CARE AND PROTECTION OF VICK. 
HEARD: May 10, 2016.
filed in the Plymouth County Division of the Juvenile Court
Department on November 25, 2013.
case was heard by John P. Corbett, J.
O. Young for the mother.
Rizwanul Huda for the child.
Sookyoung Shin, Assistant Attorney General, for Department of
Children and Families.
M. Toomey for the father.
Present: Cypher, Blake, & Henry, JJ.
of the Juvenile Court found that the child was in need of
care and protection, that the mother was unfit to assume
parental responsibility, and that the unfitness was likely to
continue into the indefinite future. On appeal, the mother
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the
judge's conclusion that she was unfit, contending that
the evidence failed to establish a nexus between her
parenting and a showing of harm to the child. She also claims
that the judge did not conduct an evenhanded assessment of
the evidence, and ignored the child's preference to live
with his mother. The child joins in these arguments. We
affirm on the basis that the mother was unfit to assume
parental responsibility due to neglect of the child.
summarize the relevant facts and procedural history as set
forth in the judge's decision and as supported by the
record, reserving other facts for later discussion. The
parents met in high school and, shortly thereafter, the
mother became pregnant. The child was born in February, 2002.
Immediately after his birth, and for the next four and
one-half years, the father was the child's primary
caretaker; during that time period, the father and child
lived with the father's mother. When the father lost his
job, he placed the child in the mother's care. In 2008,
the father moved to Georgia, where he has extended family,
because he was unable to find employment in Massachusetts.
Despite the distance, the father maintained contact with the
child's schools and medical providers. From 2008 to 2013,
the child spent most of his summers with the father in
2013, the mother resided in Brockton with the child, her
sister (aunt), and her father (grandfather). She also had a
residence in Stoughton. In November of that year, the police
responded to the Brockton home after the aunt fell in the
shower. Following that incident, the Department of Children
and Families (DCF) received three reports, filed pursuant to
G. L. c. 119, § 51A (51A reports), each alleging the
neglect of the child by the mother. The primary concerns
expressed were the condition of the mother's Brockton
home, the lack of food available, and the exposure of the
child to drug abuse. The 51A reports were investigated and
the mother failed to cooperate or provide access to the
Brockton home, on November 25, 2013, DCF filed a care and
protection petition pursuant to G. L. c. 119, § 24,
alleging that the child was in need of care and protection.
On December 5, 2013, a stipulation of conditional custody was
approved allowing the mother to have continuing custody of
the child. On February 10, 2015, DCF removed the
child following the mother's failure to comply with her
DCF plan. Following a trial, the judge found the mother unfit
to parent the child and the father fit to assume parental
responsibility, and awarded custody of the child to the
father pending the outcome of a home study of the
father's residence. This appeal followed.