Charlie Pierce: Let’s talk about the 3,000 children in state custody and our obligation to address this issue



As the drama of the political season unfolds, none of the headlines or debate discussions have addressed true news, like the State of Alaska’s Child in Need of Aid crisis. 

Alaskan politicians have not been able to resolve this epidemic that has plagued our state for at least 15 years and it’s not front-page news. The State of Alaska’s new go-to agency, the State of Alaska Department of Family and Community Services was commissioned in July.

This same agency was previously DFYS (Division of Family & Youth Services) and OCS (Office of Children’s Services). The name has changed; however, not enough changes have remedied the fact that over 3,000 of our Alaskan children are in crisis, and yet Juneau never talks about it. Why aren’t these alarming statistics front page news in the newspaper today?

Yes, there are over 3,000 Alaska children in state custody. This means the State of Alaska has taken control away from 6,000 parents to raise their own children. A large percent of these children is Alaskan Native from our rural communities. To visualize these 3,000 young people, imagine the entire population of Kotzebue or an entire cruise ship full of children. You and I are responsible for their safety. And yet, many of them are anything but safe. These children deserve, at a minimum, to have safe, stable, loving homes.

While on the campaign trail, I learned of one 7-year-old child, Isaac. Isaac has been a ward of the state, off and on, his whole 7 years of life. He has been in 27 foster homes, stretching from his home in rural Alaska to foster homes 1,000 miles away from his village.

Isaac told his social worker he wants to be “OCS” when he grows up as he was moved from one foster home to another. This is Isaacs’ normal. Why? We pulled him from his family long ago and we are responsible 24/7/365 to care, nurture and hopefully see he is loved. How can this developing child not be further injured by being endlessly shuffled through 27 strange homes? And when he is moved from one home to another, garbage bags are used as his luggage. Garbage bags. It is humiliating for me, as an Alaskan, to know we use garbage bags to transport this little guy’s precious treasures.

This is real life happening right under our noses. Why don’t we ever hear about it? These child cases are all classified “confidential” by the courts and are closed the public. With today’s system, a family member can harm a child, and even though OCS is aware of it, the perpetrator is rarely charged and held accountable. And because no one hears a peep, the abuse can continue. And it does.

Every Alaskan could share a story about this silent epidemic. In a group setting, just bring up the words “foster care,” “OCS,” or “child protection.” You will quickly realize that children in need of aid in Alaska grow up, they become a human trafficking targets and a statistic in the correctional and mental health systems. This is grim. This is tough. This is where Alaskans need to get tough.

Every Alaskan I know cares about children. Our state does not adequately support our foster homes, so we do not have enough of them. Our state agencies are not partnering enough with the rural communities, Native corporations, and tribes, so we are constantly battling one another. There is a revolving door shortage of child protection officers/social workers, but this is not a surprise. For $24 an hour, these super-people must fly into communities through every kind of weather, enter homes, investigate cases, write legal pleadings, testify in court, and take kids from families then get up the next day and do it again.

And yet, for the past two decades, the Division of Family & Community Services (formerly DFYS, OCS) has enjoyed the biggest budgets of public money in the state. Where do the millions of dollars go? Let us dig into the line items of those budgets and see how responsible Juneau has been with public funds set aside for children like Isaac.

The more I learn of this shattered system of our children in crisis, the more I am convinced that Juneau is ignoring these very tough issues.

As governor, children in need of aid will receive my immediate attention. I am ready to shake up Juneau and get this crisis in the forefront. Alaskans have been ghosted on this subject for years, it is time for transparency relating to this epidemic.

As governor, I will find the answer to these questions of “why” and I will demand cooperation with the communities and tribes of Alaska. Tough leadership is needed more than ever now in the State of Alaska. We cannot be proud of the Alaska Child in Need of Aid crisis, but it is time this makes the front-page news. Isaac and the other 2,999 children are counting on us.

Charlie Pierce is a candidate for governor and the former mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.


  1. Amen for Charlie Pierce’s wisdom and his desire to be a positive leader for these little angels.

    Interesting especially since he’s never been to Juneau and he has the empathy and compassion for these children.

  2. Charlie for director of OCS. The native people demonstrated at elders and youth those leaders can’t even help one disturbed young woman w/o apd,still. Maybe one day our Native peoples will understand why our great-great grandparents (1860’s) turned to Christ. You know that many villages are w/o a church because pastors retired or died and their church doors are closed. There no wonder native alaska has its suicide, addictions, abuses, incarcerations, drifters when there no one preaching the gospel and
    discipling those once w/o hope w/o life w/o a reason why one was born who are teaching hope themselves when they were taught what the bible shows about their worth.

    • Native Alaskan famililies were torn apart by zealous “christian’s” who made the decision that their religion was best for the native people! These natives have had their own traditions and relationships with their own beliefs that are centuries old. I get sick to my stomach when I think of how cruel and bigoted these Christian’s were. The went family to family and literally stole all children under the age of 16! These children were never returned to their families! The were warehoused and brainwashed to believe the stories they were told. Not all Christian’s were so cruel but to assume or even think the natives were better off after they were cleansed to be a Christian is ludicrous!
      Actually many of the natives social problems stem from the fact that they were removed and lost connections with their traditions. Many many children who are now grown and old still suffer the trauma and memories of those horrible events

  3. 3,000 Alaska children in state custody. Well I don’t know if this is true or not. However this seems to me a last ditch effort to get votes just like Walker saying in his radio add getting $2.00 a gallon gasoline. But if it is true or not let’s get someone from the agency to address the statement of Charlie Pierce on MRAK.

  4. Location: Bethel Type: Fire Fatality
    On October 24, 2022, at 11:04 pm, Alaska State Troopers were notified of a house fire in the village of Oscarville. It was reported that two juvenile’s we seriously injured in the fire. Oscarville does not have airplane access and the two children were transported via boat to Bethel. One of the juvenile’s succumbed to injuries sustained in the fire, the second juvenile was sent by MedEvac to an Anchorage area hospital for treatment. The investigation into the cause of the fire was conducted by Alaska State Troopers and the findings were reviewed by the Alaska State Fire Marshal’s Office. The cause of the fire is believed to be electrically caused and non-criminal.

    A nine year old dead, 6 year old seriously injured. Reported they were alone. It was about 25 degrees in Oscarville a few minutes ago. Why is a 9 year old and 6 year old alone? Troopers say it’s non-criminal, so who is responsible for these two children under 10 as winter sets in? Screwed up state we live in. The poor kids don’t have a chance in rural Alaska.

  5. Freedom is not about one being able to punish a helpless child, either by a late term abortion or by negligence of parental responsibility for the welfare of a child by properly caring for it or putting it up for adoption if necessary. It is truly sad that this continues without any media attention, and to think that our state is complicent in this is deplorable.

  6. Charlie, at this point nobody is listening to you.

    Now that your political career is over, here’s a suggestion: clean up and get a job as an advocate for Children’s Services; dive into the details and sincerely work to develop better ways to do things. Make a positive difference in the world.

    • I don’t believe that Charlie published this piece with hopes for his underfunded campaign. I truly believe that he is a man of integrity and wishes to publish his views on a sad situation while he still has notoriety. And I for one don’t doubt the truth of it. Let’s at least look into it.

    • “Charlie, at this point nobody is listening to you……….”
      Please speak for yourself. I heard the message loud and clear. His message is completely unrelated to his campaign trouble, which AFAIC might be deserved and might not.
      He forwarded some numbers that I found both believable and troubling. Too bad you and so many more are so caught up in the political and ideological vitriol that your hearing and consideration has been so completely compromised.

    • Well sweetie…we are still listening to Charlie! But not to you…he makes right choices! Your excuse is??

  7. Last gasp of a finished candidate!
    How about answering the sexual harassment and sexual predator questions before talking about children?

  8. I cannot begin to conceive of 27 foster homes btwn ages 1-7. What is WRONG??? Also, why can’t adoption be part of the conversation? When a woman is struggling with substance abuse or mental/emotional issues such that her un-born child’s health is endangered, that would be a good time to talk about adoption vs parenting if the woman isn’t ready or capable of parenting. OPEN adoption is popular now. That means the birth mother may choose the parents she wants to raise her baby. She can meet them in person and get to know them. She can choose Alaska native parents, too. After the child is born, there is still time to change her mind. If she chooses adoption, she can arrange for in-person visits so she can know her son or daughter as they grow and be present for special occasions like birthdays or holidays. Children need a stable home. Something is wrong with the system if a child is fostered by 27 homes.

  9. DFYS, OCS, Family and community services. All name changes, the first from DFYS to OCS cost the state in excess of 3 million many years ago. My suggestion is the department appoint a panel of Physicians, Nurses, , Police Officers, Counselors, Social workers, School Nurses etc. to work at a team to solve the problems in this State to protect our most precious resource, Our Children. There are many good foster homes, however, there are foster homes where children have been abused Nothing has improved in the advocacy for children by changing the name of the agency. I believe a team effort would be the best way to go. Social workers are overworked. The team can work with both parents and children to make for a safe family. Yes our state is complicit in many ways.

    • Those professionals already being used in cases. They aren’t successful. Many of the 3000 children could be returned to their birth families, ocs is just milking the system by claiming imperfect conditions to keep their division’s jobs while frustrating parents and family members who want the child returned.

      • Jen, you’ ve expressed the truth!
        I’m a true witness to exactly what you’ve nailed and clinched!
        Yes, another; corrupt, child trafficking and kidnapped government
        Since, they couldn’t find a reason to withdrawal them from our home, after a welfare check; the social worker encouraged our teenagers to run away, so that they would have a reason to classify them as, ‘ a child in need…’Kenai office kidnapped 4 of our offsprings and to our face told us, ” we don’t know what to do with your case: you don’t drink; you don’t do drugs… you’re a difficult case…?
        As a Christian family, our innocent children were perverted daily; by environmental exposures they were not raised with; television and striped of a holiness life and the system against our Faith. Put them in clothing adequate for men!
        Cut their long, hair and introduce our daughters to make up….we were gullible to trust that the system would return them soon….7 years later, our youngest has ‘aged out ‘ of the system; but the system thru another agency continues to provide: monies for vehicles, clothing, fences for their homes, lawn tractors…the list is continues!
        All four have psychological and trauma for being brain washed and enticed to have stayed in the system, until aged out! They turned to alcohol and drugs for comfort…
        Yes, taxpayers we’re being duped to pay for our children, and other children to be destroyed, mentally!
        Let me tell-ya, it matters not who we are… someday, those who destroyed my family, under the lies of giving my children a perverted life; over a holiness life, will give an account to thee Almighty Creator of Heavens and Earth…
        We’re trying to repair the psychological damage the system has done… with prayer and love for our children….
        I don’t think, Mr. Pierce, will be able to tackle this giant, corrupt, government ; it’s too corrupt, just like the judicial system across the country, but that’s another chapter…

  10. Charlie, stick a fork in it, call it done.
    Your campaign’s on life support, your running mate quit and endorsed your opponent.
    And the best you can do is a dreary damned lecture about “our obligation”?

  11. Some people commenting in this section are so far beyond Truth, and are totally ignorant! The article pushed a serious Issue and is typical of Governments Failures. So While the Gara and Walker campaigns make their final big campaign pledges pushing to re establish a whopping few thousand dollars a year in PFD funds to entice the votes of 20 or 30 thousand desperate and poor people who live in poverty and desperate for anything they can get to survive, it seems as though Mr.Pierce is looking at the bigger picture and some real problems that rural Alaskans have. Gara and Walker think a mostly meaningless PFD will suck them votes of support from people who are basicly financially doomed and totally dependent on any finances they can scratch up, including the PFD. Pretty sad that the PFD and other bigger Pork pledges have been used to get votes when in reality it’s just a tool some morally corrupt politicians use every election cycle in Alaska. The sickening truth is revealed when you read some of these comments from people who most likely have no idea why family’s get destroyed and alcohol and drugs take over Many communities. Mr. Peirce is smart enough to acknowledge and address some of the most serious problems That alaskans have… Gara and Walker are Carpet beggers, they don’t give a dam about the real issues, they are part of the problem, feed them power and they will insure you get a PFD. Totally wrong and disgusting politicians! Maybe some day rural Democrats will wake up and see they are being played by the Democrats. Their slogan should be Give us Power, and we will get you your PFD! PFD! All while not giving a hoot about the real problems !

  12. Oh this can’t be true? It was quite recently I remember all the “Christians” celebrating when Roe was overturned and saying now was the time to show how loved and wanted all children were? Maybe I misinterpreted all those bible quotes and prayer emojis? Hmmmm? Maybe those were just cute, non FAS, proper prenatal care privileged white babies? Surely all those who were so again abortion are stepping up to the job of foster parent, which, incidentally is harder than adoption. Nope. Didn’t think so. Nor are they stepping up to work as boots on the ground taking care of these kids or working for agencies that do. But don’t worry. On Sundays they put a little money in the offering plate and pat themselves on the back for what good and Christ like lives they lead. Fyi, not anti-religion… just anti-hypocrisy. Pay the poor professionals who do this real and heartbreaking work more, pay the therapist more so more of them will go into this, provider better caregiver relief, make it beneficial to adopt, terminate rights earlier so 27 foster homes doesn’t happen. Or, if these practical solutions don’t work we can all pray a little more and quote some bible verses while still not volunteering our homes to take in foster kids in a State where there is a real need for more loving foster homes.

  13. Laughable GOP deflections:
    January 6 => “How about those high gas prices?”
    The Big Lie => “Inflation inflation inflation…”
    Trump => “Hillary…”
    Charges of sexual harassment => “What about the 3000 kids in State custody?”
    So pathetic and ineffective. Give it up.

    • Dawg, what about the J-6 show trail? It was so poorly executed and contrived political theater that it was funny! Especially so since nobody cares about an insurrection where the insurrectionist are too stupid to even be armed. I mean think about that Dawg, how is that an insurrection? People saw a real insurrection in the streets with Democrat sponsored groups killing , burning and looting two summers ago. Perhaps all that real violence numbed them too much to care about Nancy’s stolen Lap Top? What a group of losers did to the halls of the Capitol is insignificant compared to what the Democrats have done to peoples pocketbooks these last few years.
      Take another big toke off that fatty Dawg, but keep your comments coming, I laugh every time I read one.

  14. As someone from inside the system witnessing it’s failures I can tell you that Many emails to the current governor and department heads have been ignored. Vetted solutions have been suggested, pulled from other states that are implementing them, no response. No attempt is being made to increase the number of foster homes or properly support the homes that are left.

    Some kids are currently being turned away from the foster care system and left with biological parents even with verified abuse and neglect occurring. This is because the caseworkers have run out of homes to place them in and so have no other choice but to leave them where they are.

    Is this the best we can do for Alaska’s kids?

    • Thank you for your input; it takes guts to take on City Hall. Your candid comments are noted; a watchdog group has begun and will be publishing a survey soon for people like you to comment on. Until the noise is LOUD and clear, nothing will happen.

    • Child seizing is actually human trafficking. To stay out of the quagmire: stay sober, obey God, live up to marital vows, do not be a romantic about others mates (Hint, if you aren’t married to that person they are someone else’s mate), highly value (your own) family ties. Do not marry dimpled sociopaths.

  15. What we’d love to see:
    Charlie drop out of the race and back Dunleavy.
    Re-elected Dunleavy appoint Charlie as the new Commissioner of Health and Social Services for Alaska.
    What a delectable outcome for Conservatives.

  16. A HUGE COVERUP HERE AND THAT IS PROBABLY why his campaign was sabotaged. VERY FISHY, lots of stories down south of kidnapping, foster care horror stories. The biden crime family are way worse than we can imagine. Charlie did very well with the debate and is about FREEDOM ! anyone can make up a sexual story DAYS before and election. it happens all the time. God bless him and his campaign for GOOD ! I wonder how many alaskans will DO anything about this EXPOSEE .

  17. Charlie, save yourself further embarrassment, as did Bill Walker in November 2018. People will forgive and forget. Back Republican Dunleavy and let’s get this party started. If you stay in the race, people will remember you in a negative light. Do yourself a BIG favor.

  18. The people who are still Barking for Mr. Pierce to drop out of the Govenors race are just Trying to lighten the Republican Vote, there is absolutely no reason to, Allegations are just that Allegations. With the new Voting System there is no reason to drop out when your ranking the red, either way the top candidate gets the votes of the other one. Mr. Pierces Supporters just need to stay the course and rank him 1, Dunleavy 2 . It gets so tiresome and boring when you get a few hysterical Know nothings posting stuff. They Instantly swarm in and pile on, they get totally off subject like in this article , and they become Twitter geeks , they love the drama and create and twist their own truths. The Tactics being used to squander Mr. Pierces efforts are right out of the Liberal Progressives hand book, these Loons will stop at nothing to Destroy even the best of people. These tactics are being used Nationally. Some people will do anything to gain power! Stay in the Race Mr. Pierce. Any Educated Voter who would say their gonna rank Dunleavy-Gara or Dunleavy-Walker is being totally dishonest . So Drowned out the few hysterical Noise Makers and Keep up the Good work Mr. Peirce! As for the Noise making Twitter Geeks, Get a life people!

  19. We all read the nay-slayers comments and know that’s the Democratic trolls trolling. Why can’t people accept that this is the hard core truth in our state? Every other candidate Has been and Juneau, this shouldn’t be news at all?

    I appreciated this overview from Mr Pierce. He’s never worked in Juneau and his fresh perspective to what the State of Alaska is up to is to be commended. Regardless Of what becomes of this election, it’s obvious our state has some answers to come Up with after reading this.

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