from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third
Judicial District, Superior Court Nos. 3PA-15-00170,
3PA-15-00169. Palmer, Kari Kristiansen, Judge.
Attorney General, Fairbanks, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney
General, Juneau, for Appellee.
Appearances: Megan R. Webb, Assistant Public Defender, and
Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for Appellant
Violet C; Carolyn Perkins, Salt Lake City, Utah, for
Appellant Jack C.; Mary Ann Lundquist, Senior Assistant
Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maasen, and
superior court terminated a mother's and father's
parental rights, finding their two children were in need of
aid based on abandonment, incarceration, risk of domestic
violence, and substance abuse. The court also determined that
the Office of Children's Services (OCS) had satisfied its
duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify the parents and
children. The mother and father separately appealed the
court's reasonable-efforts determinations, and the mother
also appealed the court's findings that the children were
in need of aid based on abandonment and domestic violence. We
consolidated the appeals for consideration and decision.
Seeing no reversible error, we affirm the superior
court's decision to terminate the mother's and
father's parental rights.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
C. and Jack C. are the separated biological parents of Maggie
and Doug, eight-year-old twins. Jack was in a different state for
the entirety of the case and incarcerated for its majority.
Initial Reports And Removal
early August 2015 OCS received a report alleging that Violet
was addicted to substances and abusing alcohol. An OCS
caseworker visited the home, found no safety threats, and
left without taking action. The caseworker returned a few
weeks later after receiving renewed reports of harm. During
this visit Violet's grandmother relayed concerns about
Violet leaving the home and returning under the influence;
the grandmother reported that Violet bullied her by beating
on the door and yelling, and that Violet had once kicked a
hole in the door. Violet's grandmother also reported that
Violet once "grabbed [Maggie] by the arm and yanked her
up and hauled her out" of a bedroom.
caseworker observed that Violet had sores on her face and
legs, that she presented with jerky movements, and that she
continually paced and turned during their conversation.
Violet refused to allow OCS to assess the children or create
a protective action plan, but she agreed to participate in
urinalysis and hair follicle tests, which later yielded
positive drug results.
assumed custody of the twins in late August and filed for
their adjudication as children in need of aid shortly
OCS's Case Plan And Early Reunification Efforts
September Violet notified OCS that she has hearing and
mobility impairments; due to her disabilities, she requested
transportation funding, patience in communication, and
prioritization of in-person and email contact. OCS arranged
for transportation services to visitation, parenting classes,
treatment, and drug testing. OCS initially provided Violet
taxi vouchers through mid-October. Before approving further
taxi vouchers, it required documentation of her disabilities,
which Violet did not provide until the following March. In
the interim OCS arranged for third-party transportation
services beginning in December. Violet did not fully utilize
these services; testimony detailed multiple occasions when
she was unavailable for transportation she had previously
November 2015 case plan required Violet to submit to random
urinalysis tests, obtain a substance abuse assessment, follow
treatment recommendations, and participate in parenting
classes and mental health services. The case plan made no
mention of Violet's disabilities or accommodation
requests, instead noting that she was "physically
able" and "possesse[d] adequate energy."
inconsistently participated in supervised visitation.
Visitation temporarily ceased in January 2016 due to her
"excessive absences." She maintained telephonic
contact with the twins, and OCS asked their foster parent to
identify each voice and ensure they were not on the phone at
the same time.
OCS formulated Jack's case plan, he had recently been
released from incarceration in Florida and relocated to
Texas. He expressed an interest in having custody of the
children. OCS's case plan required Jack to complete a
substance abuse assessment and obtain treatment, participate
in parenting classes, and obtain a psychological assessment.
OCS worked with local providers to arrange the assessments.
never notified OCS that he had trouble accessing services,
and he later acknowledged that he "did not participate
in these services." An OCS caseworker testified that she
was unable to begin the process for placement with Jack under
the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)
because he had only recently been released from jail, moved
to a new home, and needed to first engage in services.
losing contact with Jack, OCS became aware at the
adjudication hearing of his reincarceration. OCS often had
trouble contacting Jack, unsuccessfully attempting to contact
him at the telephone number he provided, through his
attorney, and through the jail itself.
April 2016 the superior court issued its adjudication order,
finding that Maggie and Doug were children in need of aid
based on Jack's abandonment and incarceration and
Violet's substance abuse. The court found that OCS had
provided reasonable efforts to Jack but that OCS had not made
reasonable efforts to provide Violet remedial services and
allow the children to return to her care from September 2015
through February 2016. The court stated that OCS "viewed
[Violet's] documented disabilities with skepticism,
required outside verification of her disabilities, formulated
a case plan not tailored to her needs, failed to accommodate
[her] request for important information to be conveyed in
writing, and cut off transportation and service referral
funding in response to less-than-perfect performance."
court also found that OCS had provided Violet reasonable
efforts since March 2016, "after transportation
assistance resumed and [OCS] made better efforts to
communicate" with her. The court found that around
February 2016 OCS was able to obtain a transportation grant
allowing Violet to attend visitation, a drug assessment,
mental health appointments, and other services. The court
therefore ordered the children placed in OCS's temporary