WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge.
Appellants appeal from the circuit court's order adjudicating appellants' child, C.B.4, born 5/19/2015, as dependent-neglected. Appellants' sole argument on appeal is that there was insufficient evidence to support the circuit court's finding that C.B.4 was dependent-neglected. We affirm.
DHS encountered appellants on December 20, 2013, after receiving a referral with allegations of environmental neglect involving their three children C.B.1, born 5/7/2010; C.B.2, born 6/25/2011; and C.B.3, born 1/27/2014. Finding appellants' home filled with dirt, debris, and filth in every room, the report was found to be true. A protective services case was opened on the three children, during which it was learned that appellants had given six other children to the maternal grandparents due to environmental neglect and had not seen those six children in "about 2 years."
DHS continued to contact appellants regarding the environmental neglect, which did not get better, and continued when appellants moved to another home. Appellants denied that they needed help with organization or cleaning or that parenting classes were needed. Appellants declined intensive family services. Appellants told the family service worker not to come to their home and moved without notifying DHS, though the worker was given directions to the new home. Upon arrival at the new home on July 19, 2014, Jennifer refused to let the worker in the home. The worker was put on the phone with Chris who told her not to come to the house when he was not there, on weekends, or late at night.
After being referred for services with Seven Hills Homeless Center (Seven Hills), appellants lied about having custody of their three children in the home in order to get a three-bedroom house, and Chris stopped working once the program began paying appellants' bills.
A three-day hearing was held on DHS's petition.
The circuit court went on to state, "I know [the appellants are] raising [C.B.4] fine. I'm actually convinced [C.B.4] is not in danger right now. However based on all of this history he could be in danger when all these other kids are around." The circuit court entered an order on November 23, 2015, adjudicating C.B.4 dependent-neglected on account of neglect and parental unfitness. This timely appeal followed.
Adjudication hearings are held to determine whether the allegations in a petition are substantiated by the proof.
DHS must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that C.B.4 was dependent-neglected.
Appellants argue on appeal that there was insufficient evidence to support the circuit court's finding that C.B.4 was dependent-neglected. They specifically argue that the insufficiency arises from the fact that C.B.4 was not at substantial risk of harm at the time of adjudication and the fact that the potential for harm, according to the circuit court, came from the contingency of appellants receiving custody of their three other children who were in foster care at the time. DHS argues that the circuit court was "well within the scope of the "`sibling adjudication' element of the Juvenile Code" in adjudicating C.B.4 dependent-neglected. We agree with DHS.
In December 2013 — sixteen months before DHS's August 2015 petition — DHS had investigated and substantiated reports of severe environmental neglect in the Beans' household. DHS attempted, unsuccessfully, to resolve these environmental neglect issues for nearly seven months. C.B.4's three older siblings were removed from appellants and placed into foster care on July 19, 2014. C.B.4 was born on May 19, 2015, ten months after the removal of the three older siblings. The older siblings were still in foster care at the time DHS filed the petition for dependency-neglect regarding C.B.4 on August 19, 2015. The caseworker's affidavit, which was attached to the dependency-neglect petition regarding C.B.4, alleged that Jennifer "lied to the Department for several months by telling worker she was not pregnant." The affidavit also recounted that DHS's difficulties with appellants had persisted, noting for example, that appellants had received housing support under false pretenses by failing to disclose to the support agency that their three children had been removed from the home, and that Chris had stopped working shortly after the social services agency began paying their bills. The caseworker also stated that visits were not going well and that Jennifer was not holding the infant C.B.4's head correctly. Also recounted in the affidavit was the long history between DHS and appellants that involved multiple children and environmental neglect, inadequate supervision, and medical neglect going back to 2003.
An adjudication of dependency-neglect based on a prior adjudication of a sibling should never be an automatic decision. Given the facts and evidence before it, we agree with DHS that the circuit court had more than a preponderance of the evidence of a substantial risk of serious harm to C.B.4. It is clear that its decision was not automatic. Furthermore, while the court's finding was based in part on the contingency of the return of C.B.4's three older siblings to appellants' care, such a consideration does not constitute error because substantial risk speaks in terms of future harm.
Gladwin, C.J., and Hoofman, J., agree.