NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES VS. L.J.D.IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF A.T.D., A MINOR A-5896-10T3We examine a young mother's challenges to a judgment of guardianship terminating her parental rights. Appellant was fourteen when her son was born and she was a child in the custody of the Division of Youth and Family Services, now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Appellant's placement required her child to be placed in the Division's custody.
Significant is Appellant's challenge that the Division failed to extend reasonable efforts to provide services to aid correction of circumstances necessitating her child's placement. Claiming her age caused the child's removal, appellant suggests the Division must continue services that previously were unsuccessful because of her youth.
In making the required fact-sensitive review of whether the services extended were reasonable, we believe the Division's burden, in this exceptional instance, is a heightened one, dictated by the special circumstance posed by a child-parent's young age. We conclude the Division's efforts must include satisfactory services to aid the development of the child- parent's maturation and necessary skills to adequately parent his or her child. The balancing test considers, on the one hand, the child-parent's abilities, motivations, capabilities and other familial resources to reach this goal, and, on the other hand, the infant's need for achieving stability and permanency within a reasonable time period. 10-17-12