Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children - Alaska

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.086

The responsibilities of the Department of Health and Social Services include the duty to do the following:

  • Identify family support services that will assist the parent or guardian in remedying the conduct or conditions in the home that made the child a child in need of aid
  • Actively offer the parent or guardian and refer the parent or guardian to those services
  • Distribute to the parent or guardian information on community-based family support services whenever community-based services are available and desired by the parent or guardian, including information about the use of a power of attorney to select an individual to care for the child temporarily
  • Document its actions

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.086

The department shall make timely efforts to provide family support services to the child and parents that are designed to prevent out-of-home placement of the child or to enable the safe return of the child to the family home, when appropriate.

If the child cannot be returned home safely, the department shall make reasonable efforts to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan and complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.10.086

The court may determine that reasonable efforts are not required if the court has found by clear and convincing evidence that any of the following apply:

  • The parent has subjected the child to circumstances that pose a substantial risk of harm, including abandonment, sexual abuse, torture, chronic mental injury, or chronic physical harm.
  • The parent has committed or attempted to commit murder of the other parent of the child or has committed felony assault that results in serious physical injury.
  • The parent has failed to participate in family support services during the preceding 12 months.
  • The department cannot identify and locate the parent.
  • The parent has a mental illness and will be unable to care for the child in the foreseeable future.
  • The parent has a previous conviction for a crime involving a child and, after the conviction, the child was returned to the parent and later removed because of an additional substantiated report of physical or sexual abuse.
  • A child has suffered substantial physical harm as the result of abuse or neglect by the parent or by a person known to the parent, and the parent knew or reasonably should have known that the person was abusing the child.
  • Rights to another child have been previously terminated, and conditions in the home have not been remedied.
  • The parent is incarcerated for a substantial period of time during the child's minority.

The department is not required to make reasonable efforts to return the child to his or her family home if the department took emergency custody of an infant under § 47.10.142 after the infant was abandoned safely within the meaning of § 47.10.013(c).