HB 151: "An Act relating to the duties of the Department of Health and Social Services; relating to training and workload standards for employees of the Department of Health and Social Services; relating to foster care licensing; relating to placement of a child in need of aid; relating to the rights and responsibilities of foster parents; relating to subsidies for adoption or guardianship of a child in need of aid; requiring the Department of Health and Social Services to provide information to a child or person released from the department's custody; and providing for an effective date."
00 HOUSE BILL NO. 151 01 "An Act relating to the duties of the Department of Health and Social Services; relating 02 to training and workload standards for employees of the Department of Health and 03 Social Services; relating to foster care licensing; relating to placement of a child in need 04 of aid; relating to the rights and responsibilities of foster parents; relating to subsidies 05 for adoption or guardianship of a child in need of aid; requiring the Department of 06 Health and Social Services to provide information to a child or person released from the 07 department's custody; and providing for an effective date." 08 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 09 * Section 1. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section 10 to read: 11 SHORT TITLE. This Act may be known as the Children Deserve a Loving Home Act. 12 * Sec. 2. AS 25.23.210(b) is amended to read: 13 (b) A subsidy granted by the department under this section may be
01 (1) paid for a specified length of time not to extend after the child's 02 21st [18TH] birthday; and 03 (2) a deferred subsidy; in this paragraph, "deferred subsidy" means that 04 no monetary reimbursement is paid to a family but other benefits are paid for the 05 child. 06 * Sec. 3. AS 47.05.065 is amended to read: 07 Sec. 47.05.065. Legislative findings related to children. The legislature finds 08 that 09 (1) parents have the following rights and responsibilities relating to the 10 care and control of their child while the child is a minor: 11 (A) the responsibility to provide the child with food, clothing, 12 shelter, education, and medical care; 13 (B) the right and responsibility to protect, nurture, train, and 14 discipline the child, including the right to direct the child's medical care and 15 the right to exercise reasonable corporal discipline; 16 (C) the right to determine where and with whom the child shall 17 live; 18 (D) the right and responsibility to make decisions of legal or 19 financial significance concerning the child; 20 (E) the right to obtain representation for the child in legal 21 actions; and 22 (F) the responsibility to provide special safeguards and care, 23 including appropriate prenatal and postnatal protection for the child; 24 (2) it is the policy of the state to strengthen families and to protect 25 children from child abuse and neglect; the state recognizes that, in some cases, 26 protection of a child may require removal of the child from the child's home; however, 27 (A) except in those cases involving serious risk to a child's 28 health or safety, the Department of Health and Social Services should provide 29 time-limited family support services to the child and the child's family in order 30 to offer parents the opportunity to remedy parental conduct or conditions in the 31 home that placed the child at risk of harm so that a child may return home
01 safely and permanently; and 02 (B) the state also recognizes that when a child is removed from 03 the home, visitation between the child and the child's parents or guardian and 04 family members reduces the trauma for the child and enhances the likelihood 05 that the child will be able to return home; therefore, whenever a child is 06 removed from the parental home, the Department of Health and Social 07 Services should encourage frequent, regular, and reasonable visitation of the 08 child with the child's parent or guardian and family members; 09 (3) it is the policy of the state to recognize that, when a child is a ward 10 of the state, the child is entitled to reasonable safety, adequate care, and adequate 11 treatment and that the Department of Health and Social Services as legal custodian and 12 the child's guardian ad litem as guardian of the child's best interests and their agents 13 and assignees, each should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the child is provided 14 with reasonable safety, adequate care, and adequate treatment for the duration of time 15 that the child is a ward of the state; 16 (4) it is in the best interests of a child who has been removed from the 17 child's own home for the state to apply the following principles in resolving the 18 situation: 19 (A) the child should be placed in a safe, secure, and stable 20 environment; 21 (B) the child should not be moved unnecessarily; 22 (C) a planning process should be followed to lead to permanent 23 placement of the child; 24 (D) every effort should be made to encourage psychological 25 attachment between the adult caregiver and the child; 26 (E) frequent, regular, and reasonable visitation with the parent 27 or guardian and family members, and, if it is in the best interests of the 28 child, with previous out-of-home caregivers, for a child who has been 29 transferred from one out-of-home placement to another, should be 30 encouraged; and 31 (F) parents and guardians must actively participate in family
01 support services so as to facilitate the child's being able to remain in the home; 02 when children are removed from the home, the parents and guardians must 03 actively participate in family support services to make return of their children 04 to the home possible; 05 (5) numerous studies establish that 06 (A) children undergo a critical attachment process before the 07 time they reach six years of age; 08 (B) a child who has not attached with an adult caregiver during 09 this critical stage will suffer significant emotional damage that frequently leads 10 to chronic psychological problems and antisocial behavior when the child 11 reaches adolescence and adulthood; and 12 (C) it is important to provide for an expedited placement 13 procedure to ensure that all children, especially those under the age of six 14 years, who have been removed from their homes are placed in permanent 15 homes expeditiously. 16 * Sec. 4. AS 47.10.080(s) is amended to read: 17 (s) The department may transfer a child, in the child's best interests, from one 18 placement setting to another, and the child, the child's parents or guardian, the child's 19 foster parents or out-of-home caregiver, the child's guardian ad litem, the child's 20 attorney, and the child's tribe are entitled to advance notice of a nonemergency 21 transfer. A party opposed to the proposed transfer may request a hearing and must 22 prove by clear and convincing evidence that the transfer would be contrary to the best 23 interests of the child for the court to deny the transfer. A foster parent or out-of-home 24 caregiver who requests a nonemergency change in placement of the child shall provide 25 the department with reasonable advance notice of the requested change. When the 26 department transfers a child from one out-of-home placement to another, the 27 department shall search for an appropriate placement with an adult family member or 28 a family friend who meets the foster care licensing requirements established by the 29 department or is eligible for a waiver, variance, or exemption from the licensing 30 requirements under AS 47.32.030(a)(3) or 47.32.032. A supervisor at the 31 department shall certify in writing in the case file whether the department has
01 searched for an appropriate placement with an adult family member or family 02 friend. If the department has not completed the search, the supervisor shall work 03 to ensure that the department completes the search in the shortest time feasible. 04 * Sec. 5. AS 47.10.080 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 05 (z) When the department transfers a child from one placement setting to 06 another, the department shall require the out-of-home caregiver to encourage and 07 provide opportunities for the child to maintain contact with a previous out-of-home 08 caregiver if maintaining contact is in the best interests of the child. 09 * Sec. 6. AS 47.10.084 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 10 (d) When the child is placed in foster care, the foster parent has the right and 11 responsibility to use a reasonable and prudent parent standard to make decisions 12 relating to the child. In addition to other decisions delegated to the foster parent under 13 (a) or (b) of this section, the foster parent may make decisions relating to the 14 participation of the child in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities, 15 including travel, sports, field trips, overnight activities, and extracurricular, 16 enrichment, cultural, and social activities. The department shall provide foster parents 17 with training regarding the reasonable and prudent parent standard. In this subsection, 18 "reasonable and prudent parent standard" means a standard characterized by careful 19 and sensible decisions to maintain the health, safety, and best interests of the child 20 while encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child. 21 * Sec. 7. AS 47.10.086 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 22 (h) In developing or revising a case plan, permanency plan, or alternative 23 permanency plan for a child who is 14 years of age or older, the department shall 24 consult with the child. The department shall also allow the child to select not more 25 than two adults to participate in the development or revision of the plan. The adults 26 may not be the child's foster parents or department employees who are supervising the 27 care of the child. The department may reject an adult selected by the child if the 28 department has good cause to believe that the adult will not act in the best interests of 29 the child. If the department rejects an adult, the child may select another adult. The 30 child may designate one of the adults to be the child's advisor, and the advisor may 31 advocate for the child.
01 * Sec. 8. AS 47.10.088(i) is amended to read: 02 (i) The department shall concurrently identify, recruit, process, and approve a 03 qualified person or family for an adoption whenever a petition to terminate a parent's 04 rights to a child is filed. Before identifying a placement of the child in an adoptive 05 home, the department shall attempt to locate all living adult family members of the 06 child and, if an adult family member expresses an interest in adopting the child, 07 investigate the adult family member's ability to care for the child. The department 08 shall provide to all adult family members of the child located by the department 09 written notice of the adult family members' rights under this chapter and of the 10 procedures necessary to gain custody of the child, but the department's obligation to 11 provide written notice under this subsection does not apply to a parent of the child 12 whose parental rights are being or have been terminated or to an adult family member 13 who is known by the department to be ineligible for a foster care license under 14 AS 47.32 and regulations adopted under AS 47.32, unless the placement is in the 15 best interests of the child and the adult family member is eligible for a waiver, 16 variance, or exemption under AS 47.32.032. If an adult family member of the child 17 requests that the department approve the adult family member for an adoption, the 18 department shall approve the request unless there is good cause not to approve the 19 adoption. The department shall make a decision on the adult family member's 20 request not more than 45 days after the date the department receives the request. 21 If the court issues an order to terminate under (j) of this section, the department shall 22 report within 30 days on the efforts being made to recruit a permanent placement for 23 the child if a permanent placement was not approved at the time of the trial under (j) 24 of this section. The report must document recruitment efforts made for the child. 25 * Sec. 9. AS 47.10.093(b) is amended to read: 26 (b) A state or municipal agency or employee shall disclose appropriate 27 confidential information regarding a case to 28 (1) a guardian ad litem appointed by the court; 29 (2) a person or an agency requested by the department or the child's 30 legal custodian to provide consultation or services for a child who is subject to the 31 jurisdiction of the court under AS 47.10.010 as necessary to enable the provision of
01 the consultation or services; 02 (3) an out-of-home care provider as necessary to enable the out-of- 03 home care provider to provide appropriate care to the child, to protect the safety of the 04 child, and to protect the safety and property of family members and visitors of the out- 05 of-home care provider; 06 (4) a school official as necessary to enable the school to provide 07 appropriate counseling and support services to a child who is the subject of the case, to 08 protect the safety of the child, and to protect the safety of school students and staff; 09 (5) a governmental agency as necessary to obtain that agency's 10 assistance for the department in its investigation or to obtain physical custody of a 11 child; 12 (6) a law enforcement agency of this state or another jurisdiction as 13 necessary for the protection of any child or for actions by that agency to protect the 14 public safety; 15 (7) a member of a multidisciplinary child protection team created 16 under AS 47.14.300 as necessary for the performance of the member's duties; 17 (8) the state medical examiner under AS 12.65 as necessary for the 18 performance of the duties of the state medical examiner; 19 (9) a person who has made a report of harm as required by 20 AS 47.17.020 to inform the person that the investigation was completed and of action 21 taken to protect the child who was the subject of the report; 22 (10) the child support services agency established in AS 25.27.010 as 23 necessary to establish and collect child support for a child who is a child in need of aid 24 under this chapter; 25 (11) a parent, guardian, or caregiver of a child or an entity responsible 26 for ensuring the safety of children as necessary to protect the safety of a child; 27 (12) a review panel established by the department for the purpose of 28 reviewing the actions taken by the department in a specific case; 29 (13) the University of Alaska under the Alaska higher education 30 savings program for children established under AS 47.14.400, but only to the extent 31 that the information is necessary to support the program and only if the information
01 released is maintained as a confidential record by the University of Alaska; 02 (14) a child placement agency licensed under AS 47.32 as necessary to 03 provide services for a child who is the subject of the case; [AND] 04 (15) a state or municipal agency of this state or another jurisdiction 05 that is responsible for delinquent minors, as may be necessary for the administration of 06 services, protection, rehabilitation, or supervision of a child or for actions by the 07 agency to protect the public safety; however, a court may review an objection made to 08 a disclosure under this paragraph; the person objecting to the disclosure bears the 09 burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that disclosure is not in the 10 child's best interest; and 11 (16) a sibling of a child who is the subject of the case to allow the 12 siblings to contact each other if it is in the best interests of the child to maintain 13 contact; in this paragraph, "sibling" means an adult or minor who is related to 14 the child who is the subject of the case by blood, adoption, or marriage as a child 15 of one or both of the parents of the child who is the subject of the case; a sibling 16 who is adopted by a person other than the parent of the child who is the subject 17 of the case remains a sibling of the child. 18 * Sec. 10. AS 47.10.142(i) is amended to read: 19 (i) When the department takes emergency custody of a child under this section 20 or a court orders a child committed to the department for temporary placement under 21 this section, the department shall, to the extent feasible and consistent with the best 22 interests of the child, place the child according to the criteria specified under 23 AS 47.14.100(e). A supervisor at the department shall certify in writing in the 24 case file whether the department has searched for an appropriate placement with 25 an adult family member or family friend. If the department has not completed 26 the search, the supervisor shall work to ensure that the department completes the 27 search in the shortest time feasible if it is consistent with the best interests of the 28 child. 29 * Sec. 11. AS 47.14.100(b) is amended to read: 30 (b) The department may pay the costs of maintenance that are necessary to 31 ensure [ASSURE] adequate care of the child, if the child is under 21 years of age,
01 and may accept funds from the federal government that are granted to assist in 02 carrying out the purposes of this chapter, or that are paid under contract entered into 03 with a federal department or agency. A child under the care of the department may not 04 be placed in a family home or institution that does not maintain adequate standards of 05 care. 06 * Sec. 12. AS 47.14.100(d) is amended to read: 07 (d) In addition to money paid for the maintenance of foster children under (b) 08 of this section, for a child who is under 21 years of age, the department 09 (1) shall pay the costs of caring for a foster child [CHILDREN] with a 10 physical or mental disability [DISABILITIES], including the additional costs of 11 medical care, habilitative and rehabilitative treatment, services and equipment, and 12 special clothing, and the indirect costs of medical care, including child care and 13 transportation expenses; 14 (2) may pay for respite care; in this paragraph, "respite care" means 15 child care for the purpose of providing temporary relief from the stresses of caring for 16 a foster child; and 17 (3) may pay a subsidized guardianship payment under AS 25.23.210 18 when a foster child's foster parents or other persons approved by the department 19 become court-appointed legal guardians of the child. 20 * Sec. 13. AS 47.14.100(e) is amended to read: 21 (e) When a child is removed from a parent's home, the department shall 22 search for an appropriate placement with an adult family member or family 23 friend. A supervisor at the department shall certify in writing in the case file 24 whether the department has searched for an appropriate placement with an 25 adult family member or family friend. If the department has not completed the 26 search, the supervisor shall work to ensure that the department completes the 27 search in the shortest time feasible. The department shall place the child, in the 28 absence of clear and convincing evidence of good cause to the contrary, 29 (1) in the least restrictive setting that most closely approximates a 30 family and that meets the child's special needs, if any; 31 (2) within reasonable proximity to the child's home, taking into
01 account any special needs of the child and the preferences of the child or parent; 02 (3) with, in the following order of preference, 03 (A) an adult family member; 04 (B) a family friend who meets the foster care licensing 05 requirements established by the department; 06 (C) a licensed foster home that is not an adult family member 07 or family friend; 08 (D) an institution for children that has a program suitable to 09 meet the child's needs. 10 * Sec. 14. AS 47.14.100(i) is amended to read: 11 (i) A child may not be placed with an out-of-home care provider if the 12 department determines that the child can remain safely at home with an adult family 13 member [ONE PARENT] or guardian who lives with the child. In this subsection, 14 "out-of-home care provider" means an agency or person, other than the child's legal 15 parents, with whom a child who is in the custody of the state under 16 AS 47.10.080(c)(1) or (3), 47.10.142, or (c) of this section is currently placed; "agency 17 or person" includes a foster parent, a relative other than a parent, a person who has 18 petitioned for adoption of the child, and a residential child care facility. 19 * Sec. 15. AS 47.14.100(m) is amended to read: 20 (m) If it is in a child's best interests [PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF 21 GOOD CAUSE NOT] to place the [A] child with an adult family member or family 22 friend under AS 47.10.088(i) or under (e) of this section, but the adult family 23 member or family friend fails [INCLUDES THE FAILURE] to meet the 24 requirements for a foster care license under AS 47.32 and regulations adopted under 25 AS 47.32, the department shall grant [TAKING INTO ACCOUNT] a waiver, 26 variance, or exemption allowed under AS 47.32.030(a)(3) and 47.32.032. Prima facie 27 evidence of good cause not to place a child with an adult family member or adult 28 family friend does not include poverty or inadequate or crowded housing. The 29 department shall make a decision on an adult family member's or family friend's 30 request for placement not more than 45 days after the date the department 31 receives the request for placement. If the department denies a request for placement
01 with an adult family member or a family friend, the department shall inform the adult 02 family member or family friend of the basis for the denial and the right to request a 03 hearing to review the decision. A non-party adult family member or family friend 04 requesting a review hearing under AS 47.10.088(i) or under (e) of this section is not 05 eligible for publicly appointed legal counsel. 06 * Sec. 16. AS 47.14.100(r) is amended to read: 07 (r) The department shall make reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same 08 placement if the siblings are residing in the same home when taken into the custody of 09 the department. If siblings are not placed together after reasonable efforts have been 10 made, the case supervisor for the division with responsibility over the custody of 11 children shall document in the file the efforts that were made and the reason separating 12 the siblings for placement purposes is in the best interest of the children. The 13 department shall provide each sibling with contact information for the other 14 sibling and require the children's caregivers to encourage and provide 15 opportunities for contact between the siblings if it is in the best interests of the 16 children to maintain contact. In this subsection, "sibling" means two or more 17 persons who are related by blood, adoption, or marriage as a child of one or both 18 parents. 19 * Sec. 17. AS 47.14 is amended by adding a new section to read: 20 Sec. 47.14.112. Training and workload standards; report to legislature. (a) 21 The department shall implement workload standards and a training program for 22 employees who supervise the care of children committed to the supervision or custody 23 of the department under AS 47.10. Except as provided under (b) of this section, the 24 department shall prepare a staffing report if the department is unable 25 (1) to employ the number of qualified employees necessary to ensure 26 that 27 (A) the department reasonably and safely minimizes the time a 28 child is not in a permanent living arrangement or under a permanent 29 guardianship; 30 (B) a child is not removed from the child's home when it is 31 possible and in the child's best interest for the department to work with the
01 child's family to prevent the removal of the child from the child's home; 02 (C) each child is placed in a permanent home not more than 24 03 months after the date the child is first removed from the child's home; 04 (2) to meet best practices standards set by the department requiring the 05 employment of mentors for employees who supervise the care of children committed 06 to the supervision or custody of the department under AS 47.10; 07 (3) for a new employee who supervises the care of a child committed 08 to the supervision or custody of the department under AS 47.10, to 09 (A) provide a minimum of six weeks of training unless the 10 department finds that the new employee has sufficient experience to justify a 11 shorter training period; 12 (B) limit the employee's workload as follows: 13 (i) before the beginning of an employee's fourth month 14 of work with the department, the employee may supervise not more 15 than six families; 16 (ii) after the beginning of the employee's fourth month 17 of work but before the end of the employee's twelfth month of work 18 with the department, the employee may supervise not more than 12 19 families; 20 (iii) when an employee supervises families in a region 21 where travel distances negatively affect the employee's ability to 22 supervise families and the employee has worked for the department for 23 less than 12 months, the employee may not supervise the maximum 24 number of families provided under (i) and (ii) of this subparagraph. 25 (b) If a staffing report is required under this section, the department shall 26 explain in the staffing report why the department is not able to meet the standards, the 27 amount of funding that would be necessary to meet the standards, and the effects on a 28 child and the child's family of not meeting the standards. The department shall include 29 the staffing report in the annual report to the legislature required under AS 18.05.020. 30 (c) The department is not required to submit a staffing report under this 31 section if the department is unable to maintain adequate staffing levels because
01 qualified applicants are not available and the department is actively recruiting 02 qualified applicants. 03 * Sec. 18. AS 47.14.115 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 04 (b) If the department determines that it is in the best interests of a child in the 05 department's custody to place the child with an adult family member who does not 06 have a foster care home license under AS 47.32, the department shall assist the adult 07 family member in obtaining a license, including assisting the adult family member 08 with obtaining any waivers, variances, or exemptions necessary to obtain the license, 09 so that the family member is eligible for payments under AS 47.14.100(b) and (d). 10 * Sec. 19. AS 47.18.320 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 11 (d) When an individual who has been in state custody under AS 47.10 for at 12 least six months is released from state custody, the department shall, in addition to any 13 training, services, and assistance provided under (a) - (c) of this section, provide the 14 individual with the individual's 15 (1) birth certificate; the birth certificate may be an official or certified 16 copy; 17 (2) social security card; 18 (3) health insurance information; 19 (4) medical records; 20 (5) driver's license or identification card; if the individual has not 21 obtained a driver's license or identification card, the department shall assist the 22 individual in obtaining one. 23 * Sec. 20. AS 47.32.032(a) is amended to read: 24 (a) The department shall streamline the application and licensing paperwork 25 necessary for a person to be approved as a foster parent or relative placement to the 26 extent consistent with federal law. In addition, if the department determines that 27 placing the child with an adult family member is in the best interests of the child, 28 the department shall grant, as necessary to allow the placement, a waiver, 29 variance, or exemption from the requirements of this chapter under 30 AS 47.32.030(a)(3)(D) or a variance from building code requirements under (b) 31 of this section.
01 * Sec. 21. AS 47.32.032 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: 02 (c) To the extent feasible, the department shall approve or deny a foster care 03 home license, including a request for a waiver, variance, or exemption, not more than 04 45 days after the date the department receives the application for a foster care home 05 license. If it is not feasible to approve or deny a foster care home license not more than 06 45 days after receiving the application, a supervisory-level employee may authorize a 07 longer period of time for the decision, but the period must be the shortest period 08 feasible. 09 * Sec. 22. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to 10 read: 11 APPLICABILITY. (a) Sections 3 - 10 and 13 - 21 of this Act apply to a child in the 12 custody or under the supervision of the Department of Health and Social Services under 13 AS 47.10 on or after the effective date of secs. 3 - 10 and 13 - 21 of this Act. 14 (b) Sections 2, 11, and 12 of this Act apply to a person who is eligible for a subsidy or 15 payment for the care of a child under AS 25.23.190 - 25.23.240 or AS 47.14.100 on or after 16 the effective date of secs. 2, 11, and 12 of this Act, including a person who was ineligible for 17 a payment under AS 25.23.190 - 25.23.240 or AS 47.14.100 before the effective date of secs. 18 2, 11, and 12 of this Act solely because the child turned 18. 19 * Sec. 23. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to 20 read: 21 TRANSITION: REGULATIONS. The Department of Health and Social Services may 22 adopt regulations necessary to implement the changes made by this Act. The regulations take 23 effect under AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act), but not before the effective date of the 24 law implemented by the regulation. 25 * Sec. 24. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to 26 read: 27 TRANSITION: IMPLEMENTATION OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND 28 SOCIAL SERVICES STAFFING AND TRAINING STANDARDS. The Department of 29 Health and Social Services shall implement all of the provisions of this Act as expeditiously 30 as possible, and, not later than 31 (1) one year after the effective date of sec. 17 of this Act, shall adopt training
01 regulations and hire staff necessary to meet the standards in AS 47.14.112, added by sec. 17 02 of this Act; 03 (2) three years after the effective date of secs. 1 - 16 and 18 - 21 of this Act, 04 shall implement the changes made by secs. 1 - 16 and 18 - 21 of this Act. 05 * Sec. 25. Section 23 of this Act takes effect immediately under AS 01.10.070(c).