With election season over and the legislature set to reconvene next Tuesday, Rep. Tammie Wilson is renewing her criticism of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the Office of Children Services (OCS) because of what she views as overzealous actions in separating children from families.
In September, Wilson accused the OCS of “Legal kidnapping” and calling them a “Protected empire.” She even went so far as to call for a Grand Jury investigation into their actions.
At the time she said:
”OCS has become a protected empire built on taking children and separating families. This is not to say there are not those children who do need to be removed from horrible situations and need protection. I believe children and parents are caught up in legal kidnapping and ineffective politics.”
Now Wilson is taking aim at the Attorney General’s Office for “Hijacking” her request and is calling on citizens to offer public testimony on how the two state agencies do their work.
Here is her full statement released today complete with public testimony times and locations:
WILSON CALLS FOR PUBLIC TESTIMONY REGARDING THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES
Thursday, January 12, 2017, North Pole, Alaska – Representative Tammie Wilson today announced statewide public testimony opportunities for Alaskans not satisfied with the current state of the Office of Children’s Services.
On September 7, 2016, Rep. Wilson requested that a Grand Jury conduct an investigation into how the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the Office of Children Services (OCS) are complying with statutory duties.
“The Attorney General’s Office hijacked my request and to this date there has been no action taken even after Director Christy Lawton admitted to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on September 9, 2016, that she expects to fail the upcoming 2017 federal review audit because the benchmarks are very high,” Wilson, R-North Pole, said.
Between 2012 and 2015 the number of children taken from their homes in Alaska soared by 65-percent, with most of that increase between 2014 and 2015 (http://nccpr.org/reports/2006to2015.pdf).
“Why should anyone expect anything different when the head of the Alaska child welfare agency confuses child removal with child safety, and about breaking federal law requiring ‘reasonable efforts’ to keep families together,” Wilson said. (http://youthtoday.org/2016/11/alaska-unreasonable -assault-on-reasonable-efforts/)
“I have received hundreds of calls from those touched by OCS in some way and wanting to tell their story,” Wilson said. “It is obvious by the lack of action from the Attorney General’s office that they do not want to listen to any of the facts that have been submitted.”
Public testimony will be conducted across Alaska on the following dates and times:
Saturday, January 21, 2017 Mat-Su LIO, 12-4 p.m.
Thursday, January 26, 2017 Juneau Capitol room 120, 5-7 p.m.
Saturday, January 28, 2017 Kenai LIO, 12-4 p.m.
Saturday, February 4, 2017 Anchorage LIO, 12-4 p.m.
Saturday, February 11, 2017 Bethel LIO, 12-4 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 2017 Fairbanks North Star Borough Building, 12-4 p.m. (in person only)
Saturday, February 25, 2017 Kodiak LIO, 12-4 p.m.
To participate via phone call 1-844-586-9085 and ask to be connected to the meeting.
Rep. Wilson recommends bringing written testimony so that it can be easily shared with all legislators.