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HB 17: "An Act relating to children in need of aid; authorizing additional family members to consent to disclosure of confidential or privileged information about children and families involved with children's services within the Department of Health and Social Services to officials for review or use in official capacities; relating to reports of harm; and relating to adoptions and foster care."

00                              HOUSE BILL NO. 17                                                                          
01 "An Act relating to children in need of aid; authorizing additional family members to                                   
02 consent to disclosure of confidential or privileged information about children and                                      
03 families involved with children's services within the Department of Health and Social                                   
04 Services to officials for review or use in official capacities; relating to reports of harm;                            
05 and relating to adoptions and foster care."                                                                             
06 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
07    * Section 1.  AS 47.10.080(p) is amended to read:                                                                
08            (p)  If a child is removed from the parental home, the department shall provide                              
09       reasonable visitation between the child and the child's parents, guardian, and family.                            
10       When determining what constitutes reasonable visitation with a family member, the                                 
11       department shall consider the nature and quality of the relationship that existed                                 
12       between the child and the family member before the child was committed to the                                     
13       custody of the department.  The court may require the department to file a visitation                             
01       plan with the court.  The department may deny visitation to the parents, guardian, or                             
02       family members if there is clear and convincing evidence that visits are not in the                               
03       child's best interests.  If the department denies visitation to a parent or family                            
04       member of a child, the department shall inform the parent or family member of a                               
05       reason for the denial and of the parent's or family member's right to request a                               
06       review hearing.  A parent, family member, or guardian who is denied visitation may                        
07       request a review hearing.                                                                                         
08    * Sec. 2.  AS 47.10.088(i) is amended to read:                                                                     
09            (i)  The department shall concurrently identify, recruit, process, and approve a                             
10       qualified person or family for an adoption whenever a petition to terminate a parent's                            
11       rights to a child is filed.  The department may not approve an adoption by a                                  
12       person or family who is not related to the child by blood if a relative of the child                          
13       requests that the department approve the relative for the adoption unless the                                 
14       adoption by the child's relative is not in the child's best interest, is prohibited                           
15       under (l) of this section, or is otherwise contrary to federal or state law.  If the                          
16       court issues an order to terminate under (j) of this section, the department shall report                         
17       within 30 days on the efforts being made to recruit a permanent placement for the                                 
18       child if a permanent placement was not approved at the time of the trial under (j) of                             
19       this section.  The report must document recruitment efforts made for the child.                                   
20    * Sec. 3.  AS 47.10.088 is amended by adding new subsections to read:                                              
21            (l)  The department may not approve an adoption by a person related to the                                   
22       child by blood if the department                                                                                  
23                 (1)  makes a determination, supported by clear and convincing                                           
24       evidence, that adoption of the child by the relative will result in physical or mental                            
25       injury to the child; in making that determination, poverty, including inadequate or                               
26       crowded housing, on the part of the person related to the child by blood is not                                   
27       considered prima facie evidence that physical or mental injury to the child will occur;                           
28                 (2)  determines that a member of the relative's household who is 12                                     
29       years of age or older was the perpetrator in a substantiated report of abuse under                                
30       AS 47.17; or                                                                                                      
31                 (3)  determines that a member of the relative's household who is 12                                     
01       years of age or older is under arrest for, is charged with, has been convicted of, or has                         
02       been found not guilty by reason of insanity of, a serious offense; notwithstanding this                           
03       paragraph, the department may approve an adoption by the relative if the relative                                 
04       demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that conduct described in this                                 
05       paragraph occurred at least five years before the intended adoption and the conduct                               
06                      (A)  did not involve a victim who was under 18 years of age at                                     
07            the time of the conduct;                                                                                     
08                      (B)  was not a crime of domestic violence as defined in                                            
09            AS 18.66.990; and                                                                                            
10                      (C)  was not a violent crime under AS 11.41.100 - 11.41.455 or                                     
11            a law or ordinance of another jurisdiction having similar elements.                                          
12            (m)  For the purpose of determining whether the home of a relative meets the                                 
13       requirements for adoption of the child, the department shall conduct a criminal                                   
14       background check from state and national criminal justice information available under                             
15       AS 12.62.  The department may conduct a fingerprint background check on any                                       
16       member of the relative's household who is 12 years of age or older when the relative                              
17       requests adoption of the child.  For the purposes of obtaining criminal justice                                   
18       information under this subsection, the department is a criminal justice agency                                    
19       conducting a criminal justice activity under AS 12.62.                                                            
20            (n)  A person related to a child by blood who is denied a request for an                                     
21       adoption under (i) of this section may request a review hearing by the court.  If the                             
22       department denies a request by a person related to a child by blood to adopt a child                              
23       under (i) of this section, the department shall inform the relative of the reason for the                         
24       denial and of the relative's right to request a review hearing.                                                   
25    * Sec. 4.  AS 47.10.092(a) is amended to read:                                                                     
26            (a)  Notwithstanding AS 47.10.090 and 47.10.093, an adult family member                                  
27       [A PARENT] or legal guardian of a child subject to a proceeding under AS 47.10.005                                
28       - 47.10.142 may disclose confidential or privileged information about the child or the                            
29       child's family, including information that has been lawfully obtained from agency or                              
30       court files, to the governor, the lieutenant governor, a legislator, the ombudsman                                
31       appointed under AS 24.55, the attorney general, and the commissioner                                          
01       [COMMISSIONERS] of health and social services, administration, or public safety, or                               
02       an employee of these persons, for review or use in their official capacities.  The                                
03       department shall disclose additional confidential or privileged information and make                              
04       copies of documents available for inspection about the child or the child's family to                             
05       these state officials or employees for review or use in their official capacities upon                            
06       request of the official or employee and submission of satisfactory evidence that an                           
07       adult family member [A PARENT] or legal guardian of the child has requested the                               
08       state official's assistance in the case as part of the official's duties.  A person to whom                       
09       disclosure is made under this section may not disclose confidential or privileged                                 
10       information about the child or the child's family to a person not authorized to receive                           
11       it.                                                                                                               
12    * Sec. 5.  AS 47.10.092 is amended by adding new subsections to read:                                              
13            (d)  If, in response to a requirement of federal law or a request made by an                                 
14       official identified in (a) of this section, the department initiates an internal review or                        
15       evaluation of its activities under this chapter, notwithstanding AS 47.10.090 and                                 
16       47.10.093, the department shall either provide a copy of a report resulting from that                             
17       internal review or evaluation to the official or prepare a report of that internal review                         
18       and evaluation when requested to do so by an official identified in (a) of this section.                          
19       The report must contain a summary of the complaint, the review or evaluation process                              
20       used, and the outcome of the review or evaluation, including any recommendations                                  
21       made as a result of the review.  Before being disclosed, the department shall modify a                            
22       report prepared or produced under this subsection to exclude all personal identifying                             
23       information of a child, the child's family, and witnesses.                                                        
24            (e)  In this section, "adult family member" means a person who is 18 years of                                
25       age or older and who is related to the child as the child's biological or adoptive parent,                        
26       grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling.                                                                             
27    * Sec. 6.  AS 47.17.025 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                             
28            (c)  Within 20 days after receiving a report of harm, whether or not the matter                              
29       is referred to a local government agency, the department shall notify the person who                              
30       made the report of the status of the investigation, without disclosing any confidential                           
31       information.                                                                                                    
01    * Sec. 7.  AS 47.35.015 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                             
02            (j)  If a person operates a foster home to provide care only for a relative and the                          
03       department requires licensure under an agreement for services, the department shall                               
04       issue a temporary license to an eligible person while an application for a license under                          
05       this section is pending.  The department shall issue the temporary license to the                                 
06       applicant within five days after receiving a complete application for a foster care                               
07       license under AS 47.35.017.  A temporary license is valid for 90 days or until a license                          
08       is either issued under AS 47.35.017 or denied under AS 47.35.019, whichever is                                    
09       sooner.