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CSHB 151(HSS): "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 home 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                       CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 151(HSS)                                                                    
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 home licensing; relating to placement of a child in                            
04 need of aid; relating to the rights and responsibilities of foster parents; relating to                                 
05 subsidies for adoption or guardianship of a child in need of aid; requiring the                                         
06 Department of Health and Social Services to provide information to a child or person                                    
07 released from the 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 should be encouraged; [AND]                                                   
28 (F)  parents and guardians must actively participate in family                                                          
29 support services so as to facilitate the child's being able to remain in the home;                                      
30 when children are removed from the home, the parents and guardians must                                                 
31 actively participate in family support services to make return of their children                                        
01            to the home possible; and                                                                                
02                      (G)  to the extent practicable, the Department of Health and                                   
03            Social Services should enable a child's contact with previous out-of-home                                
04            caregivers when appropriate and in the best interests of the child;                                      
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. A supervisor at the department shall certify in writing in the case file                                
30 whether the department has searched for an appropriate placement with an                                            
31 adult family member or family friend. If the department has not complied with                                       
01 the search requirements under this subsection, the supervisor shall work to                                         
02       ensure that the department completes the search in the shortest time feasible.                                
03    * Sec. 5. AS 47.10.084 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                              
04 (d)  When the child is placed in foster care, the foster parent has the right and                                       
05 responsibility to use a reasonable and prudent parent standard to make decisions                                        
06 relating to the child. The foster parent may make decisions under (a) or (b) of this                                    
07 section that include decisions relating to the child's participation in age-appropriate or                              
08 developmentally appropriate activities, including travel, sports, field trips, overnight                                
09 activities, and extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities. The                                       
10 department shall provide foster parents with training regarding the reasonable and                                      
11 prudent parent standard. In this subsection, "reasonable and prudent parent standard"                                   
12 means a standard characterized by careful and sensible decisions to maintain the                                        
13 health, safety, and best interests of the child while encouraging the emotional and                                     
14       developmental growth of the child.                                                                                
15    * Sec. 6. AS 47.10.086 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                              
16 (h)  The department shall engage a child who is 14 years of age or older in the                                         
17 development or revision of a case plan, permanency goal, or alternative permanency                                      
18 plan for the child. The department shall also allow the child to select not more than                                   
19 two adults to participate in the development or revision of the plan in addition to the                                 
20 child's foster parents or department employees who are supervising the care of the                                      
21 child. The department may reject an adult selected by the child if the department has                                   
22 good cause to believe that the adult will not act in the best interests of the child. If the                            
23 department rejects an adult, the child may select another adult. The child may                                          
24 designate one of the adults to be the child's advisor, and the advisor may advocate for                                 
25       the child.                                                                                                        
26    * Sec. 7. AS 47.10.093(b) is amended to read:                                                                      
27 (b)  A state or municipal agency or employee shall disclose appropriate                                                 
28       confidential information regarding a case to                                                                      
29                 (1)  a guardian ad litem appointed by the court;                                                        
30 (2)  a person or an agency requested by the department or the child's                                                   
31 legal custodian to provide consultation or services for a child who is subject to the                                   
01       jurisdiction of the court under AS 47.10.010 as necessary to enable the provision of                              
02       the consultation or services;                                                                                     
03                 (3)  an out-of-home care provider as necessary to enable the out-of-                                    
04       home care provider to provide appropriate care to the child, to protect the safety of the                         
05       child, and to protect the safety and property of family members and visitors of the out-                          
06       of-home care provider;                                                                                            
07                 (4)  a school official as necessary to enable the school to provide                                     
08       appropriate counseling and support services to a child who is the subject of the case, to                         
09       protect the safety of the child, and to protect the safety of school students and staff;                          
10 (5)  a governmental agency as necessary to obtain that agency's                                                         
11 assistance for the department in its investigation or to obtain physical custody of a                                   
12       child;                                                                                                            
13 (6)  a law enforcement agency of this state or another jurisdiction as                                                  
14 necessary for the protection of any child or for actions by that agency to protect the                                  
15       public safety;                                                                                                    
16 (7)  a member of a multidisciplinary child protection team created                                                      
17       under AS 47.14.300 as necessary for the performance of the member's duties;                                       
18 (8)  the state medical examiner under AS 12.65 as necessary for the                                                     
19       performance of the duties of the state medical examiner;                                                          
20 (9)  a person who has made a report of harm as required by                                                              
21 AS 47.17.020 to inform the person that the investigation was completed and of action                                    
22       taken to protect the child who was the subject of the report;                                                     
23 (10)  the child support services agency established in AS 25.27.010 as                                                  
24 necessary to establish and collect child support for a child who is a child in need of aid                              
25       under this chapter;                                                                                               
26 (11)  a parent, guardian, or caregiver of a child or an entity responsible                                              
27       for ensuring the safety of children as necessary to protect the safety of a child;                                
28 (12)  a review panel established by the department for the purpose of                                                   
29       reviewing the actions taken by the department in a specific case;                                                 
30 (13)  the University of Alaska under the Alaska higher education                                                        
31 savings program for children established under AS 47.14.400, but only to the extent                                     
01 that the information is necessary to support the program and only if the information                                    
02       released is maintained as a confidential record by the University of Alaska;                                      
03 (14)  a child placement agency licensed under AS 47.32 as necessary to                                                  
04       provide services for a child who is the subject of the case; [AND]                                                
05 (15)  a state or municipal agency of this state or another jurisdiction                                                 
06 that is responsible for delinquent minors, as may be necessary for the administration of                                
07 services, protection, rehabilitation, or supervision of a child or for actions by the                                   
08 agency to protect the public safety; however, a court may review an objection made to                                   
09 a disclosure under this paragraph; the person objecting to the disclosure bears the                                     
10 burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that disclosure is not in the                                 
11       child's best interest; and                                                                                    
12 (16)  a sibling of a child who is the subject of the case to allow the                                              
13 siblings to contact each other if it is in the best interests of the child to maintain                              
14 contact; in this paragraph, "sibling" means an adult or minor who is related to                                     
15 the child who is the subject of the case by blood, adoption, or marriage as a child                                 
16 of one or both of the parents of the child who is the subject of the case; a sibling                                
17 who is adopted by a person other than the parent of the child who is the subject                                    
18       of the case remains a sibling of the child.                                                                   
19    * Sec. 8. AS 47.10.142(i) is amended to read:                                                                      
20 (i)  When the department takes emergency custody of a child under this section                                          
21 or a court orders a child committed to the department for temporary placement under                                     
22 this section, the department shall, to the extent feasible and consistent with the best                                 
23 interests of the child, place the child according to the criteria specified under                                       
24 AS 47.14.100(e). A supervisor at the department shall certify in writing in the                                     
25 case file whether the department has searched for an appropriate placement with                                     
26 an adult family member or family friend. If the department has not complied                                         
27 with the search requirements under this subsection, the supervisor shall work to                                    
28 ensure that the department completes the search in the shortest time feasible if it                                 
29       is consistent with the best interests of the child.                                                           
30    * Sec. 9. AS 47.14.100(d) is amended to read:                                                                      
31 (d)  In addition to money paid for the maintenance of foster children under (b)                                         
01       of this section, for a child who is under 21 years of age, the department                                     
02 (1)  shall pay the costs of caring for a foster child [CHILDREN] with a                                     
03 physical or mental disability [DISABILITIES], including the additional costs of                                     
04 medical care, habilitative and rehabilitative treatment, services and equipment, and                                    
05 special clothing, and the indirect costs of medical care, including child care and                                      
06       transportation expenses;                                                                                          
07                 (2)  may pay for respite care; in this paragraph, "respite care" means                                  
08       child care for the purpose of providing temporary relief from the stresses of caring for                          
09       a foster child; and                                                                                               
10 (3)  may pay a subsidized guardianship payment under AS 25.23.210                                                       
11 when a foster child's foster parents or other persons approved by the department                                        
12       become court-appointed legal guardians of the child.                                                              
13    * Sec. 10. AS 47.14.100(e) is amended to read:                                                                     
14 (e)  When a child is removed from a parent's home, the department shall                                                 
15 search for an appropriate placement with an adult family member or family                                           
16 friend. A supervisor at the department shall certify in writing in the case file                                    
17 whether the department has searched for an appropriate placement with an                                            
18 adult family member or family friend. If the department has not complied with                                       
19 the search requirements under this subsection, the supervisor shall work to                                         
20 ensure that the department completes the search in the shortest time feasible. The                                  
21 department shall place the child, in the absence of clear and convincing evidence of                                
22       good cause to the contrary,                                                                                       
23 (1)  in the least restrictive setting that most closely approximates a                                                  
24       family and that meets the child's special needs, if any;                                                          
25 (2)  within reasonable proximity to the child's home, taking into                                                       
26       account any special needs of the child and the preferences of the child or parent;                                
27                 (3)  with, in the following order of preference,                                                        
28                      (A)  an adult family member;                                                                       
29 (B)  a family friend who meets the foster care licensing                                                                
30            requirements established by the department;                                                                  
31 (C)  a licensed foster home that is not an adult family member                                                          
01            or family friend;                                                                                            
02                      (D)  an institution for children that has a program suitable to                                    
03            meet the child's needs.                                                                                      
04    * Sec. 11. AS 47.14.100(i) is amended to read:                                                                     
05 (i)  A child may not be placed with an out-of-home care provider if the                                                 
06 department determines that the child can remain safely at home with an adult family                                 
07 member [ONE PARENT] or guardian who lives with the child. In this subsection,                                   
08 "out-of-home care provider" means an agency or person, other than the child's legal                                     
09 parents, with whom a child who is in the custody of the state under                                                     
10 AS 47.10.080(c)(1) or (3), 47.10.142, or (c) of this section is currently placed; "agency                               
11 or person" includes a foster parent, a relative other than a parent, a person who has                                   
12       petitioned for adoption of the child, and a residential child care facility.                                      
13    * Sec. 12. AS 47.14.100(r) is amended to read:                                                                     
14 (r)  The department shall make reasonable efforts to place siblings in the same                                         
15 placement if the siblings are residing in the same home when taken into the custody of                                  
16 the department. If siblings are not placed together after reasonable efforts have been                                  
17 made, the case supervisor for the division with responsibility over the custody of                                      
18 children shall document in the file the efforts that were made and the reason separating                                
19 the siblings for placement purposes is in the best interest of the children. If it is in the                        
20 best interests of the children to maintain contact, the department shall provide                                    
21 each sibling with contact information for the other sibling and encourage the                                       
22 children's caregivers to provide opportunities for contact between the siblings. In                                 
23 this subsection, "sibling" means two or more persons who are related by blood,                                          
24       adoption, or marriage as a child of one or both parents.                                                          
25    * Sec. 13. AS 47.14 is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                    
26 Sec. 47.14.112. Training and workload standards; report to legislature. (a)                                           
27 The department shall implement workload standards and a training program for                                            
28 employees who supervise the care of children committed to the supervision or custody                                    
29 of the department under AS 47.10. Except as provided under (b) of this section, the                                     
30       department shall prepare a staffing report if the department is unable                                            
31 (1)  to employ the number of qualified employees necessary to ensure                                                    
01       that                                                                                                              
02                      (A)  the department reasonably and safely minimizes the time a                                     
03            child is not in a permanent living arrangement or under a permanent                                          
04            guardianship;                                                                                                
05                      (B)  a child is not removed from the child's home when it is                                       
06            possible and in the child's best interest for the department to work with the                                
07            child's family to prevent the removal of the child from the child's home;                                    
08                      (C)  each child is placed in a permanent home not more than 24                                     
09            months after the date the child is first removed from the child's home;                                      
10 (2)  to meet best practices standards set by the department requiring the                                               
11 employment of mentors for employees who supervise the care of children committed                                        
12       to the supervision or custody of the department under AS 47.10;                                                   
13 (3)  for a new employee who supervises the care of a child committed                                                    
14       to the supervision or custody of the department under AS 47.10, to                                                
15 (A)  provide a minimum of six weeks of training unless the                                                              
16 department finds that the new employee has sufficient experience to justify a                                           
17            shorter training period;                                                                                     
18                      (B)  limit the employee's workload as follows:                                                     
19 (i)  before the beginning of an employee's fourth month                                                                 
20 of work with the department, the employee may supervise not more                                                        
21                 than six families;                                                                                      
22 (ii)  after the beginning of the employee's fourth month                                                                
23 of work but before the end of the employee's sixth month of work with                                                   
24                 the department, the employee may supervise not more than 12 families;                                   
25 (iii)  when an employee supervises families in a region                                                                 
26 where travel distances negatively affect the employee's ability to                                                      
27 supervise families and the employee has worked for the department for                                                   
28 less than 12 months, the employee may not supervise the maximum                                                         
29                 number of families provided under (i) and (ii) of this subparagraph.                                    
30 (b)  If a staffing report is required under this section, the department shall                                          
31 explain in the staffing report why the department is not able to meet the standards, the                                
01       amount of funding that would be necessary to meet the standards, and the effects on a                             
02 child and the child's family of not meeting the standards. The department shall include                                 
03 the staffing report in the annual report to the legislature required under AS 18.05.020.                                
04 (c)  The department is not required to submit a staffing report under this                                              
05 section if the department is unable to maintain adequate staffing levels because                                        
06 qualified applicants are not available and the department is actively recruiting                                        
07       qualified applicants.                                                                                             
08    * Sec. 14. AS 47.14.115 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                             
09            (b)  If the department determines that it is in the best interests of a child in the                         
10 department's custody to place the child with an adult family member who does not                                        
11 have a foster care home license under AS 47.32, the department shall assist the adult                                   
12 family member in obtaining a license, including assisting the adult family member                                       
13 with obtaining any variances necessary to obtain the license, so that the family                                        
14       member is eligible for payments under AS 47.14.100(b) and (d).                                                    
15    * Sec. 15. AS 47.18.320 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                             
16 (d)  When an individual 16 years of age or older who has been in state custody                                          
17 under AS 47.10 for at least six months is released from state custody, the department                                   
18 shall, in addition to any training, services, and assistance provided under (a) - (c) of                                
19 this section, provide the individual with or assist the individual with obtaining the                                   
20       individual's                                                                                                      
21 (1)  birth certificate; the birth certificate may be an official or certified                                           
22       copy;                                                                                                             
23                 (2)  social security card;                                                                              
24                 (3)  health insurance information;                                                                      
25                 (4)  medical records;                                                                                   
26                 (5)  driver's license or identification card; and                                                       
27 (6)  certificate of degree of Indian or Alaska Native blood, if                                                         
28       applicable.                                                                                                       
29    * Sec. 16. AS 47.32.032 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                             
30 (c)  To the extent feasible, the department shall approve or deny a foster care                                         
31 home license, including a request for a variance under this section, not more than 45                                   
01 days after the date the department receives the application for a foster care home                                      
02 license. If it is not feasible to approve or deny a foster care home license not more than                              
03 45 days after receiving the application, a supervisory-level employee may authorize a                                   
04 longer period of time for the decision, but the period must be the shortest period                                      
05       feasible.                                                                                                         
06    * Sec. 17. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to                         
07 read:                                                                                                                   
08 APPLICABILITY. (a) Sections 3 - 8 and 10 - 16 of this Act apply to a child in the                                       
09 custody or under the supervision of the Department of Health and Social Services under                                  
10 AS 47.10 on or after the effective date of secs. 3 - 8 and 10 - 16 of this Act.                                         
11 (b)  Sections 2 and 9 of this Act apply to a person who is eligible for a subsidy or                                    
12 payment for the care of a child under AS 25.23.190 - 25.23.240 or AS 47.14.100 on or after                              
13 the effective date of secs. 2 and 9 of this Act, including a person who was ineligible for a                            
14 payment under AS 25.23.190 - 25.23.240 or AS 47.14.100 before the effective date of secs. 2                             
15 and 9 of this Act solely because the child turned 18.                                                                   
16    * Sec. 18. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to                         
17 read:                                                                                                                   
18 TRANSITION: REGULATIONS. The Department of Health and Social Services may                                               
19 adopt regulations necessary to implement the changes made by this Act. The regulations take                             
20 effect under AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act), but not before the effective date of the                          
21 law implemented by the regulation.                                                                                      
22    * Sec. 19. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to                         
23 read:                                                                                                                   
24 TRANSITION: IMPLEMENTATION OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND                                                                  
25 SOCIAL SERVICES STAFFING AND TRAINING STANDARDS. The Department of                                                      
26 Health and Social Services shall implement all of the provisions of this Act as expeditiously                           
27 as possible, and, not later than                                                                                        
28 (1)  one year after the effective date of sec. 13 of this Act, shall adopt training                                     
29 regulations necessary to meet the standards in AS 47.14.112(a)(3)(A), added by sec. 13 of this                          
30 Act;                                                                                                                    
31 (2) two years after the effective date of sec. 13 of this Act, hire the staff                                           
01 necessary to meet the workload standards in AS 47.12.112(a)(1), (2), and (3)(B), added by                               
02 sec. 13 of this Act;                                                                                                    
03            (3)  three years after the effective date of secs. 1 - 12 and 14 - 16 of this Act,                           
04 shall implement the changes made by secs. 1 - 12 and 14 - 16 of this Act.                                               
05    * Sec. 20. Section 18 of this Act takes effect immediately under AS 01.10.070(c).