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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Joy B. v. State, Dept. of Health & Social Services, Office of Children's Services (10/26/2016) sp-7131

Joy B. v. State, Dept. of Health & Social Services, Office of Children's Services (10/26/2016) sp-7131

           Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the P                     ACIFIC  REPORTER.  

           Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, 303  

                                                                                                                    

           K  Street,  Anchorage,  Alaska  99501,  phone  (907)  264-0608,  fax  (907)  264-0878,  email  

                                                                                                            

           corrections@akcourts.us.  



                       THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA                                       



JOY  B.,                                                        )  

                                                                )          Supreme  Court  No.  S-16152  

                      Appellant,                                )  

                                                                )          Superior Court Nos. 3AN-14-00082/83 CN  

           v.                                                   )  

                                                                )          O  P  I  N  I  O  N  

STATE  OF  ALASKA,                                              )  

DEPARTMENT  OF  HEALTH  &                                       )          No.  7131  -  October  26,  2016  

SOCIAL  SERVICES,  OFFICE  OF                                   )  

CHILDREN'S  SERVICES,                                           )  

                                                                )  

                      Appellee.                                 )  

                                                                 

_______________________________ )  



                                                                                                               

                      Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third  

                                                                                                  

                      Judicial District, Anchorage, Erin B. Marston, Judge.  



                                                                                                                 

                      Appearances:                Olena   Kalytiak   Davis,   Anchorage,                           for  

                                                                                                          

                      Appellant.  Mary Ann Lundquist, Senior Assistant Attorney  

                                                                                                           

                      General, Fairbanks, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General,  

                                         

                      Juneau, for Appellee.  



                                                                                                                 

                      Before:         Stowers,  Chief  Justice,  Winfree,  Maassen,  and  

                                   

                      Bolger, Justices.  



                                                     

                      STOWERS, Chief Justice.  



                                             

I.         INTRODUCTION  



                                                                                                                                        

                      A mother and her eight children were routinely and severely abused by the  



                                                                                                                                 

father of the younger children while living in another state.  The mother fled to Alaska  



                                                                                                                           

with four of her daughters in 2013.  The family's life remained chaotic and sometimes  


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violent, with frequent altercations in the home, and the daughters were often out of                                                                                                                                                                                                   



control.   After the Office of Children's Services (OCS) obtained temporary custody of                                                                                                                                                                                                  



the children, the mother resisted OCS's efforts to reunify the family and refused to                                                                                                                                                                                                    



participate in supervised visits with her daughters.                                                                                                                        She left Alaska in October 2014,                                                               



maintaining only sporadic contact with her daughters, and she has not returned.                                                                                                                                                           



                                            After a trial was held,                                                        the superior                                 court terminated                                           the mother's                                    and  



father's parental rights with                                                                     respect to                           the younger two daughters,                                                                       finding   that the   



children were in need of aid due to abandonment and other statutory factors, that the                                                                                                                                                                                               



parents had not remedied the conduct that made the children in need of aid, that OCS had                                                                                                                                                                                           



made reasonable efforts toward reunification, and that termination was in the daughters'                                                                                                                                                                    



best interests.                                 The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights but does not                                                                                                                                                              



appeal the superior court's finding that her children were initially in need of aid.                                                                                                                                                                                             We  



affirm.  



II.                   FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS                             



                      A.                    History Of Extreme Domestic Violence Committed By Drake In Ohio                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                  1  was married to and lived with Drake B. in Ohio for over 20 years.  

                                            Joy B.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



During this time Joy and Drake had  two sons and four daughters together. Joy also had  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



at least two daughters from a previous relationship, who lived with the family for part  



of this time period.  The parties to this case do not dispute the basic facts regarding the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



family's history while Joy and the children were living with Drake in Ohio.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



                                            Drake routinely committed extreme torture and abuse against Joy and the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



children.                           For  instance, Drake repeatedly used stun  guns on the children.                                                                                                                                                                  On  one  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



occasion Drake had to resuscitate one of the sons after he became unconscious from  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



being shocked with a stun gun.  Drake would also strip the children's clothes off and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                      1  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                            Pseudonyms have been used to protect the privacy of the parties.  



                                                                                                                                           -2-                                                                                                                                              7131  


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whip  the  children  with  ropes  and  extension  cords,  after  rubbing  them  with  oil  to  



minimize scarring from the abuse.  Drake would lock the children in their rooms or in  



                                                                                                                             

confined spaces such as large cardboard boxes for up to a day at a time, with limited food  



                                                                                                                                 

and water, as a form of punishment.  There was at least one instance when Joy tried to  



                                                                                                                            

intervene to protect the children, when Drake had hung one of the sons up behind a door,  



                                                                                                                                     

but Drake threatened to make the situation "worse" if Joy did anything to protect the son.  



                                                                

Drake also abused animals in front of the children.  



                                                                                                                              

                    Drake  regularly  abused  Joy,  and  the  children  witnessed  much  of  this  



                                                                                                                             

domestic violence.   In addition to routine physical fighting between Drake and Joy,  



                                                                                                                              

Drake engaged in extreme torture on several occasions. On one occasion, while Joy was  



                                                                                                                                     

pregnant, Drake handcuffed her in her room and starved her until she had a miscarriage.  



                                                                                                                            

On another occasion, Joy was beaten severely in her room while the children were  



                                                                                                                            

locked in another room listening to their parents' screams.   Once the children were  



                                                                                                                               

released, they witnessed Drake pouring lighter fluid on Joy and threatening to light her  



                                                                                                                             

on fire.  After the incident, one of the sons attempted to help Joy by bringing her pain  



                                                                                                                 

relievers, and the father pulled and pinched his ears and threatened to kill him.  



                                                                                                                              

                    Drake also taught the children to berate Joy and to treat her in the same way  



                                                                                                                          

that he treated her.  During some of this time, Drake was engaged sexually with Billie,  



                                                                                                                                 

one of Joy's daughters from a previous relationship.  At times Billie appeared to act as  



                                                                                                                               

the lead female in the household, and she sometimes helped Drake abuse Joy and the  



          

other children.  



                                                                                                                              

                    Another one of Joy's daughters from a previous relationship, Tanya, also  



                                                                                                                           

lived with the family for a time.   When she was 11, Tanya reported to Ohio Child  



                                                                                                                          

Protective Services that Drake had raped her. Child Protective Services removed Tanya  



                                                                                                                             

from the home, and Joy relinquished her parental rights to Tanya.  For the children who  



                                                                                                                           

remained in the home, Tanya's removal was used as a cautionary example of what would  



                                                               -3-                                                         7131
  


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happen if the children reported any of the abuse they were experiencing; the children  



                                                                                                                                     

were admonished not to break up the family by speaking to anyone about their abuse.  



                                                                                                                    

Drake also expressly threatened to kill the children if they talked to Child Protective  



                                                                                                                                     

Services, and the children would hide when Child Protective Services came to the house.  



                                                                                                            

The children were forced into isolation in other ways as well: they were home-schooled,  



                                                                                                            

and they were not allowed to go anywhere or have friends outside the family.  



                                                                                                                         

                    To protect her children from Drake's continuing abuse, Joy fled to Alaska  



                                                                                           

in October 2013 with four of her daughters, Abby (age 16 at the time), Amy (age 14),  



                                                                                                                              

Alyse (age 10), and Arianna (age 8).   Joy left her two sons with Drake because she  



                                                                                                                              

believed they were "too far gone" and had been trained to abuse her in the same way that  



           

Drake did.  



                                                                                    

          B.        Continued "Chaos" At Joy's Home In Alaska  



                                                                                                                                

                    The girls' lives improved once they arrived in Alaska, as they were no  



                                                                                                                               

longer subjected to Drake's extreme physical abuse.  Joy housed, fed, and clothed the  



                                                                                                                           

girls.   Yet their home life continued to be chaotic, with verbal and  physical fights  



                                                                                                                 

between  some  of  the girls  and  Joy.                    And  both  Joy  and  her  daughters  experienced  



                                                                                                                           

significant  emotional  and  psychological  challenges,  including  post-traumatic  stress  



                                                                                                                      

disorder (PTSD) and severe emotional disturbance, as a result of the trauma they had  



experienced.  



                                                                                                                               

                    Testimony in the record indicated that there was general "chaos in the  



                                                                                                                      

home"  during  this  time,  including  "arguments  [that]  would  .  .  .  end  in  physical  



                                                                                                                              

altercations."          The  children  would  sometimes  "manhandle"  their  mother,  and  Joy  



                                                                                                                       

acknowledged that they were out of control, especially the older two.   The children  



                                                                                                                          

apparently  did  not  respond  to  Joy  as  an  authority  figure.                             The  Anchorage  Police  



                                                                                                                                 

Department was called to respond to altercations in the home on several occasions.  In  



                                                                                                                                

one of these, Amy was arrested for assaulting Alyse and was taken to a Division of  



                                                               -4-                                                         7131
  


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Juvenile Justice facility for a time. Abby also reported that Joy grabbed and slapped her  



                                                                                             

three or four times, generally in the presence of the younger girls.  



                                                                                                                               

                    Although most of the reports of physical fighting involved the older two  



                                                                                                                     

girls, Alyse and Arianna also struggled and exhibited disturbing behaviors.  Testimony  



                                                                                                                                 

indicated that Alyse and  Arianna sometimes watched  pornography  and  engaged  in  



                                                                                                                          

inappropriate sexual behavior in the home.  They engaged in animal abuse on several  



                                                                                                                               

occasions, including intentionally killing their pet hermit crabs. Alyse and Arianna also  



                                                                                                   

continually witnessed the chaotic environment and abuse in the home.  



                                                                                                                                 

                    Joy was concerned about the level of stress the children were subjected to,  



                                                                                                                       

and she initially sought treatment for one of the older daughters at North Star Hospital,  



                                                                                                                                 

a behavioral health facility.  For a time, the entire family was voluntarily being seen by  



                                                                                                                             

a counselor at Anchorage Community Mental Health.  The older two daughters were  



                                                                                                                                  

frequently in and out of psychiatric treatment facilities, and Alyse also spent time at  



                                                                                                                             

North Star Hospital in November 2013.  Although Joy was initially supportive of some  



                                                                                                                               

treatment options for her daughters, she later began to resist treatment for the girls and  



                                                                                                                      

indicated  that  she  did  not  believe  in  treatment  or  medication  other  than  cannabis.  



                                                                                                                       

                    In the intake interviews and ongoing counseling at many of these treatment  



                                                                                                                         

facilities, the girls revealed their history of domestic violence and the continuing conflict  



                                                                                                                    

in their home.   These disclosures and some of the police calls triggered mandatory  



                                                                                                                                

reporting requirements, and OCS ultimately received at least 14 reports relating to the  



                                                                                                 

family.  OCS first became actively involved with the family in 2014.  



                                                                                      

          C.        OCS Involvement And Probable Cause Hearings  



                                                                                                                                

                    By early 2014 OCS had compiled a file and assigned a caseworker to the  



                                                                                                                             

family. The OCS caseworker first interviewed juvenile probation officers who had come  



                                                                                                                            

in  contact  with  the  family,  and  she  began  interviewing  the  girls  directly  in  early  



                                                                                                                               

February  2014.             Also  in  early  February  2014,  Drake  discovered  that  Joy  and  the  



                                                                -5-                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

                                                                                                                          

daughters were in Alaska, and he filed a petition for custody of all six children in county  



              

court in Ohio.  



                                                                                                                     

                    In response to Drake's petition and other concerns regarding the children's  



                                                                                                                            

safety, OCS filed an emergency petition for temporary custody and adjudication of Child  



                                                                                                                        

in Need of Aid status with respect to all four girls on February 27, 2014. OCS's petition  



                                                                                                                                

recounted Abby and Amy's disclosures of severe abuse in Ohio as well as reports of  



                                                                                                                             

ongoing turmoil in Joy's home in Alaska, discussing Abby and Amy's involvement with  



                                                                                                                        

the Division of Juvenile Justice and noting that "the four girls are all out of control,  



                                                                                                                              

always yelling, cursing and physically fighting with each other and the mother."  The  



                                                                                         

petition sought an order committing the four girls to State custody.  



                                                                                                                               

                    The  superior  court  held  a  hearing  on  the  emergency  petition  on  



                                                                                                                                

February 28, 2014.  The court continued the temporary custody hearing but issued an  



                                                                                                                               

interim order granting temporary State custody of Abby and Amy.  The court did not  



                                                                                                                            

grant temporary custody of Alyse and Arianna at that time. Accordingly, Abby and Amy  



                                                                                                                                 

were removed from Joy's home on February 28, while Alyse and Arianna remained in  



       

the home.  



                                                                                                                 

                    As OCS became more involved with the family, Joy became increasingly  



                                                                                                                     

antagonistic to OCS's efforts.  In developing a case plan for the family, OCS requested  



                                                                                                                               

that Joy complete a mental health assessment that would allow OCS to evaluate her  



                                                                                                                       

needs and plan accordingly, but Joy refused to complete the assessment.   Joy  also  



                                                                                                                              

repeatedly refused to allow OCS into her home to conduct safety checks on Alyse and  



                                                                                                                          

Arianna, even after OCS obtained a court order requiring her to do so.   Joy began  



                                                                                                                     

blocking Amy's access to inpatient treatment at several behavioral health facilities.  



                                                                                                                               

Altercations within the home continued, and at one point OCS received a report that Joy  



                                                        

had hit Amy with a belt and a white board.  



                                                               -6-                                                         7131
  


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                    In response to this incident and Joy's lack of cooperation, OCS filed an  



                                                                                                                     

amended emergency petition on June 23, 2014, again seeking State custody of all four  



                                                                                                                          

daughters.   The petition recounted Joy's obstruction of OCS's efforts and the recent  



                                                                                                                             

altercation  with  Amy.               Regarding  the  younger  daughters,  the  petition  alleged  that  



                                                                                                                               

"[Alyse] and [Arianna] are the most vulnerable in the home. They b[ear] witness to the  



                                                                                                                                 

chaotic environment and ongoing abuse within the home. The violence in the home is  



                                                                                                                        

unmanageable  and  the  younger  children  are  at  significant  risk  of  being  injured  



                                                                                                                                  

themselves, if not already."  The petition explained OCS's view that Joy was "not in a  



                                                                                                                                 

healthy position to make safe, reasonable parenting decisions for any of her children at  



                                                                                                                   

this point" and that, in addition to refusing the mental health assessment, Joy "believe[d]  



                                                                                                                           

parent coaching or instructions [were] meaningless for her."  Finally, the petition noted  



                                                                                                                               

that Joy had "declared to the court . . . that she would rather have OCS remove all of her  



                                                                                  

children from her home, than . . . allow OCS into her home."  



                                                                                                                              

                    As  a  result  of  this  amended  petition  and  evidence  presented  at  the  



                                                                                                                              

temporary  custody  hearing, the superior  court issued  a probable cause finding  and  



                                                                                                                      

temporary custody order effective June 23, 2014.  The court concluded that probable  



                                                                                                                         

cause existed to believe that all four daughters were children in need of aid under Alaska  



                                                                                                                               

Statute 47.10.011.   It also found that placement in Joy's home was "contrary to the  



                                                                                                                   

welfare of each child," finding that "[t]he children remain[ed] at risk of substantial  



                                                                                                                            

physical abuse by their mother and by the failure of their mother to supervise them  



                                                                                                                             

adequately." The court noted that Joy "used threats of sending the children back to their  



                                                                                                                                 

father and told [Abby] that the family would return to Ohio as soon as OCS was out of  



                                                                                                     

the picture."  The court cited some of OCS's reunification efforts and found that these  



                                                                                                                     

"efforts   ha[d]   been   thwarted   by   the   father's   disappearance   and   the   mother's  



stonewalling."  



                                                               -7-                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

                                                                                                                               

                    Alyse and Arianna were removed from Joy's home on June 23, 2014, the  



                                                                                                                        

final day of the temporary custody hearing.  Amy, Alyse, and Arianna were initially  



                                                                                                                           

placed in a foster home together.  Abby already was living in a therapeutic foster home  



                                                                                                                               

and would continue to live in foster care through the termination trial, by which time she  



                                                                                                                                

had turned 18.   OCS developed a case plan for the family, but Joy did not want to  



                                                                                                                  

participate in the case plan.  Joy also continued to refuse a mental health assessment,  



                                                                                                                                 

which OCS maintained would allow the department to adjust the case plan according to  



       

her needs.  



                                                                                                                              

                    OCS nonetheless continued to reach out to Joy in numerous ways. As part  



                                                                                                                              

of its efforts to improve her parenting capacity in the wake of the trauma she had  



                                                                                                                   

suffered, OCS provided Joy with therapeutic recommendations including counseling  



                                                                                                                         

services and parenting classes.  OCS gave Joy a copy of the case plan for the family,  



                                                                                                                             

which included addresses and phone numbers for specific service providers.  The case  



                                                                                                                               

plan stated that the permanency goal for each child was reunification with Joy. OCS did  



                                                                                                                              

not  specifically  refer  Joy  to  a  domestic  violence  victims  assistance  program,  but  



                                                                                                                  

according  to  OCS,  other  recommended  therapeutic  options,  such  as  Anchorage  



                                                                                                                                 

Community Health Services, offer domestic violence victims services; Joy refused to  



                    

engage with them.  



                                                                                                                               

                    OCS held an estimated 40 to 50 team decision meetings with Joy and her  



                                                                                                                       

daughters in an effort to implement the case plan and help the family make progress  



                                                                                                                            

toward reunification.  Joy usually attended telephonically rather than in person, even  



                                                                                                                          

when she was in Anchorage.  Joy frequently yelled at the OCS representatives during  



                                                                                                               

these  meetings  and  refused  to  cooperate  with  the  case  plan;  by  one  caseworker's  



                                                                                                                              

estimate, Joy yelled roughly 70% of the time during her interactions with OCS.  Joy  



                                                                                                                            

repeatedly indicated that she would rather relinquish her rights to her children than work  



         

with OCS.  



                                                               -8-                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

                                                                                                                               

                    Although Joy was prohibited from having unsupervised contact with the  



                                                                                                                                

girls, she sometimes spoke with the girls on the phone without OCS supervision.  In  



                                                                                                                         

July 2014, the girls secretly arranged to meet Joy at the library after their foster mother  



                                                                                                                        

dropped them off there.  There was a confrontation between Joy and the foster mother,  



                                                                                                                               

and when the foster mother got the girls in the car and drove away, the girls jumped out  



                                                                                                                             

of the car.  Alyse and Amy were found and brought to North Star Hospital, where they  



                                                                                                                               

remained for about a month.  Although Abby visited her sisters in the hospital, Joy did  



                                                                                                                            

not visit them during the time they were there because she refused to have her visits  



                                                                                                                                

supervised.  After this incident, OCS decided that Amy, Alyse, and Arianna should no  



                                                                                                                               

longer be placed in the same foster home, so OCS found new foster homes for Alyse and  



Amy.  



                                                                                                                               

                    In October 2014 Joy left the state; she has not returned, nor has she seen her  



                                                                                                                                  

children since she left.  Joy initially told her daughters that she was leaving to attend a  



                                                                                                                           

family gathering and would be returning to Alaska, but she later told them that she would  



                                                                                                                              

not be returning. Joy did not tell OCS that she was leaving. Joy left her home in the care  



                                                                                                                 

of a man who contacted the girls and threatened to kill their pet rabbit if they did not  



                                                                                                                                

obey  him,  although  the  girls  were  living  in  foster  homes  at  the  time.                                      Also  in  



                                                                                                                              

October  2014,  OCS  obtained  a  court  order  to  compel  Joy  to  comply  with  the  



                                                                                                

psychological evaluation that OCS had requested, but Joy had already left the state by  



                                    

the time the order was issued.  



                                                                                                                                

                    OCS made an effort to stay in contact with Joy after she left the state.  At  



                                                                                                                       

first Joy lived with family and friends, and occasionally in hotels, in several different  



                                                                                                                           

states.  By the fall of 2015 Joy was homeless.  Although she was hard to get in touch  



                                                                                                                      

with, the family's OCS caseworker continued to talk with Joy by phone when possible.  



                                                                                                                               

In addition to keeping Joy up to date on her daughters' placements and treatments, the  



                                                                                                                         

caseworker also tried to "problem solve" with Joy to help her get housing. OCS learned  



                                                               -9-                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

                                                                                                                         

that Joy had completed a psychological evaluation in another state as part of the process  



                                                                                                                            

of seeking shelter, but OCS was unable to obtain a copy of this evaluation until Joy's  



                                                                                                                             

lawyer provided it roughly a month before the termination hearing.  According to OCS,  



                                                                                                                               

this evaluation was quite different from the mental health assessment that OCS had  



                                                                                                                                

requested while Joy was in Alaska, as it did not address her parenting capacity, the  



                                                                                         

children's family history, or OCS's involvement with the family.  



                                                                                                                              

                    At one point after Joy had left the state, the OCS caseworker talked with  



                                                                                                                               

Joy about trying to find a way for her to see her children.  Although OCS could not pay  



                                                                                                                             

for Joy's permanent relocation to Alaska, OCS took the unusual step of purchasing plane  



                                                                                        

tickets for Joy so that she could come visit her daughters here.  Joy initially confirmed  



                                                                                                                      

that she wanted the tickets, but once OCS had purchased them, Joy's lawyer contacted  



                                                                                                                     

OCS to say that the dates would not work for Joy. Neither Joy nor her lawyer responded  



                                                                                                                          

to OCS's subsequent request that Joy provide different dates so that OCS could change  



                                                         

the tickets and allow Joy to visit her children.  



                                                                                                                         

                    Meanwhile, the girls were somewhat more stable after Joy left Alaska.  



                                                                                                                           

Although   Joy   initially   had   occasional   supervised   telephonic   visits   and   some  



                                                                                                                                  

unsupervised contact with her daughters, by the summer of 2015 she was hard to get in  



                                                                                                                             

touch with and had less frequent contact with the girls. Amy continued to struggle more  



                                                                                                               

than the other girls, but both Alyse and Arianna were making significant improvements  



                                                                                                                         

and were doing well in their foster homes. Alyse indicated that she wanted to be adopted  



                                                                                                                        

by her foster mother.  Although Arianna's foster home was not considered a potential  



                                                                                                                          

adoptive home, Arianna was doing well there, and she had not talked to Joy for several  



                                                                                                                           

months by the time of the termination hearing in fall 2015.  There remained a strong  



                                                                                                                            

bond between the sisters; the girls indicated that they missed their family and still loved  



                                                                                                                    

their mother, but they could also articulate to OCS caseworkers and other counselors  



                                                                     

"why it[ was] not safe to be in their parents' home."  



                                                               -10-                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

                    D.                   Termination Trial   



                                         OCS petitioned for termination of the parents' parental rights with respect                                                                                                                            



to all four daughters on April 2, 2015, and a two-day termination trial was held in                                                                                                                                                                            



November 2015. The trial was originally scheduled for July 2015, but the superior court                                                                                                                                                                



granted Joy's request to continue the trial until November.  Ultimately the termination                                                                                                                                            

trial moved forward only with respect to Alyse and Arianna.                                                                                                                            2  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

                                        Neither Joy nor Drake participated in the termination trial, despite the fact  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

that the hearing had been continued until November at Joy's request.   Both Joy and  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Drake were represented by counsel who were present at trial.  The State called thirteen  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

witnesses:  four current and former OCS caseworkers and supervisors, four Anchorage  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Police  Department  officers  and  one  juvenile  probation  officer,  two  mental  health  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

clinicians who had seen the family, and Alyse's and Arianna's current foster mothers.  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

These  witnesses  testified  to  the  facts  described  above,  including  the  daughters'  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

disclosures of torture and abuse in Ohio, the continued chaos and struggles in Joy's home  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

in Alaska, Joy's escalating refusal to cooperate with OCS and her departure fromAlaska,  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

and the younger children's progress in their foster homes.  Neither Joy nor Drake called  



             

any witnesses.  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

                                        After  the  two-day  trial,  the  superior  court  issued  an  oral  decision  



terminating Joy's and Drake's parental rights with respect to Alyse and Arianna.  The  



                                                                                                                                                                                        

court subsequently issued a written decision confirming this result.  



                    2                   Abby had turned 18 by the date of the November trial, and OCS ultimately                                                                                                                       



decided not to move for termination of parental rights with respect to Amy because it                                                                                                                                                                            

would not be in her best interests given that she was likely going to enter a residential   

treatment program soon and had indicated that she did not want to be adopted.                                                                                                                                                               Instead,  

OCS sought a determination that OCS be relieved of further reasonable efforts with                                                                                                                                                                      

respect to Amy.                



                                                                                                                             -11-                                                                                                                      7131
  


----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

                                                In its decision the superior court found, by clear and convincing evidence,                                                                                                                                                      



that both Joy and Drake had caused Alyse and Arianna to be in need of aid under the                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



abandonment provisions of AS 47.10.011(1) and AS 47.10.013(2), (3), (4), (7), and (8).                                                                                                                                                                                                                



The court cited the fact that Joy had left Alaska a year earlier without notifying OCS and                                                                                                                                                                                                            



had not returned to see her children, had stopped calling her daughters in the months                                                                                                                                                                                                   



leading up to trial, and had told OCS that "she would rather relinquish her parental rights                                                                                                                                                                                                    



than work with the department."                                                                                     The court found that "[b]y removing themselves from                                                                                                                           



the lives of their children, [Drake and Joy] ha[d] evidenced a conscious disregard for                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



parental obligations" and that "[b]y failing to participate in a plan designed to reunify                                                                                                                                                                                                



them with their children, both parents ha[d] allowed the parent-child bonds to break."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



The court concluded that Joy's and Drake's conduct met the abandonment test set forth                                                                                                                                                                                                             

by this court.                                 3  



                                                The court next found that both parents had caused Alyse and Arianna to be  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



in need ofaid under AS47.10.011(4) (failureto provide medical treatment), (6) (physical  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



harm), (8) (mental injury), and (9) (neglect).  The court cited the continual fighting in  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



Joy's home in Alaska, the girls' involvement with the juvenile justice system, and Joy's  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



resistance to appropriate psychiatric treatment for her daughters and obstructionismwith  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



respect to OCS.  

                                    



                                                The superior court next found that the parents had not remedied, or had  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



failed to remedy  within a reasonable time, the conduct and conditions that put the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



children in need of aid.  The court found that Joy had "made no meaningful attempts to  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



engage in services" and had failed to complete the psychological evaluation that would  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



have  allowed  OCS  to  assess  her  needs,  noting  that  the  out-of-state  evaluation  Joy  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



                        3  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

                                               See,  e.g.,  Sean  B.  v.  State,  Dep't  of  Health  &  Soc.  Servs.,  Office  of  

                                                                                                                                                                               

 Children's Servs., 251 P.3d 330, 335-36 (Alaska 2011).  



                                                                                                                                                   -12-                                                                                                                                                         7131  


----------------------- Page 13-----------------------

 completed in October 2015 was a year late and "was not a genuine effort to comply with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



the case plan."                                                                             The court explained that Joy had refused to participate in supervised                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



visits with her children and then later "left them altogether" when she moved out of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



Alaska.   The court noted the progress that Alyse and Arianna had made since being                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



placed in their foster homes, and it concluded that returning Alyse and Arianna to their                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



natural parents would put "each child . . . at risk of losing the gains she ha[d] made" and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



 "would   clearly   place   the   children   at   substantial   risk   of   physical   or  mental   injury."  



                                                                                The superior court next found, by clear and convincing evidence, that OCS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



had made reasonable efforts to reunite the family as required under AS 47.10.086.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The  



 court cited a number of the specific efforts OCS had made, including offering supervised                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



 family contact, conducting numerous team decision meetings with the family, referring                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



Joy   for   a   psychological   evaluation,   developing   a   case   plan   to  meet   Joy's   and   the  



 children's needs, arranging therapeutic services for the girls and providing opportunities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



 for Joy to participate in her daughters' therapy, identifying therapeutic foster placements                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



 for the girls, attending school                                                                                                                                            meetings andtherapeuticteammeetings for the girls, trying                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



to maintain contact with Joy through calls and emails, and arranging to fly Joy back to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



Alaska   to   visit   her  daughters.     The   court   explained   that   Joy's   "unwillingness   to  



participate   in   services   [was]   relevant   to   the   scope   of   efforts   the   department   could  



reasonably provide" and noted that Joy, "at every turn, was adamant in her refusal to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 address the problems in her home and rejected all assistan[ce] from [OCS]."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4  



                                                                                Finally, the superior court found by clear and convincing evidence that  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



termination of Joy's and Drake's rights would be in Alyse's and Arianna's best interests.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



                                        4                                       The court also relied on the same factual findings to conclude that there was                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



 clear and convincing evidence that the parents had subjected the children to various other                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

harmful circumstances under AS 47.10.086(c)(1), which sometimes relieves OCS of the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 duty to make reasonable efforts, but the parties have not raised this issue on appeal.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -13-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7131
  


----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

The court noted that the girls had been in OCS custody for 17 months and found that                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



"during that time, the parental conduct and circumstances that resulted in the need for                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



removal ha[d] not changed."   The court found that "after a year of intense therapy and                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



placement in therapeutic foster homes[,] . . . the two younger girls ha[d] achieved some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



level of success," mentioning Alyse's successful placementinapotential                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  adoptive home.                                                               



Thus, the court concluded that "[i]t is in [Alyse's] and [Arianna's] best interests to be                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



adopted into forever homes."                                                                         



                                                                 The superior court accordingly ordered that Joy's and Drake's parental                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



rights be terminated with respect to Alyse and Arianna under AS 47.10.088.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The court   



also ordered that reasonable efforts were no longer required under AS 47.10.086(a) with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



respect to Alyse, Arianna, or Amy.                                                                                                                                              Joy appeals the termination of her parental rights                                                                                                                                                                    



with respect to Alyse and Arianna, but she does not appeal the superior court's finding                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



that the children were in need of aid or the order relieving OCS of further efforts with                                                                                                                          



respect to Amy.                                                                Drake did not appeal the termination of his parental rights.                                                                                                                                                                                                    



III.                             STANDARD OF REVIEW                                                                       



                                                                 "In [Child in Need of Aid (CINA)] cases, we review a trial court's factual                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         5             "Whether  the  parent  has  

 findings   for   clear   error   and   questions   of   law   de   novo."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



remedied the conduct is a factual determination best made by a trial court," and therefore  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

we review this question for clear error.6                                                                                                                                                                    Similarly, "[b]est interests findings are also  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



                                 5                               Chloe W. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



Servs., 336 P.3d 1258, 1264 (Alaska 2014) (citing                                                                                                                                                                                                 Sherman B. v. State, Dep't of Health                                                                                                           

 & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs.                                                                                                                                                              , 290 P.3d 421, 427-28 (Alaska 2012)).                                                                                                                   



                                 6                               Shirley M. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Servs., 342 P.3d 1233, 1240 (Alaska 2015) (citing Ralph H. v. State, Dep't of Health &  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs., 255 P.3d 1003, 1008-09 (Alaska 2011)).  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



                                                                                                                                                                                                        -14-                                                                                                                                                                                               7131
  


----------------------- Page 15-----------------------

factual findings reviewed for clear error."                               7  "Whether OCS made reasonable efforts to  



                                                                                                     8  

reunify the family is a mixed question of law and fact."                                                                                         

                                                                                                         For mixed questions, "we  



                                                                                                                                               

review factual questions under the clearly erroneous standard and legal questions using  

                                                   9   We will conclude that "[f]actual findings are clearly  

                                                                                                                                            

                               

our  independent judgment." 



erroneous if review of the entire record leaves us with 'a definite and firm conviction that  

                                                                                                                                                  

a mistake has been made.' "10  

                                                



IV.         DISCUSSION  



                       Alaska  Statute  47.10.088(a)  provides  that  a  parent's  rights  may  be  

                                                                                                                                                   



involuntarily  terminated  only  if:                           (1)  "the  child  has  been  subjected  to  conduct  or  

                                                                                                                                                    



conditions" that caused him or her to be in need of aid as described in AS 47.10.011;  

                                                                                                                                     



(2)  "the parent . . . has  failed, within a reasonable time, to remedy the conduct or  

                                                                                                                                                    



conditions in the home that place the child in substantial risk so that returning the child  

                                                                                                                                                



to the parent would place the child at substantial risk of physical or mental injury"; and  

                                                                                                                                                  



(3)  OCS has made "reasonable efforts" toward family reunification as described in  

                                                                                                                                                    



AS 47.10.086.   AS 47.10.088(c) further provides that in a proceeding to terminate  

                                                                                                                                       



parental rights, "the court shall consider the best interests of the child."  

                                                                                                                  



                       Joy does not contest that her children were in need of aid as defined in  

                                                                                                                                                     



AS 47.10.011, but she appeals the superior court's findings that she failed to remedy the  

                                                                                                                                                   



            7          Sherry R. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's                                       



Servs., 332 P.3d 1268, 1273 (Alaska 2014) (citing                                        Sherman B.           , 290 P.3d at 428).         



            8          Id. at 1273-74 (quoting Sherman B., 290 P.3d at 428).  

                                                                                                              



            9          Id. at 1274 (quoting Ben M. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office  

                                                                                                                                              

of Children's Servs., 204 P.3d 1013, 1018 (Alaska 2009)).  

                                                                                           



            10          Chloe W., 336 P.3d at 1264 (citing Sherman B., 290 P.3d at 427-28).  

                                                                                                                                  



                                                                        -15-                                                                   7131
  


----------------------- Page 16-----------------------

                                                                                        11  

conduct and conditions that made them in need of aid,                                      that OCS had made reasonable         



                                                            12  

efforts toward family reunification,                                                                                                       

                                                                and  that  termination of parental rights was in  

                                                            13   We consider these issues in turn.  

                                                                                                                

                                              

Alyse's and Arianna's best interests. 



           A.	        The Superior Court Did Not Clearly Err In Finding That Joy Had  

                                                                                                                                       

                      Failed To Remedy The Conduct That Made The Children In Need Of  

                                                                                                                                          

                      Aid.  



                      Once a child is found to be in need of aid, the court must consider whether  

                                                                                                                                 



the parent has remedied the conduct or conditions that caused the child to be in need of  

                                                                                                                                           



aid.  To involuntarily terminate a parent's rights, the superior court must find by clear  

                                                                                                                                       



and convincing evidence that the parent has failed to timely remedy the conduct or  

                                                                                                                                           

conditions that rendered the child in need of aid.14                                 In making a determination about a  

                                                                                                                                  



parent's failure to remedy, "the court may consider any fact relating to the best interests  

                                                                                                                                 



of the child," including "the harm caused to the child," the parent's efforts to remedy the  

                                                                                                                                          



harmful conduct or conditions, "the likelihood that the harmful conduct will continue,"  

                                                                                                                              

and "the history of conduct by or conditions created by the parent."15  In determining the  

                                                                                                                                          



likelihood  that a parent's  harmful conduct will continue,  the court  may  consider  a  

                                                                                                                                            

parent's history of harmful conduct "as a predictor of future behavior."16  

                                                                                                    



           11         See  AS  47.10.088(a)(2).  



           12         See  AS  47.10.086,  .088(a)(3).  



           13         See  AS  47.10.088(c).  



           14         AS  47.10.088(a)(2);  CINA  Rule   18(c)(1).  



           15         AS  47.10.088(b).  



           16         Trevor  M.   v.  State,  Dep't   of  Health   &  Soc.  Servs., Office   of   Children's  



Servs.,  368  P.3d  607,  612  (Alaska  2016)  (quoting  Sherry  R.  v.  State,  Dep't  of  Health  &  

Soc.  Servs.,  Office  of  Children's  Servs.,  332  P.3d   1268,   1274  (Alaska  2014)).  



                                                                    -16-	                                                             7131
  


----------------------- Page 17-----------------------

                                                              Joy challenges the superior court's finding that "[nothing] at all has been                                                                                                                                                                                                      



remedied," arguing that removing her daughters from Drake's home and bringing them                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



to Alaska was an enormous step to protect them from abuse.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               But OCS counters that its                                                                                    



termination petition was not focused solely on Drake's abuse; rather, "it was Joy's                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



conduct while in Alaska that continued to place the children in need of aid." Indeed, the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



termination petition detailed the ongoing confrontations and instability in Joy's home in                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



Alaska   and   her   continued  volatile   and   uncooperative   behavior.     So   ultimately   the  



question beforeus                                                                   is whetherJoy                                                     remedied thecontinuedharmful                                                                                                                       and neglectful conduct  



that occurred after the move to Alaska.                                                                                                                                                We conclude that she did not.                                                                                               



                                                              Joy argues that there was no direct evidence of Alyse or Arianna suffering                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



physical harm in Joy's home.                                                                                                             But OCS correctly notes that the superior court found the                                                                                                                                                                                                  



children to be in need of aid on multiple statutory grounds, many of which do not require                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



a showing of physical harm.                                                                                                          In particular, the court found the children to be in need of                                                                                                                                                                                                       



aid under the abandonment provisions of AS 47.10.011(1) and AS 47.10.013(2), (3), (4),                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



and (8), which provide that abandonment includes instances where the parent "has made                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                17  "failed for a period  

only minimal efforts to support and communicate with the child";                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

of at least six months to maintain regular visitation with the child";18 "failed to participate  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

in a suitable plan or program designed to reunite the parent . . . with the child";19  or "was  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

unwilling to provide care, support, or supervision for the child."20  As we have explained  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



in past cases, a finding of abandonment under these statutory factors requires parental  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



                               17                             AS 47.10.013(2).   



                               18                             AS 47.10.013(3).   



                               19  

                                                                               

                                                              AS 47.10.013(4).  



                               20                             AS 47.10.013(8).   



                                                                                                                                                                                                -17-                                                                                                                                                                                       7131
  


----------------------- Page 18-----------------------

conduct that "evidenc[es] a 'willful disregard' for parental obligations, leading to . . . the                                                                              



                                                                                           21  

destruction of the parent-child relationship."                                                   



                            Joy   has   raised   no   challenge   to   the   superior   court's   findings   on  

                                                                                                                                                                           



abandonment, and the record strongly supports the finding of abandonment and Joy's  

                                                                                                                                                                        



failure to remedy it.  Evidence at trial showed that Joy adamantly refused to participate  

                                                                                                                                                             



in her case plan and often refused opportunities to visit with her children because she did  

                                                                                                                                                                            



not  want  to  engage  in  supervised  visits.                                            Rather  than  remedying  this  conduct,  Joy  

                                                                                                                                                                           



eventually left her daughters in Alaska and maintained only sporadic communication  

                                                                                                                                                  



with them after that point; by the time of the termination hearing, she had not spoken  

                                                                                                                                                                    



with Arianna for a month or two.   Joy also failed to take advantage of the unusual  

                                                                                                                                                                  



opportunity provided by OCS to travel back to Alaska and visit her daughters.  And Joy  

                                                                                                                                                                            



did not participate in the termination trial despite the fact that the trial date was changed  

                                                                                                                                                                  



at her request.  

              



                            Joy's repeated refusals to participate in supervised visits and her departure  

                                                                                                                                                               



from the state, coupled with the lack of contact and failure to return when OCS bought  

                                                                                                                                                                    



plane tickets for her, are more than sufficient to demonstrate "a 'willful disregard' for  

                                                                                                                                                                            

parental obligations, leading to . . . the destruction of the parent-child relationship."22  

                                                                                                                                                                                    



Ultimately, Joy's continued and escalating isolation from her daughters supports the  

                                                                                                                                                                            



superior court's finding that she failed to remedy her abandonment of her daughters.  

                                                                                                                                                                                 



                            Termination of parental rights may be based on a parent's failure to remedy  

                                                                                                                                                                    



a single statutory element of the conduct or conditions that cause the child to be in need  

                                                                                                                                                                         



              21           Sean B. v. State, Dep't of Health &Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs.                                                                           ,  



251 P.3d 330, 335 (Alaska 2011) (quoting                                                Rick P. v. State, Office of Children's Servs.                                            ,  

 109 P.3d 950, 957 (Alaska 2005)).                       



              22           Id.  



                                                                                     -18-                                                                               7131
  


----------------------- Page 19-----------------------

              23  

of aid.             We have previously affirmed failure-to-remedy findings                                                                          based on abandonment     



              24  

alone.                                                                                                                                                                                              

                     So Joy's failure to remedy the abandonment of her daughters is sufficient to  



                                                                                                                                                                                 

support the superior court's finding that Joy failed to remedy the conduct and conditions  



                                                                                                       25  

                                                                                               

that made Alyse and Arianna in need of aid. 



                               Moreover,  a  court  can  consider  a  parent's  history  of  behavior  "as  a  

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

predictor of future behavior,"26 and Joy's past conduct suggests that Joy will continue  

                                                                                                                                                                          



to engage in conduct that puts her children in need of aid.  This is particularly true in  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    



light of Joy's refusal to improve her conduct by engaging in counseling, participating in  

                                                                                                                                                                                                     



OCS's case plan, or even completing a mental health evaluation - which gives little  

                                                                                                                                                                                              



indication that her parenting capacity will improve within a reasonable time.   And  

                                                                                                                                                                                              



although, as Joy points out on appeal, her harmful conduct and failure to remedy her  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 



conduct almost certainly stem from her own history of abuse and trauma, this tragic fact  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 



does not change the CINA analysis, which focuses on the impact on the children and the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                23             See Rick P.               , 109 P.3d at 956 ("[O]ur determination that the mental injury             



finding was not erroneous makes it unnecessary to consider Rick's challenges to these                                                                                                        

other findings [under AS 47.10.011].");                                                       see also Sylvia L. v. State, Dep't of Health &                                                         

Soc.   Servs.,   Office   of   Children's   Servs.,   343   P.3d   425,   431   (Alaska   2015)   (citing  

Sherman B.                 , 290 P.3d at 431) (concluding that any error with respect to the mental illness                                                                                

factor was harmless because the superior court's findings on the abandonment and                                                                                                                

substance abuse factors were affirmable).                            



                24             Sherman B., 290 P.3d at 431 (citing Rick P., 109 P.3d at 956).  

                                                                                                                                                                   



                25             It  is  likely  that  Joy  also  failed  to  remedy  her  conduct  that  made  her  

                                                                                                                                                                                                

daughters in need of aid under the other statutory prongs cited by the superior court, but  

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

we need not review these findings in light of our conclusion that Joy failed to remedy her  

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

abandonment of her daughters.  

                                                                          



                26             Trevor M. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's  

                                                                                                                                                                                

Servs., 368 P.3d 607, 612 (Alaska 2016) (quoting Sherry R. v. State, Dep't of Health &  

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs., 332 P.3d 1268, 1274 (Alaska 2014)).  

                                                                                                                                                                   



                                                                                                -19-                                                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 20-----------------------

                                                      27  

children's best interest.                                  For all of these reasons, we conclude that the superior court did                                                                        



not err in finding that Joy failed to remedy the conduct and conditions that made Alyse                                                                                                      



and Arianna in need of aid.                             



                B.	            The Superior Court                                    Did Not                Err In Concluding                                  That   OCS   Made  

                               Reasonable Efforts To Reunify Joy And Her Daughters.                                                             



                               AS   47.10.086(a)   and   AS   47.10.088(a)   require   a   finding,   by   clear   and  



convincing evidence, that OCS has made "timely, reasonable efforts to provide family                                                                                                        



support   services   to   the   child   and   to   the   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                                                                                                  



                 28  

home."                                                                                                                                                                                            

                       These efforts must include "(1) identify[ing] family support services that will  



                                                                                                                                                                                                    

assist the parent . . . in remedying the conduct or conditions in the home that made the  



                                                                                                                                                                                                    

child a child in need of aid" and "(2) actively offer[ing] the parent . . . and referr[ing] the  



                                                             29  

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

parent" to these services.                                           OCS must also document its actions in identifying and  



                                                      30  

                                                            

offering these services. 



                               We have explained that "[r]eunification efforts . . . need only be reasonable  

                                                                                                                                                                                  



under the circumstances," which include "the parent's level of cooperation with OCS's  

                                                                                                                                                                                           



                27             See   AS   47.10.088(b)   ("In   making   a   determination   under   (a)(2)   of   this  



section  [regarding  failure  to  remedy],  the  court  may  consider  any  fact  relating  to  the  best  

interests  of  the  child  .  .  .  .").  



                28             AS 47.10.86(a); see also CINA Rule 18(c)(2).  

                                                                                                                        



                29             AS 47.10.086(a)(1)-(2).  

                                         



                30             AS 47.10.086(a)(3).  

                                         



                                                                                                 -20-	                                                                                         7131
  


----------------------- Page 21-----------------------

                                      31  

efforts."                                      And even in this reasonable efforts inquiry, AS 47.10.086(f) provides that the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



"primary consideration" is still the child's best interests.                                                                                                                                                               



                                                              In this case, the superior court found that OCS had made reasonable efforts                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



as   defined   under   AS   47.10.086(a).     The   record   shows   that   OCS   made   significant,  



continual efforts to help Joy and her daughters over the course of nearly two years. OCS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



created   a   case   plan   for   the   family   and  attempted  to   involve   Joy   in   the   plan,   held  



numerous team decision meetings with Joy and her daughters, and offered Joy a number                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



of services intended to help improve her relationship with her daughters, including                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



parenting classes, "healthyrelationship                                                                                                                                            classes,"and                                                 parenting skills mentoring. Despite    



Joy's repeated refusals to engage in supervised visits with her daughters, OCS continued                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



to keep Joy apprised of her children's placements and treatments, and it continually                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



 sought ways for Joy to have contact with her children if she agreed to have her visits                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



 supervised. The record shows that Joy generally refused to comply with OCS's requests,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



denied OCS entry                                                                         into   the house despite a court order,                                                                                                                                              yelled   at caseworkers,                                                                                        and  



repeatedly said that she would rather relinquish her parental rights than work with OCS.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



Joy later became difficult to contact and ultimately left the state without informing                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

OCS.32  



                               31                             Shirley M. v. State, Dep't of Health & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



Servs., 342 P.3d 1233, 1241 (Alaska 2015) (citing                                                                                                                                                                                       Sherman B. v. State, Dep't of Health                                                                                                     

 & Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs.                                                                                                                                                     , 310 P.3d 943, 953 (Alaska 2013)).                                                                                                 



                               32                             Although  Joy  now  argues  that  OCS  should  have  helped  her  with  her  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

housing and job search, at trial OCS explained that Joy had adequate housing while she  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

was in Alaska and that it did refer Joy to services that could have helped her with a job  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 search if she had opted to participate in these services. An OCS caseworker also testified  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

that she tried to "problem solve" with Joy to help her get housing even after Joy had left  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Alaska.  



                                                                                                                                                                                               -21-                                                                                                                                                                                       7131
  


----------------------- Page 22-----------------------

                                                                                                                       

                    Joy challenges the superior court's reasonable efforts finding by arguing  



                                                                                                  

that AS 47.10.086(a) requires OCS to identify and provide "the right services" for her  



                                                                                                                         

and that it failed to do so. Joy argues that she required specific domestic violence related  



                                                                                                                     

services, yet she was assigned a caseworker with no training or experience in domestic  



                                                                                                                               

violence,  and  her  case  plan  included  no  domestic  violence  specific  referrals  or  



                                                                                                                          

counseling.  Joy contends that OCS's "efforts were patently unreasonable as they failed  



                                                                                                                     

to consider and to account for the mother's experience as a victim of traumatic domestic  



violence."  Joy also suggests that OCS actually made the situation worse by removing  



                                                                                                                                

her daughters from her home.  She thus argues that the superior court erred in failing to  



                                                                                                                   

evaluate OCS's efforts in light of her specific situation and her "extreme victimized  



state."  



                                                                                                                              

                    But these arguments are undermined by Joy's own refusal to complete the  



                                                                                                                          

psychological evaluation requested by OCS, which would have allowed OCS to assess  



                                                                                                                          

her needs and recommend services to meet those needs.  OCS might have been better  



                                                                                                                             

able to help Joy if she had been willing to take this threshold step, but OCS explains that  



                                                                                                                            

Joy "rebuffed the efforts (psychological evaluation) that would have allowed her case  



                                                                                                                         

plan to be more closely tailored to her domestic violence background."   The record  



                                                                                                                            

supports this assertion.  OCS also argues that the family's case plan could have been  



adjusted to meet Joy's needs if she had participated in other elements of the plan.  Yet  



                                                                                                                       

she adamantly refused to participate. Additionally, OCS was aware that Joy had suffered  



                                                                                                                      

under domestic violence for 20 years and "focused on getting her therapeutic support"  



                                                                                                                         

and "addressing her very obvious PTSD."  OCS referred Joy for individual and family  



                                                                                                                             

therapy at Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, which OCS indicated also  



                                                                                                                            

provides services specifically for domestic violence victims, but Joy did not engage with  



                                                                                                                          

the case plan  and therefore did  not receive the benefit of the therapies OCS made  



                   

available to her.  



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----------------------- Page 23-----------------------

                        Our precedent explains that OCS is not required to seek a court order to                                                        



                                                                                                                       33  

compel a parent to participate in services if the parent is unwilling.                                                                

                                                                                                                            OCS nonetheless  



                                                                                                                                  

took that step here by obtaining a court order compelling Joy to complete a psychological  



                                                                                                                                                    

evaluation.  Yet Joy still did not complete an appropriate evaluation.  Testimony at trial  



                                                                                                                                                      

demonstrated that the evaluation Joy completed out-of-state in late 2015, a year after the  



                                                                                                                                                      

court order, was inadequate for OCS's case-planning purposes as it failed to address her  



                                                                              

parenting capacity or the children's family history.  Because Joy repeatedly refused to  



                                                                                                                                             

allow OCS to assess her needs, her argument that OCS should have provided specific  



                                                                     

services to suit those needs is without merit.  



                                                                                                                                     

                        Moreover, our precedent expressly indicates that a parent's participation  

                                                                                                                           34   In a case where  

                                                                                                                                                

or lack thereof is relevant to the scope of efforts that OCS must make. 



a parent refused to talk with OCS caseworkers, refused to comply with OCS's conditions  

                                                                                                                                         



regarding supervised visits, and refused to complete a psychological evaluation, we  

                                                                                                                                                     



concluded that OCS's attempts to provide services and find safe means of facilitating  

                                                                                                                                        



visitation   satisfied   the  reasonable  efforts   requirement   in   light   of   the   parent's  

                                                                                                                                           

noncooperation.35                 Here, too, we conclude that the superior court did not err in finding  

                                                                                                                                              



that OCS's efforts were reasonable under AS 47.10.086, in the face of Joy's repeated  

                                                                                                                                            



refusals to complete a psychological evaluation, to take advantage of the services that  

                                                                                                                                                    



OCS did offer, or to work with OCS in any way.  

                                                                               



            33          See Wilson W.                v. State,       Office   of Children's Servs.                     ,   185   P.3d   94,   102   



(Alaska 2008).   



            34          E.g., Emma D. v. State, Dep't of Health &Soc. Servs., Office of Children's  

                                                                                                                                        

Servs.,  322  P.3d  842,  850  (Alaska  2014)  (quoting  Sherman  B.,  290  P.3d  at  432);  

                                                                                                                                                 

 Wilson W., 185 P.3d at 101 (citing K.N. v. State, 856 P.2d 468, 477 (Alaska 1993)).  

                                                                                                                                         



            35          Wilson W., 185 P.3d at 102-03.  

                                                                  



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----------------------- Page 24-----------------------

                          C.	                      The Superior Court Did Not Clearly Err In Finding That Termination                                                                                                                                                                

                                                   Of Joy's Parental Rights Is In Alyse's And Arianna's Best Interests.                                                                                                                                                                         



                                                   AS   47.10.088(c)   mandates   that  "[i]n  a   proceeding   under   this   chapter  



involving termination of . . . parental right[s] . . . , the court shall consider the best                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



interests of the child." Joy argues that the superior court erred in finding that termination                                                                                                                                                                                               



was in Alyse's and Arianna's best interests under this provision, contending that there                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



was insufficient evidence to support the court's finding. Joy cites literature on domestic                                                                                                                                                                                                           



violence that advises "view[ing] the child and non-offending parent as a unit" and                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



 suggests that "what is in the best interest of the mother is actually what is in the best                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



interest of the child."                                                           Based on these theories, Joy appears to argue that separating her                                                                                                                                                                        



from her daughters is harmful to all of them and thus contrary to Alyse's and Arianna's                                                                                                                                                                                                           



best interests.   



                                                   But OCS correctly responds that under Alaska law, "thebest                                                                                                                                                                    interests of the   



                                                                                                                                                                             36  

child, not those of the parents, are paramount."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                     And we cannot conclude that Joy's best  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

interests are aligned with those of her children at this point. Alyse specifically indicated  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

that she hopes to be adopted by her foster mother; this suggests that termination of Joy's  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

parental rights is in Alyse's best interest because it will allow Alyse to realize this goal  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

and achieve permanency and stability. Arianna is also doing well in her foster placement  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

and was having only sporadic communication with Joy in the months leading up to the  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

termination  hearing.                                                                 The  superior  court  found  that  the  girls  need  stability  and  an  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

opportunity for adoption. Although Joy argues that the girls have "struggled greatly" in  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

their placements, this contention is not supported by the testimony at trial, which showed  



                         36                       A.H.  v.  State,   Dep't   of   Health   &   Soc.   Servs.,   10   P.3d   1156,   1166  



(Alaska 2000) (quoting                                                                   A.A. v. State, Dep't of Family &Youth Servs.                                                                                                                           , 982 P.2d 256, 260                                      

(Alaska 1999)).   



                                                                                                                                                            -24-	                                                                                                                                                    7131
  


----------------------- Page 25-----------------------

that both Alyse and Arianna had become happier and that their behavior had improved                                                                                                       



since being placed in foster homes.                                 



                                Joy faults the superior court for not mentioning Arianna's foster placement                                                                             



in its termination order, in light of the fact that Arianna is not yet in a potential adoptive                                                                                              



home.   But the lack of an adoptive home is "not necessarily . . . a decisive factor in                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                 37  and we have previously affirmed the  

deciding whether to terminate parental rights,"                                                                                                                                                          



termination of parental rights even when the likelihood of finding a long-term adoptive  

                                                                                                                                                                                            

home  was  low.38                               Here,  there  is  no  indication  that  OCS  will  be  unable  to  find  a  

                                                                                                                                                                                                             



permanent home for Arianna.  The fact that Arianna is not yet in a definitive adoptive  

                                                                                                                                                                  



home does not preclude a finding that termination is in her best interest.  

                                                                                                                                                                               



                                Joy also emphasizes that the bond between her and her daughters is strong  

                                                                                                                                                                                                  



and asserts that her daughters need to be with her for their mutual recovery process. But  

                                                                                                                                                                                                        



our precedent makes clear that the existence of a bond between a parent and a child is not  

                                                                                                                                                                                                         



dispositive in the best-interests inquiry; in fact, we have affirmed termination in cases  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                                                                                                                                                             39  

where  the  parent  similarly  claimed  a  strong,  loving  bond  with  his  or  her  child.                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                              



Accordingly, Joy's bond with her daughters is insufficient to overturn the superior  

                                                                                                                                                                                            



court's finding that termination is in Alyse's and Arianna's best interests.  

                                                                                                                                                            



                37              Karrie B. ex rel. Reep v. Catherine J.                                                    , 181 P.3d 177, 185 (Alaska 2008).                                   



                38  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                S.H. v. State, Dep't of Health &Soc. Servs., Div. of Family &Youth Servs.,  

                                                                      

42 P.3d 1119, 1125 (Alaska 2002).  



                39              E.g., Chloe W. v. State, Dep't of Health &Soc. Servs., Office of Children's  

                                                                                                                                                                                       

Servs., 336 P.3d 1258, 1270-71 (Alaska 2014); Sherry R. v. State, Dep't of Health &Soc.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Servs., Office of Children's Servs., 332 P.3d 1268, 1278-79 (Alaska 2014); Barbara P.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

v. State, Dep't of Health &Soc. Servs., Office of Children's Servs., 234 P.3d 1245, 1263- 

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

64 (Alaska 2010).  

                            



                                                                                                   -25-                                                                                              7131
  


----------------------- Page 26-----------------------

                                 Finally, in arguing that the superior court erred in its best-interests analysis,                                                                                 



Joy also points to AS 47.10.088(b), which provides that the court may consider the best                                                                                                                       



interests of the child specifically in making a determination on the parent's failure to                                                                                                                          

                                                                                      40     Joy  notes that AS 47.10.088(b) provides a list of  

remedy under AS 47.10.088(a)(2).                                                                                                                                                                                  



factors that the court may consider relating to the best interests of the child, including  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



                                 (1) the likelihood of returning the child to the parent within  

                                 a reasonable time . . . ; (2) the amount of effort by the parent  

                                                                                                                                                                       

                                 to remedy the conduct or the conditions in the home; (3) the  

                                                                                                                                                                               

                                 harm caused to the child; (4) the likelihood that the harmful  

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                 conduct will continue; and (5) the history of conduct by or  

                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                 conditions created by the parent.  

                                                                                                                    



Joy argues that the superior court erred by failing to discuss any of these factors in its  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



oral or written orders. But AS 47.10.088(b) only provides that "the court may consider"  

                                                                                                                                                                                                

any of the enumerated factors; it does not create a duty for the court to do so.41                                                                                                                 The fact  

                                                                                                                                                                                                               



that the court did not expressly cite these factors is not grounds for reversing the superior  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    



court's finding.  

                                         



                                 Moreover, although thesuperior courtdidnotexpressly mention thefactors  

                                                                                                                                                                                                       



listed in AS 47.10.088(b), it did make factual findings relevant to several of these factors.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



The court cited Joy's lack of cooperation with OCS and her unwillingness to change her  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                



behavior, which is relevant to "the amount of effort by the parent to remedy the conduct  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    

or the conditions in the home."42                                                  The court also cited the girls' "maladaptive behaviors  

                                                                                                                                                                                                



                 40              AS 47.10.088(b) provides that "[i]n making a determination under (a)(2)                                            



of this section [regarding failure to remedy], the court may consider any fact relating to                                                                                                                         

the best interests of the child," including certain enumerated factors relating to the                                                                                                                         

parent's conduct and its impact on the child.                                                    



                 41              See AS 47.10.088(b) (emphasis added).  

                                                                                                                                      



                 42              See AS 47.10.088(b)(2).  

                                                     



                                                                                                       -26-                                                                                                7131
  


----------------------- Page 27-----------------------

learned from their chaotic and abusive family home," which is relevant to "the harm                                                                 



                                    43  

caused to the child."                                                                                                                                     

                                         The court noted that the children had been in State custody for 17  



                                                                                                                                         

months by the time of the termination hearing and found that "[w]ithout supportive,  



                                                                                                                                                  

nurturing, consistent caregivers, each child is at risk of losing the gains she has made"  



                                                                                                                                                           

during that time.  These findings are relevant to "the likelihood of returning the child to  

the parent within a reasonable time based on the child's age or needs."44  The findings  



regarding Joy's failure to make meaningful progress during this period are similarly  

                                                                                                                                              



relevant  to  the  likelihood  of  returning  Alyse  and  Arianna  to  Joy's  home  within  a  

                                                                                                                                                           

reasonable time45  and to "the likelihood that the harmful conduct will continue."46  

                                                                                                                                



                        All of these findings are supported by the record, and they all point toward  

                                                                                                                                                  



the conclusion that termination of Joy's parental rights is in Alyse's and Arianna's best  

                                                                                                                                                       



interests. Ultimately, although the superior court did not cite them directly, it considered  

                                                                                                                                          



a number of the relevant statutory factors in finding that termination was in Alyse's and  

                                                                                                                                                        



Arianna's best interests. Given thecircumstances, particularly Joy's lack of progress and  

                                                                                                                                                        



the girls' significant progress in foster care, the superior court did not clearly err in  

                                                                                                                                                          



finding that termination serves Alyse's and Arianna's best interests.  

                                                                                                            



V.          CONCLUSION  



                        We AFFIRM the superior court's order terminating Joy's parental rights  

                                                                                                                                                    



to Alyse and Arianna.  

                         



            43          See  AS 47.10.088(b)(3).   



            44          See  AS 47.10.088(b)(1).   



            45  

                                 

                        See id.  



            46          See  AS 47.10.088(b)(4).   



                                                                           -27-                                                                     7131
  

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