February 2, 2017
from Superior Court, judicial district of Litchfield,
Juvenile Matters, Ginocchio, J.)
B. Rozwaski, assigned counsel, for the appellant (respondent
Cynthia E. Mahon, assistant attorney general, with whom, on
the brief, were George Jepsen, attorney general, and Benjamin
Zivyon, assistant attorney general, for the appellee
Geraldine Mann, for the minor child.
Alvord, Bentivegna and Pellegrino, Js.
respondent mother, Ashley R., appeals from the judgment of
the trial court, rendered in favor of the petitioner, the
Commissioner of Children and Families, terminating her
parental rights with respect to her minor child, Savannah
On appeal, the respondent claims that the court improperly
determined that (1) the Department of Children and Families
(department) made reasonable reunification efforts, (2) she
had failed to achieve a sufficient degree of personal
rehabilitation to encourage a belief that she could assume a
responsible position in Savannah's life within a
reasonable period of time, (3) there was no ongoing
parent-child relationship, and (4) termination of her
parental rights was in the best interest of the child. We
affirm the judgment of the court.
forth the following relevant facts and procedural history. In
April, 2014, the department received a report of domestic
violence in Savannah's home and opened the present case.
That report involved the respondent and Savannah's
father, D.Y. On June 22, 2014, D.Y. was arrested for
allegedly strangling and assaulting the respondent. The
respondent's children were present during this event.
Following the assault, a full protective order was imposed
between D.Y. and the respondent. On two different occasions,
D.Y. violated the protective order when he was found present
in the respondent's home. In addition to the reported
domestic violence, the department was also concerned with
issues relating to ‘‘alcoholism, hygiene and
unkempt conditions in the home.''
the initial referral, the department worked with the
respondent and D.Y. for several months. These efforts were
unsuccessful. On September 24, 2014, the order of temporary
custody was filed and granted for Savannah. On March 9, 2015,
the court adjudicated Savannah neglected and committed her to
the care, custody and control of the petitioner. On August 5,
2015, a permanency plan of termination of parental rights and
adoption was approved. Thereafter, on January 15, 2016, the
petitioner filed a petition to terminate the rights of both
a trial, the court granted the petition, making the following
findings of fact by clear and convincing evidence. Savannah
was born in July, 2013. The respondent has given birth to
several children and currently has two children, Savannah and
Carter O. She also gave birth to another child named
Mercedes. In 2007, Mercedes died tragically when she was
crushed by boxes that fell onto her from a closet above. This
traumatic event significantly impacted the respondent's
respondent has been in several romantic relationships
throughout her life, including relationships with S.O. and
D.Y. She met S.O. while working at a restaurant in 2004.
There was a history of domestic violence throughout the
respondent's relationship with S.O. Following the death
of Mercedes, S.O. became physically abusive and the
respondent expressed that their relationship
‘‘just was not working out and it was too
stressful for him.'' The respondent and D.Y. later
met through mutual friends, and their relationship was also
abusive. The respondent and D.Y. separated because D.Y.
became violent toward her. The respondent is currently not in
a relationship with S.O., D.Y., or anyone else.
respondent has a history of mental health and substance abuse
issues that have existed and persisted since the birth of
Savannah. Although the respondent has received some treatment
to address these issues, she has not consistently complied
with her various treatment plans. At one point, the
respondent had stopped treatment services entirely, but she
reengaged in October, 2014. Notably, the respondent did not
participate in mental health treatment of any sort from
February through September, 2015.
respondent also has a criminal history. Recently, the
respondent was incarcerated from June 23 through September
17, 2015. The respondent was released to a transitional
housing program in September, 2015 as a requirement of the
pretrial phase of her criminal case.
court concluded ‘‘by clear and convincing
evidence that [the department] has made reasonable efforts to
reunify [the respondent] with Savannah and/ or [the
respondent] is unable and/or unwilling to benefit from
reunification efforts.'' The court further concluded
that ‘‘[a]fter due consideration of the
child's sense of time, her need for a secure and
permanent environment and the totality of the circumstances;
and having concluded that grounds exist for termination of
parental rights; and having considered all the statutory
criteria and having found by clear and convincing evidence
that grounds exist for termination of parental rights; and
having concluded that termination of the parental rights at
issue will be in the child's best interests, ''
the court terminated the parental rights of the respondent
mother and the child's father. The respondent's
respondent raises three claims arising from the adjudication
phase of the termination proceeding. She claims that the
court erred with respect to: (1) its reasonable efforts
determination; (2) the respondent's failure to
rehabilitate; and (3) the lack of an ongoing parent-child
relationship. After ...