• The Growing Number of Alaska Children in Foster Care, 2011-2015

      Vadapalli, Diwakar; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-03-01)
      The number of Alaska children in foster care was up sharply in 2015, with the average monthly number jumping more than 20%. We don’t have the data to document why the number went up, but state officials have said it might be partly because the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) is investigating more cases and taking more aggressive measures to protect children and avoid another spate of child deaths, as happened in 2014. Recent news reports also point to increased abuse of heroin among parents as potentially contributing to more child abuse and neglect.
    • How Do Alaskans Cover Their Medical Bills?

      Leask, Linda; Frazier, Rosyland; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2017-04-01)
      The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been at the top of the news lately, with Congress considering but then dropping proposed changes. Congress will try again to change the ACA—but it’s uncertain how or when. This summary looks broadly at all the kinds of health-care coverage Alaskans have now, and how ACA provisions have changed that coverage.
    • Perceptions of Universal Ballet Delivery Systems

      Hanna, Virgene; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-06-22)
      A total of 412 registered voters in the Bethel, Dillingham, and Kusilvak Census Areas completed surveys with ISER interviewers in March and April of 2018. The majority (74%) of respondents reported their race as Alaska Native and 13% were White. Near the beginning of the survey, interviewers asked respondents how they preferred to receive their ballot and 60% said they preferred to get it in person on Election Day, 21% would prefer to receive it by mail, and 17% would prefer to receive their ballot online. After respondents heard a description of three voting methods being considered: 1) keep voting the way it is now; 2) mail out and mail back; and 3) receive ballot in the mail and have different ways to return it their preferences changed somewhat. Of the three methods, keep voting the way it is now was the first choice by 49% of respondents, followed by 36% for option 3, and 14% for option 2. Respondents had little experience with voting methods other than in-person. When asked what made it difficult for them and other members of their community to vote, personal reasons, such as being sick or out of town, was the most frequent (37%) response. About two-thirds (64%) reported personal reasons made it difficult for people in their community to vote followed by 46% saying that the ballot being written in English made it difficult for people in their community. Over half (56%) of respondents reported they are satisfied with their mail service, only 17% of those who were satisfied said they would prefer to receive or return their ballot by mail.
    • Repeat Maltreatment in Alaska: Assessment and Exploration of Alternative Measures

      Vadapalli, Diwakar; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-12-01)
      Most deaths and serious injuries among children who are abused or neglected are preceded by multiple reported instances of maltreatment. The Office of Children Services (OCS), Alaska’s child protection agency, is very concerned about repeat maltreatment. It’s extremely damaging to children and demoralizing to everyone who tries to help prevent it. Over the last several years, Alaska has consistently had among the highest rates in the country of repeat child maltreatment, as reported by the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those federal figures measure the percentage of children who were the victims of at least two substantiated reports—that is, confirmed reports—of maltreatment within six months. In 2009, nearly 10% of children who were the subjects of investigation by OCS were reported as suffering repeat maltreatment, compared with less than 6% nationwide. By 2013, the share in Alaska was at nearly 13%, compared with a national rate of less than 5.5% (Figure S-1). But even those grim federal statistics don’t provide a complete picture of repeat child maltreatment in Alaska. Many analysts believe that not all cases where maltreatment may have occurred are substantiated, and that maltreatment of a child may be reported a number of times, over a longer period, before it is substantiated. Also, for various reasons, many reports of maltreatment are not investigated at all, in Alaska and other states, and only a small share of those that are investigated are substantiated. For example, in Alaska in 2013, 42% of reports in an average month were not investigated, and only 12% of reports were substantiated
    • Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska

      Vadapalli, Diwakar; Hanna, Virgene; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-11-01)
      In Alaska, as in every other state, people who suspect children are being abused or neglected can contact the designated child protection agency. In Alaska, that agency is the Office of Children Services (OCS). It is responsible for investigating all reported incidents and determining the level of risk to the health, safety, and welfare of children. In a number of instances, children will be removed from their families and homes due to unsafe conditions, and they are often placed in foster care. 1 Being taken away from their families is of course traumatizing for children. The number of American children in foster care at any time, and the length of time they spend in foster care, has been closely watched over the last several decades. Several changes in policy and practice were introduced in the last 20 years, at national and state levels, to reduce both the number of children in foster care and the length of time they stay in foster care. These changes caused some dramatic trends at the national level: the number of children in foster care in the U.S. declined by almost a quarter (23.7%) between 2002 and 2012, with the decline being most pronounced among AfricanAmerican children (47.1%). As of 2012, African-American children made up 26% of all children in foster care nationwide, down from 37% a decade earlier. But during the same period, the proportion of children in foster care classified as belonging to two or more races almost doubled. And American Indian/Alaska Native children are the highest represented ethnic group among foster children—13 of every 1,000 American Indian/Alaska Native children in the U.S. were in foster care in 2012. In contrast, no such dramatic changes happened in Alaska in recent years. This paper reports on foster children in Alaska by age, gender, race, and region over the period 2006-2013. This information is important for state policymakers working to better protect abused and neglected children. At the end of the paper we discuss questions the data raise and describe additional data needed to better help children in foster care in Alaska. We compiled data for this analysis from monthly reports of key indicators on foster children in the state. OCS publishes monthly data on select indicators (Alaska State Statutes 2011, Monthly reports concerning children, AK. Stat. § 47.05.100), in PDF format on its website (http://dhss.alaska.gov/ocs/Pages/statistics/default.aspx). Data presented here are snapshots in time and do not follow unique children over time.