Non-Emergency Temporary Custody
If the situation is not an emergency, OCS must file a petition for temporary custody with the court before removing you from your home. OCS has to notify your parents, your grandparents, any out-of- home care provider, your tribe (if you are an Alaska Native or American Indian child), and your guardian ad litem, if you have one. The people OCS notifies can participate in the temporary custody hearing. At this hearing, the court will decide if you need to be away from your parents to be safe.
After the temporary custody hearing, the court must hold an adjudication hearing within 120 days. At this hearing the court must decide if you are indeed in need of aid. The court must also decide if you should stay in OCS custody away from your home, or if you can return to your parents’ care with OCS supervision.
The court finds a child to be in need of aid because the parents’ behavior is dangerous to the child. This may happen if parents:
- abandon or neglect the child;
- are in prison or absent without arranging for the child’s care;
- cannot be found, and someone who is taking care of the child can’t continue to do so;
- refuse to get medical care for a child who needs treatment to prevent physical or mental harm;
- have caused or will cause physical harm to the child;
- cause the child to be the victim of sexual abuse or at risk of sexual abuse;
- cause mental injury to the young person;
- are involved in domestic violence in the home;
- are so addicted to alcohol or drugs that they cannot parent;
- have an untreated mental illness that places the child at risk of harm;
- have encouraged the child to commit an illegal
Occasionally, a court will find a child to be in need of aid if the child is a chronic runaway and behaves in a way that puts himself or herself seriously at risk.
If the court determines that you are not “in need of aid,” then you are returned to your parents immediately and the CINA case is closed.
If the court determines that you are “in need of aid,” the court will hold hearings with your parents and their attorneys to figure out how to keep you safe. If the court decides that you would be safe at home even though you are “in need of aid,” the court will release you to your parents and order the OCS to supervise the family.
If the court finds it is not safe for you to return home, then OCS will be involved with your family and you will be in the state’s custody. OCS will decide where you will live. You could be sent to live with a relative or other responsible adult. You could be placed in a foster home or group home, or in an emergency shelter.
While you are in OCS custody, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will work with your family to fix the problems in the home that caused you to be a child in need of aid. The DHHS will also develop a family contact plan for your family to have reasonable visitation with you while you are living away from your home.
Within twelve months from the time OCS removed you from your home, the court will hold a permanency hearing. The court will receive and consider reports recommending a permanent plan for your family. A permanent plan may be:
- reunification with your family;
- guardianship (in which your parent’s rights are not terminated, but suspended while another adult becomes your guardian); or
- a Permanent Planned Living Arrangement (also known as Independent Living in which the child continues his or her education and plans to continue in the foster care system until he or she is no longer a minor).
The court will hold a disposition hearing to decide how long you should remain in OCS custody, or how long OCS supervision of your family can last. You can be in OCS custody or under OCS supervision for up to two years. You and your parents may appeal or request a review of the court’s decision on length of custody or supervision.
If the time for custody is nearly over, but OCS still believes it would be unsafe for you to return home, OCS can ask the court to extend custody, one year at a time, until you turn 19. Before extending custody, the court has to hold an extension of custody hearing and give all the parties a chance to respond to the OCS request.
Yes. While you are in OCS custody your parents have the right to reasonable visitation, and the right to consent to:
- your marriage;
- your enlistment with the military;
- major medical treatment for you;
- any medications for the treatment of your mental