review hearing states the primary permanency plan is return of the children to Franks and adoption. In an April 10, 2014 letter to Franks, Bergner reiterated the court-ordered requirements and asked Franks to contact her.

I have attempted to call you multiple times without success. Please, provide me with your current contact information. It is my hope that together we can ensure the on-going safety of your children.[4 ]

¶ 10 After failing to complete an outpatient substance abuse program, Franks enrolled in an inpatient treatment program at Seattle Drug and Narcotic Center (Seadrunar) in July 2014. Seadrunar terminated Franks from the program for rule violations. Franks admitted she relapsed. Franks testified that at the time, she was "using" drugs about "75 percent of the time." The court changed the primary permanency plan to adoption.

¶ 11 In December 2014, the Department filed a petition to terminate Franks' parental rights to A.L.-C., V.F.-C., and M.-A.F.-S. The petition alleged that beginning with voluntary services in 2011, the Department offered referrals and services to address her substance abuse but Franks repeatedly failed to enter and complete substance abuse treatment and had been terminated from Seadrunar. The petition alleged Franks "has declined to participate in mental health counseling or a parenting assessment, stating that she wants to obtain sobriety before participating in these services." The petition alleged there was "little likelihood" conditions would be remedied in the near future.

The mother has a long history of substance abuse. The Department has provided her with numerous referrals and voluntary services to address her needs. Since dependency was established, she has not complied with court ordered services or maintained consistent contact with the Department.


The mother has also not engaged in mental health counseling or a parenting assessment. The mother told the Department she wants to obtain sobriety before participating in these services.


The mother has had regular visitation with the children, however the number of weekly visits have reduced at the mother's requests, because she reports the visits are too upsetting to the children. The caretaker who supervises the visits reports that the children cry and act out during the visits, that the mother is unable to control the children, and that the children display behavioral issues following the visits.

¶ 12 In April 2015, Franks reentered inpatient treatment at Seadrunar. Franks told the court that she wanted to continue substance abuse treatment and planned to participate in the other court-ordered services. Beginning in May 2015, the court entered a series of agreed orders to continue the termination trial to allow Franks to participate in services.

¶ 13 Department social worker Larry Nelson was assigned to work with Franks and

415 P.3d 1245

the children in July 2015. Franks was living at Seadrunar. Franks was doing well. She spent time with the children on a regular basis. In September 2015, Franks left Seadrunar. Franks did not complete the Seadrunar program. Instead, Franks enrolled in an intensive outpatient treatment program at New Traditions. New Traditions diagnosed Franks with a severe amphetamine and cannabis use disorder.

¶ 14 Franks participated in a psychosocial and parenting evaluation with Dr. Carmela Washington-Harvey in November and December 2015. Dr. Washington-Harvey did not identify any clinical problems, parenting behaviors, attitudes, personality traits, or...

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