Elba Ganter v. Arkansas Department of Health & Human Services

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ARKANSAS COURT OF APPEALS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION D.P. MARSHALL JR., JUDGE DIVISION III CA06-1229 7 March 2007 ELBA GANTER, APPELLANT v. ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT HUMAN JUDGE SERVICES, APPELLEE AN APPEAL FROM THE UNION COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [JV-2004-74] HONORABLE EDWIN A. KEATON, OF HEALTH & AFFIRMED Elba Ganter appeals the termination of her parental rights to her children, J.G. and C.G. Ganter argues that the circuit court erred because she complied with all the requirements in her Department of Health and Human Services case plan and remedied the conditions that prompted DHHS to remove her children from her home. We affirm the circuit court’s judgment. The statute requires the circuit court to find, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of parental rights is in the children’s best interest and that at least one additional statutory ground for termination exists. Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3) (Supp. 2005). Here the circuit court found that termination was in both children’s best interest and found two additional grounds for termination: (1) that J.G. and C.G. have resided outside Ganter’s home for more than one year and, despite a meaningful effort by DHHS to rehabilitate the home and correct the conditions that caused removal, Ganter has not remedied those conditions, Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27341(b)(3)(B)(i); and (2) that Ganter’s psychological problems render the children’s return to her home contrary to their health, safety, or welfare and that Ganter has manifested an incapacity or indifference to remedying her psychological problems despite DHHS’s offer of family services, Ark. Code Ann. § 9-27-341(b)(3)(B)(vii). On appeal, Ganter challenges the circuit court’s finding that she has not provided a suitable living environment for J.G. and C.G. She points out that two of her DHHS caseworkers testified that she had complied with all the requirements in her case plan. In fact, DHHS ordered one caseworker to recommend that Ganter’s parental rights be terminated even though the caseworker did not agree that termination was appropriate. But Ganter does not challenge the circuit court’s alternative ground for termination—that she has been indifferent to, or unable to remedy, her psychological problems. Therefore, even if Ganter were to prevail about the improvements in her home, we cannot reverse in light of her failure to attack the circuit court’s independent, 2 alternative basis for its decision. Pugh v. State, 351 Ark. 5, 11, 89 S.W.3d 909, 912 (2002). By not addressing the circuit court’s findings that her unresolved psychological problems adversely affect her children, Ganter has conceded this point on appeal. Benedict v. Arkansas Department of Human Services, __ Ark. App. __, __ S.W.3d __ (November 1, 2006). In Benedict, we reversed an order terminating parental rights even though Benedict abandoned several grounds for termination on appeal. Id. We did so because we agreed with Benedict’s argument that terminating her parental rights was not in her children’s best interest. Id. Unlike Benedict, however, Ganter only challenges one specific ground for termination. She does not challenge the circuit court’s threshold finding that termination is in her children’s best interest. Because Ganter has neither challenged each alternative ground for termination, nor directly challenged the circuit court’s finding that termination was in her children’s best interest, we affirm. GLOVER and BAKER, JJ., agree. 3