ENACT A STATE STATUTE TO FORMALLY RECOGNIZE INDIAN CUSTODIANSHIP AS A PATHWAY TO PERMANENCY FOR CHILD IN NEED OF AID CASES
Lastly, this Section explains the cultural and practical benefits of creating an Indian custodianship as a form of permanency for Alaska's child protection system.
First, child protection cases can already be resolved by creating an Indian custodianship. However, creating an Indian custodianship requires an unnecessary hurdle--transfer to a Tribal court.
Third, a state statute would provide an affirmative answer to whether a child protection case can be resolved through creating an Indian custodianship. Without affirmative authority, cases where this is an option can languish in litigation, resulting in more open cases for the already overburdened OCS, and most importantly, more children needlessly spending more time in the foster care system rather than achieving permanency through an Indian custodianship.
A natural extension of this Compact would be a state statute recognizing the culturally appropriate case resolution of establishing an Indian custodianship. This strengthens state-Tribal relations because a state statute is more than an acknowledgement of a problem: it addresses the problem.
Furthermore, the statute should address what is required from OCS: either the Department's agreement or non-opposition, or a court order authorizing the creation of the Indian custodianship over the OCS's objections.
Requiring OCS consent based on an OCS-approved homestudy unnecessarily complicates permanency planning through Indian custodianship. No state or federal subsidy would attach to an Indian custodianship, so the stringent standards required to receive a financial subsidy should not be applied.