Asked in Education Law, Family Law and Juvenile Law for Alaska

Q: Can ocs in Anchorage ak go talk to a minor without a parent at a elementary school?

1 Lawyer Answer
Blake Fulton Quackenbush
Blake Fulton Quackenbush
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Licensed in Alaska

A: Parents of children have rights, and parents can contact a knowledgeable attorney at any stage of the process of the Office of Children's Services ("OCS") investigating and/or the state removing a child from their home. Our office has years of experience litigating child custody cases and Child in Need of Aid Cases ("CINA" cases, pronounced "China"). Other states have different names for CINA cases. For example, in Washington, they are called “dependency” cases.

OCS is permitted to investigate allegations of abuse or neglect, but it's important to remember that just because there is an allegation or an investigation it does not mean anyone did anything wrong. An investigation just means that someone made an allegation and OCS is looking into the allegation to see if there is evidence that supports or substantiates the allegation. Sometimes an investigation can result in a report being "substantiated" or "unsubstantiated," but that too does not necessarily mean that a parent's rights as to the child will be adversely affected. Other times, OCS investigates and nothing happens.

If, after an investigation, if the evidence discovered by OCS reaches a certain level of seriousness, they can go to the state and seek to have the state remove a child from his or her home. However, before doing so, the state must petition the court to approve the removal. The parents are immediately notified is removal occurs.

CINA cases differ from ordinary custody cases because in CINA cases the state has legal authority over the children, and the dispute is between the state and the parents. In ordinary custody cases, the court is deciding custody disputes between parents or other family members and a child welfare agency is generally not involved.

If your children are being investigated or if your children have been removed from your home, you should speak to a competent lawyer about your rights.

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