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People ex rel. H. T.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Fifth Division

May 9, 2019

The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellant, In the Interest of H.T., a Child, and Concerning G.M., Respondent-Appellee.

          Larimer County District Court No. 17JV42 Honorable Stephen J. Jouard, Judge.

          Jeannine S. Haag, City Attorney, Arthur J. Spicciati, Assistant City Attorney, Fort Collins, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellant

          Josi McCauley, Guardian Ad Litem

          Chelsea Carr, Office of Respondent Parents' Counsel, Longmont, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellee

          OPINION

          GROVE JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 In this dependency and neglect proceeding, the Larimer County Department of Human Services appeals the juvenile court's dispositional order directing the Department to pay for father's offense specific treatment. Because we conclude that initial dispositional orders, by themselves, are not final and appealable, we dismiss the appeal.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 In February 2017, the Larimer County Department of Human Services filed a petition in dependency or neglect after the eight-year-old child, H.T., acted out sexually with her sister and alleged sexual abuse by her father during a forensic interview.

         ¶ 3 On March 20, 2017, father, G.M., received a copy of the proposed treatment plan. The plan required father to complete an offense specific evaluation and comply with its recommendations. Although the child had yet to be adjudicated dependent or neglected, father submitted a "position statement" requesting the court to order the Department to pay for the evaluation and treatment. The Department responded that it lacked the money to pay for the evaluation and treatment and "its policy is to not pay for such evaluations and recommendations."

         ¶ 4 In July 2017, father stipulated to a deferred adjudication. The stipulation stated that "the parties agree and consent that the Court shall hold a hearing regarding financial responsibility for the costs" of treatment.

         ¶ 5 A month after father stipulated to the deferred adjudication, the Department filed what appears to be a modified treatment plan incorporating recommendations from an offense specific evaluation. Father again filed a motion requesting, in relevant part, that the Department bear the costs for the recommended treatment. The Department again responded that it was unable to pay for the treatment "per Department policy."

         ¶ 6 Five months later, the court heard evidence about father's need for offense specific treatment and inability to pay for it. After the hearing, the Department requested an additional week "to file a written statement regarding the County's position on payment for funds." The Department then filed a statement that it did not have funding to pay for father's offense specific therapy, that it provided father with rent money to offset the cost of the initial offense specific evaluation, that it could not be reimbursed by the state for offense specific treatment, and that no statutory authority existed for the court to order the Department to pay for a certain service.

         ¶ 7 The court found that father was financially unable to pay for the treatment and ordered the Department to "either pay for the appropriate treatment or modify or eliminate the requirements from the treatment plan so that [father] has a reasonable opportunity to comply with the treatment plan and progress forward." The next day, father agreed to the entry of a formal adjudication.

         ¶ 8 The court then entered a dispositional order that father's initial treatment plan dated March 20, 2017 - not the amended treatment plan - was approved and adopted as an order of the court. The Department acknowledged the ...


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