M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 6612173 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

This case was previously brought before the Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) and the court reversed termination of the Mother’s rights and directed the court to determine whether the evidence supported adjudication of dependency rather than termination. M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 186 So. 3d 74 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016). On remand, without hearing any additional evidence, the trial court adjudicated the children dependent pursuant to Florida Statues §§ 39.01(41) and 39.01(44). Mother appealed adjudication. The Third DCA affirmed as to E.C. but reversed as to G.C.

Florida Statute § 39.01(41) provides for a finding of dependency based upon medical neglect. Section 39.01(44) provides for a finding of dependency based on neglect, defined as a situation when a child is living in an “environment [which] causes the child’s physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.”

The Third DCA found that Mother’s failure to examine and attend to E.C.’s serious injuries supported a finding of medical and general neglect. The Third DCA did not find sufficient evidence to support a finding of neglect as to G.C. G.C. suffers from mental health and behavioral challenges. He was a frequent runaway and was Baker Acted two days prior to E.C.’s injury. A child psychiatrist had been working with G.C. for the six months prior to E.C.’s injury. He prescribed G.C. Adderall but felt Mother was “a bit overwhelmed by the situation because the child was very difficult.” The trial court did not find Mother’s testimony that she ensured G.C. took his medication to be credible.

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