Circuit Court for Baltimore City Petition No. 819004005
Arthur, Reed, JJ.
appeal challenges an order of shelter care for K.Y.-B. (the
"Child"), who was placed into the custody and care
of the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (the
"Department") on January 4, 2019, two days after
his birth. Through a series of subsequent orders, he remains
in shelter care more than seven months later, pending the
adjudication of the Department's petition to have the
Circuit Court for Baltimore City, sitting as a juvenile
court, declare him to be a child in need of assistance
a shelter care order entered on January 22, 2019, the
Child's mother, appellant N.Y.-F. ("Mother"),
raises the following questions:
1. Did the court err in awarding shelter care of K. Y.-B. to
the Baltimore City Department of Social Services?
2. Did the court err by granting the Department's request
to consent to immunizations for K. Y.-B. over the religious
objections of his mother?
Child moves to dismiss this appeal, arguing that it has been
mooted by subsequent orders resulting from proceedings at
which Mother allegedly waived her objections. In response,
Mother concedes that she consented to shelter care at a
hearing on April 4, 2019, but insists that she has maintained
her religious objection to vaccinations from the outset of
these proceedings and that she renewed her objection to
shelter care at the latest shelter care hearing on May 17,
conclude that Mother has waived her right to contest the
shelter care order by consenting to shelter care at a later
hearing, but that the order regarding vaccinations remains
ripe for a decision. We shall also conclude that the juvenile
court did not err or abuse its discretion in authorizing the
Department to obtain vaccinations for the Child. In doing so,
we shall clarify the standards governing a parent's
religious objection to vaccination in the context of a
shelter care proceeding.
GOVERNING CINA AND SHELTER CARE PROCEEDINGS
discussion of the record and issues raised by the parties
will be aided by a preliminary review of the law protecting a
child for whom the Department has sought assistance.
is "a child who requires court intervention because: (1)
The child has been abused, has been neglected, has a
developmental disability, or has a mental disorder; and (2)
The child's parents, guardian, or custodian are unable or
unwilling to give proper care and attention to the child and
the child's needs." Md. Code (1974, 2013 Repl. Vol.,
2018 Supp.), § 3-801(f), (g) of the Courts &
Judicial Proceedings Article ("CJP"). In
In re O.P., 240 Md.App. 518 (2019),
cert. granted, ___Md. ___(July 12, 2019), this Court
summarized the statutory scheme governing CINA proceedings:
Subtitle 8 [of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article]
establishes a comprehensive statutory scheme to govern
proceedings when a child is alleged to be a CINA. The statute
gives "exclusive original jurisdiction" to a
juvenile court over proceedings arising from CINA petitions,
id. § 3-803(a)(2), and establishes, among other
things, the scope of the court's jurisdiction over
children, venue for proceedings, assignment of judges, the
appointment and authority of juvenile magistrates, the review
of decisions or recommendations of magistrates to the
juvenile court, the confidentiality of proceedings, the scope
of a local department's obligation to make reasonable
efforts to reunify children and parents, and the State's
obligation to provide counsel to represent children, as well
as indigent parents and guardians of an alleged CINA, in CINA
proceedings, id. §§ 3-804, 3-805, 3-806,
3-807, 3-810, 3-812, & 3-813.
A local department of social services is required to file a
CINA petition if, after receiving "a complaint from a
person or agency," "it concludes that the court has
jurisdiction over the matter and that the filing of a
petition is in the best interests of the child."
Id. § 3-809(a). "A CINA petition . . .
shall allege that a child is in need of assistance and shall
set forth in clear and simple language the facts supporting
that allegation." Id. § 3-811(a)(1). Once
a CINA petition is filed, a juvenile court "shall hold
an adjudicatory hearing[, ]" id. §
3-817(a), for the purpose of "determin[ing] whether the
allegations in the petition, other than the allegation that
the child requires the court's intervention, are true[,
]" id. § 3-801(c). At the adjudicatory
hearing, the rules of evidence apply and the allegations of
the petition must "be proved by a preponderance of the
evidence." Id. § 3-817(b), (c).
Following an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile court must
"hold a separate disposition hearing," either
"on the same day as the adjudicatory hearing" or
later. Id. § 3-819(a). With respect to a child
who is alleged to be a CINA arising from abuse or neglect,
the court's disposition may entail (1) finding that the
child is not a CINA and terminating the case, (2) finding
that the child is not a CINA and awarding custody to a
noncustodial parent, or (3) finding that the child is a CINA
and making a custody determination from among various
options. See generally id. § 3-819.
Id. at 547-49.
care proceedings occur under a separate but related statutory
scheme, which authorizes removal of a child alleged or
adjudicated to be a CINA from his parents' custody in an
Section 3-815 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article
authorizes a local department that believes a child may be a
CINA to place the child in emergency shelter care under
certain circumstances. As explained further below, shelter
care is not a necessary stage in a CINA proceeding but
instead is a parallel proceeding to provide interim
protection for a child pending completion of the adjudicatory
hearing and disposition. Subsection (a) of § 3-815
provides the general authorization for emergency shelter
care: "In accordance with regulations adopted by the
Department of Human Services, a local department may
authorize shelter care for a child who may be in need of
assistance and has been taken into custody under this
subtitle." Subsection (b) then establishes the following
(b) A local department may place a child in emergency shelter
care before a hearing if:
(1)Placement is required to protect the child from serious
(2)There is no parent, guardian, custodian, relative, or
other person able to provide supervision; and
(3)(i) 1. The child's continued placement in the
child's home is contrary to the welfare of the child; and
2. Because of an alleged emergency situation, removal from
the home is reasonable under the circumstances to provide for
the safety of the child; or
(ii) 1. Reasonable efforts have been made but have been
unsuccessful in preventing or eliminating the need for
removal from the child's home; and
2. As appropriate, reasonable efforts are being made to
return the child to the child's home.
Following placement of a child in emergency shelter care,
"the local department shall immediately file a petition
to authorize continued shelter care." Id.
§ 3-815(c)(1). The court is required to "hold a
shelter care hearing on the petition before disposition to
determine whether the temporary placement of the child
outside of the home is warranted." Id. §
3-815(c)(2)(i). Absent good cause, the hearing must "be
held not later than the next day on which the circuit court
is in session." Id. § 3-815(c)(2)(ii).
. . . .
Subsection (d) provides the criteria for the circuit court to
use in determining whether to authorize continued shelter
(d) A court may continue shelter care beyond emergency
shelter care only if the court finds that:
(1) Return of the child to the child's home is contrary
to the safety and welfare of the child; and
(2)(i) Removal of the child from the child's home is
necessary due to an alleged emergency situation and in order
to provide for the safety of the child; or
(ii) Reasonable efforts were made but were unsuccessful in
preventing or eliminating the need for removal of the child
from the home.
The duration of a term of shelter care is expressly limited:
"A court may not order shelter care for more than 30
days except that shelter care may be extended for up to an
additional 30 days if the court finds after a hearing held as
part of an adjudication that continued shelter care is needed
to provide for the safety of the child." Id.
Id. at 549-51 (emphasis added).
January 2, 2019, Mother gave birth to the Child, her eighth,
at a Baltimore hospital. On January 4, 2019, before the Child
was discharged from the hospital, the Department filed a CINA
petition in which it sought immediate emergency shelter care
for the Child. The Child was placed into shelter care.
initial petition, the Department alleged that five of
Mother's seven living children had been found to be CINA
and had been committed to the Department. The petition made
the following allegations about Mother:
Mother was not cooperative with hospital staff at Mercy
Medical Center regarding [the Child's] medical care.
Mother refused referrals for services and was not
forth-coming [sic] with information about her children in
[Department] custody. She stated to the hospital that her
mother was responsible for the children being removed because
her mother used witchcraft. Mother did not begin prenatal
care until she was in her second trimester, citing religious
reasons. Later, [M]other stated that the reason she waited so
long to get prenatal care was that she did not want to go out
in the community so her mother would not see her pregnant and
take this baby away, too.
Department alleged that "Father is unable to provide
adequate care and protection for the [Child]." It
explained that Father wanted the Child's paternal
grandmother to be present while he was not at home, but that
Mother had said that the grandmother "was not welcome in
the home." Mother had also said that she and Father were
"in the process of divorcing."
last child, who was born in July 2017, had died of
"unknown causes" at the age of three months.
Another child had been hospitalized in 2016 for failure to
thrive because Mother and Father had not ensured that he
would receive treatment for congenital orthopedic deformities
and had not fed him properly. According to the petition,
Mother and Father had a long history of abuse and neglect of
their other children, including failing to ensure that the
children were up to date on their immunizations and failing
to obtain routine medical care.
petition went on to allege that Mother had a history of
mental health issues. She had been diagnosed with bipolar
disorder and depression, but disputed the diagnoses. She was
not taking any medications, but she did not provide the
Department with ...