Supreme Court of Alaska (2022)
In Rock H. v. State, Department of Health & Social Services, 2022 WL 2236187 (Alaska 2022) (unpublished), the supreme court held that the superior court did not err in finding that a child was in need of aid, and that the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) made reasonable efforts overall to reunite the child and her father. (Id. at *4–6). After the child tested positive at birth for several controlled substances, OCS placed her in a foster home and set up a family contact plan for the father. (Id. at *1). He failed to attend five scheduled visits the next month, and his visitation rights were suspended. (Id.). Over the next year, the father made some efforts to see his child, but he did not visit consistently due to his incarceration, the COVID-19 pandemic, and required drug testing in a different city from his daughter. (Id. at *2). On petition by OCS, the superior court terminated the father’s parental rights, finding that the child was a child in need and that OCS made reasonable efforts to return the child to her family home. (Id. at *3). The father appealed. (Id.). The supreme court affirmed the superior court’s decision, reasoning that the father’s occasional visits amounted to only “minimal efforts” and met the criteria for child abandonment. (Id. at *4). The court acknowledged that OCS did not document reasonable efforts to reunify the child and her father for a three-month period, but held that OCS made reasonable efforts in the case overall. (Id. at *6). Affirming the superior court’s decision, the supreme court held that the superior court did not err in finding that a child was in need of aid due to abandonment, and that OCS made reasonable efforts overall to reunite the child and her father. (Id. at *4–6).