Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/12/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 30 Minutes Following Session --
+ HB 166 MUSEUM CONSTRUCTION GRANT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 151 DHSS;CINA; FOSTER CARE; CHILD PROTECTION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 144 EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ SB 51 EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
<Pending Referral>
+ HB 103 OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
txt
HOUSE BILL NO. 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."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Foster  youth in  Alaska are  not  getting the  chances                                                                    
     they deserve.  The Children Deserve  a Loving  Home Act                                                                    
     aims to increase the likelihood  that foster youth will                                                                    
     have the  same opportunities  in life, and  same health                                                                    
     and  well-being, as  their peers.  When roughly  40% of                                                                    
     our  foster youth  end  up homeless  at  some point  in                                                                    
     their lives after leaving care,  and roughly 20% end up                                                                    
     in jail, it's  a call for reform.  The nation's leading                                                                    
     foster care non-profit, Casey  Family Programs, has the                                                                    
     correct goal to reduce  the number of youth languishing                                                                    
     in foster care by 50%  by 2020. Alaska should join that                                                                    
     effort. We  should achieve it  not by leaving  youth in                                                                    
     neglect  and  abuse to  keep  our  foster care  numbers                                                                    
     down, but by getting neglected  and abused youth out of                                                                    
     the foster care system,  into a permanent, loving home,                                                                    
     much more quickly than we do now.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Many Alaskans  recognize that our child  welfare system                                                                    
     has  room to  improve;  this bill  seeks  to make  real                                                                    
     positive changes  that support  youth and  families, as                                                                    
     well as the caseworkers who  serve them. It's been well                                                                    
     documented by  many sources that when  case workers are                                                                    
     overworked, outcomes for  children and families suffer.                                                                    
     The  Office  of  Children's Services  (OCS)  recommends                                                                    
     standards  of approximately  12 cases  or families  per                                                                    
     worker  -  but  today, most  caseworkers  are  carrying                                                                    
     caseloads that  vastly exceed that  amount (as  high as                                                                    
     43 families in Wasilla, 36 in  Homer, and 30 or more in                                                                    
     six  of the  state's main  OCS offices).  Conditions in                                                                    
     rural  Alaska,  especially  the  challenges  of  remote                                                                    
     travel,  make even  a  12-family caseload  overwhelming                                                                    
     for workers in such regions.  Beyond the risk of poorer                                                                    
     outcomes,  high  caseloads  contribute to  high  worker                                                                    
     turnover,  a costly  problem  that  slows timelines  to                                                                    
     permanency.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This  bill seeks  to improve  both caseload  levels and                                                                    
     worker  retention   by  implementing   significant  new                                                                    
     training  and workforce  standards.  New workers  would                                                                    
     receive a  minimum of six  weeks of training  and would                                                                    
     carry  no more  than  six cases/families  in the  first                                                                    
     three months, and 12 families  in the first six months.                                                                    
     These  standards are  recognized  to improve  outcomes,                                                                    
     enable  faster  timelines   to  permanency,  and  allow                                                                    
     caseworkers to perform their duties as intended.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     In addition, this  bill provides for a  number of other                                                                    
     changes  to support  the well-being  of youth  in care,                                                                    
     and   to  promote   quicker   timelines  for   children                                                                    
     returning  to, or  finding  new,  permanent homes.  The                                                                    
     bill extends subsidies  for adoptions and guardianships                                                                    
     to age  21, to incentivize  permanency and  the closing                                                                    
     of cases,  and promotes contact with  siblings and with                                                                    
     previous  out-of-home caregivers  to promote  the well-                                                                    
     being  of children  and maintain  a network  of support                                                                    
     for  them.  Another important  tenet  of  this bill  is                                                                    
     enacting   timelines    for   waivers    to   licensing                                                                    
     requirements for relatives  who may want to  care for a                                                                    
     child, but are not licensed foster parents.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The  bill also  makes it  easier for  youth and  foster                                                                    
     parents  to  engage  in normal  day-to-day  activities,                                                                    
     such  as going  on  vacation  without prior  caseworker                                                                    
     approval, with  fewer requirements. In  addition, youth                                                                    
     at age  14 are empowered  to participate in  their case                                                                    
     plan.  This bill  also strengthens  the requirement  to                                                                    
     search  for  relatives  before  placing  a  child  with                                                                    
     foster  parents,   recognizing  that   placements  with                                                                    
     family are  often the best  and most loving  option for                                                                    
     youth.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Providing support, and a voice,  for youth and families                                                                    
     who need our help is  perhaps one of our most important                                                                    
     duties  in  public service.  This  bill  seeks to  give                                                                    
     caseworkers  the tools  they  need to  carry out  their                                                                    
     duties to the best of  their abilities, and it seeks to                                                                    
     support  youth   and  families  with   provisions  that                                                                    
     support  well-being, make  it  easier  for children  to                                                                    
     move out of  the system and into a  permanent home more                                                                    
     quickly,  and provide  the  necessary  resources for  a                                                                    
     system that  can function well.  This bill  is intended                                                                    
     to  create an  environment where  loving homes  are the                                                                    
     priority for all youth.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Seaton   MOVED   to  ADOPT   proposed   committee                                                                    
substitute  for  HB  151, Work  Draft  30-LS0451\I  (Glover,                                                                    
4/17/17).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LES GARA,  SPONSOR, DISTRICT  20, introduced                                                                    
himself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LAURA CHARTIER,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE GARA, would  walk the                                                                    
committee through  the newest version  of the  bill, version                                                                    
I.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:33:52 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:36:18 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[Co-Chair   Foster  passed   the  gavel   to  Representative                                                                    
Guttenberg]                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  indicated his staff would  walk through                                                                    
the committee substitute changes to the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chartier proceeded to explain  that Section 1 provided a                                                                    
short title. Section  2 reflected the main  change made from                                                                    
the previous committee substitute  (CS) version. The section                                                                    
provided  for funding  for adoptions  and guardianships  for                                                                    
older  youth. In  the previous  version of  the bill  it was                                                                    
written  in such  a way  that  all youth  who were  adopted,                                                                    
regardless  of  the  age  which  they  were  adopted,  would                                                                    
receive subsidies for adoptions  and guardianships up to age                                                                    
21.  The current  draft specifies  that  those adoption  and                                                                    
guardianship subsidies  would only apply only  to youth ages                                                                    
18  to  21.  They  were  limiting  it  to  the  older  youth                                                                    
population,  which  was the  original  intent  of the  bill.                                                                    
Also,  the word  "subsidy"  was replaced  with "stipend"  to                                                                    
differentiate   from  any   federal   language  or   federal                                                                    
programs. She  reiterated the  most significant  change from                                                                    
the  previous  version  of  the   bill  was  limiting  those                                                                    
adoption and guardianship subsidies  to older youth, ages 18                                                                    
through 21.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  if   she  was  talking  about                                                                    
children  who did  not get  adopted until  they were  18. In                                                                    
other words,  if they were to  get adopted at 18  they would                                                                    
have the subsidy from 18  to 21 years of age. Representative                                                                    
Gara responded  that the language  would likely  remove this                                                                    
portion of the bill. Currently,  the state would pay a daily                                                                    
rate if a  person adopted or was a guardian  for a youth but                                                                    
only until age 18. The problem  was that there was youth who                                                                    
were 18, 19,  and 20 who did not have  a permanent home. The                                                                    
goal  was  to  extend  the subsidies  to  age  21.  However,                                                                    
federal law prohibited  states from doing that  for just 18,                                                                    
19, and 20-year-old  youths. If a person was  adopted at age                                                                    
1  they would  receive the  subsidy through  age 21  even if                                                                    
they did  not need the  incentive. It became a  $7.4 million                                                                    
fiscal note,  something the state  could not afford.  It was                                                                    
not the  priority piece  of the  legislation. Instead,  as a                                                                    
work around, he suggested coming  up with a state program in                                                                    
which federal  law would not be  used for youth 18,  19, and                                                                    
20. However,  it created a  perverse incentive so that  if a                                                                    
person was  thinking about adopting  a child at age  16 they                                                                    
might wait until  age 18 to get 3 years  of subsidies. There                                                                    
was no  way to make the  provision work and would  likely be                                                                    
removed.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chartier  continued to Section 3  which enabled contacts                                                                    
with  previous  out-of-home  caregivers. She  relayed  there                                                                    
were  2 pieces  of  the bill  that  encouraged contact  with                                                                    
people who might  be close to a youth in  their life and one                                                                    
of them  was a  previous out-of-home  care giver.  Section 4                                                                    
required  that a  supervisor had  to certify  in writing  at                                                                    
different times  in the  foster care  process that  a search                                                                    
for relatives  had been carried  out. She relayed  that what                                                                    
was  being added  was that  a supervisor  had to  certify in                                                                    
writing  at different  points in  the foster  care placement                                                                    
process that  a search for  relatives had been  carried out.                                                                    
In other words,  a supervisor would literally  sign off that                                                                    
such a  search had been carried  out. Section 5 of  the bill                                                                    
included  language  on  what was  called  a  prudent  parent                                                                    
standard.  It was  language  to make  it  easier for  foster                                                                    
parents  to make  day-to-day decisions  involving a  child's                                                                    
activities. Section  6 engaged youth  who were 14  and older                                                                    
in  their  case  planning process,  something  adopted  from                                                                    
federal language like the prudent parent standard.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:40:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  was  not  aware of  case  plans  for                                                                    
adults. She wondered if there  was a case plan for children.                                                                    
Representative Gara responded in  the negative. He explained                                                                    
that youths 14 or older did  not have the right to designate                                                                    
certain  people to  be part  of their  case planning.  Youth                                                                    
over 14  years old would be  able to nominate up  to 2 extra                                                                    
people important to  them to be part of  their case planning                                                                    
team.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  asked if it  was a different  type of                                                                    
plan than  that of  their parents.  She agreed  youth should                                                                    
have  a say  on where  they were  going. She  was trying  to                                                                    
figure  out  if   there  were  two  kinds   of  case  plans.                                                                    
Representative  Gara indicated  it  was a  hybrid case.  The                                                                    
case would  involve both the  interest of the child  and the                                                                    
parents. He believed the child had  a right to have a say in                                                                    
their future.  In Section 6  it stated  that a youth  age 14                                                                    
and older should be able to  have a say in those involved in                                                                    
their case  plan. The change would  allow for up to  2 other                                                                    
people to be included in the case planning process.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson expressed  confusion. She relayed that                                                                    
she was only  familiar with the way the case  plans were run                                                                    
where  a parent  had  to  attend a  parenting  class, get  a                                                                    
psychological   evaluation,   and  follow   an   evaluation.                                                                    
Hopefully,  if a  parent followed  the plan,  they would  be                                                                    
reunified   with  their   child.  If   they  chose   not  to                                                                    
participate, it could result in  adoption. She was trying to                                                                    
better  understand  the section.  She  wondered  if a  child                                                                    
would  be  able   to  request  where  they   wanted  to  go.                                                                    
Representative Gara responded  affirmatively. He stated that                                                                    
the early  case plan that had  to be filed within  the first                                                                    
60 days  was to  figure out  if the child  would be  able to                                                                    
return to their  parents and what the parents  would have to                                                                    
do to get  their child back. After the first  60 days, there                                                                    
was still a case plan for  a child. The Office of Children's                                                                    
Services  (OCS) could  provide  more  information about  the                                                                    
later stages of the case plan.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson agreed with  the concept. She just was                                                                    
trying  to figure  out  the  mechanics. Representative  Gara                                                                    
responded that  it was  the same case  plan. He  was hopeful                                                                    
that the result would be reunification early on.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:45:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Thompson  mentioned   that  earlier  in  the                                                                    
conversation the bill  sponsor referred to a  child over 14.                                                                    
He heard  the representative clarify  that it applied  to 14                                                                    
years or older.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Chartier continued with Section  7. The section included                                                                    
the  language  to  promote   contact  between  siblings.  It                                                                    
allowed for  OCS to share  contact information  for siblings                                                                    
if it  was in  the best interest  of both  parties involved.                                                                    
Section 8  and 9 had  a provision requiring  a certification                                                                    
that  a  search  for  relatives had  been  carried  out.  It                                                                    
changed throughout  the statute. In  Section 10 there  was a                                                                    
minor  change to  statutory language  replacing the  phrase,                                                                    
"One parent" with "Adult family  member." She continued with                                                                    
Section  11  was  another   mention  about  sibling  contact                                                                    
provisions. The  main change in  the bill could be  found in                                                                    
Section 12.  The change reflected the  implementation of new                                                                    
training  and workload  standards  for staff.  She was  sure                                                                    
Representative Gara  would discuss  the information  in more                                                                    
detail. Essentially,  it extended  training for  new workers                                                                    
up to 6 weeks and  lowered their caseloads. Workers in their                                                                    
first 3 months would have 6  cases. Workers in their first 6                                                                    
months would have  a caseload of 12. There was  a very minor                                                                    
language change to the section  from the previous version of                                                                    
the bill.  She referred to page  10 at the top  of the page.                                                                    
It clarified  the staff that  was covered by the  section of                                                                    
the bill.  It was  a small  change to  the language  to make                                                                    
sure all the  staff would be covered under  the training and                                                                    
workload  standards.  She  continued   to  Section  13  that                                                                    
encouraged   assistance   with  family   members   obtaining                                                                    
variances  to  foster care  licensing.  If  an adult  family                                                                    
member did  not necessarily want  to go through  the typical                                                                    
licensing process  they could obtain a  variance. Section 14                                                                    
outlined  that youth  leaving care  would  be provided  with                                                                    
official documents or receive  assistance in obtaining their                                                                    
official documents.  The bill contained  a list  of specific                                                                    
documents  that  were  covered.  Section  15  implemented  a                                                                    
timeline  for  decisions  to be  made  on  applications  for                                                                    
foster  care   home  licensing  or  on   variances  to  that                                                                    
licensing. They  were not changing  the process  of applying                                                                    
but adding a  timeline for a decision to be  made either way                                                                    
within  45   days.  Section  16   and  17  related   to  the                                                                    
applicability of the  act. In the final  section, Section 18                                                                    
on  the timeline.  In version  N  of the  bill the  training                                                                    
standards were  to be implemented  in the first year  and in                                                                    
year  2 there  would  be  enough staffing  to  meet the  new                                                                    
caseload  standard. Version  I  pushed out  the staffing  to                                                                    
year 3. The  department would have 3 full years  to meet the                                                                    
staffing  requirement. There  were  a  couple of  additional                                                                    
provisions  to  be  implemented  in  year  1  including  the                                                                    
involvement  of children  14 years  old and  older in  their                                                                    
case planning  and the  prudent parent  standard as  well as                                                                    
the certification of relative searches.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair Guttenberg referred to  Section 13. He asked                                                                    
Representative Gara  to speak to  assisting a  family member                                                                    
and attaining a license or any variances.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:50:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  replied  that  it  was  a  complicated                                                                    
process. Sometimes there was a  family that was not a foster                                                                    
parent.  He explained  that  there were  2  types of  foster                                                                    
parents  - relatives  and out-of-home  caregivers. Relatives                                                                    
did not need  a license. There was a category  of people who                                                                    
might  not receive  the daily  reimbursement rate.  In rural                                                                    
areas,   especially  in   areas  where   there  was   little                                                                    
caseworker contact, the application  process was complex. He                                                                    
hoped the bill  would fix the caseworker  contact issue. The                                                                    
provision  stated that  an out-of-home  caregiver should  be                                                                    
helped in the application process.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   asked  whether  Section   13  would                                                                    
require  family  members to  be  certified  or whether  they                                                                    
would be  able to get help  if they wanted to  be certified.                                                                    
She    thought    Representative   Gara    was    responding                                                                    
affirmatively,  as  his  head   was  nodding  up  and  down.                                                                    
[Representative Gara  nodded his head]. She  also asked what                                                                    
would  prevent  a family  member  from  getting any  funding                                                                    
without  being certified.  Representative  Gara deferred  to                                                                    
OCS for the answer.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair Guttenberg  asked if there were  other items                                                                    
Representative Gara  wanted to discuss.  Representative Gara                                                                    
responded  that he  had reviewed  all the  changes from  the                                                                    
version  that   passed  the   Health  and   Social  Services                                                                    
Committee to  the CS.  It would  be up  to the  committee to                                                                    
adopt the CS, then he could explain the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson WITHDREW her OBJECTION.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being NO OBJECTION, the CS for HB 151 was ADOPTED.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt commented  that obviously  Health and                                                                    
Social Services (HSS)  had reviewed the bill,  yet there was                                                                    
a  CS. He  wondered why  some of  the changes  had not  been                                                                    
identified in the  subcommittee process. Representative Gara                                                                    
conveyed that the bill was his  bill rather than a HSS bill.                                                                    
However,  he  had worked  with  the  department as  much  as                                                                    
possible. The  largest change was  that there was  a handful                                                                    
of youth, ages 18, 19, and 20  who he wanted to see get into                                                                    
an  adoptive  home  or into  a  permanent  guardianship.  He                                                                    
thought it would  be great to be able to  offer a subsidy to                                                                    
families  that could  not  afford to  take  children in.  He                                                                    
reported not  being able to  find a workable  and affordable                                                                    
way  to do  so.  The big  change  came when  he  saw the  $8                                                                    
million fiscal  note. He realized that  by covering 18-year-                                                                    
old children, the  state would have to  cover 1-year-old, 2-                                                                    
year-old,  and 3-year-old  children as  well which  would be                                                                    
too costly.  He was unable to  find an affordable way  to do                                                                    
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  confirmed that because of  the fiscal                                                                    
note  and  the  bill  being   heard  in  the  House  Finance                                                                    
Committee, the section was pulled  out along with the fiscal                                                                    
note. Representative Gara relayed  that the fiscal note came                                                                    
out late  in the  HSS committee  process. He  indicated that                                                                    
when he  saw it he  promised the  committee he would  fix or                                                                    
get rid of it.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:54:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair  Guttenberg OPENED  Public Testimony  for HB                                                                    
151.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara indicated  Ms.  Metivier  and Ms.  Rein                                                                    
were online and could provide  expert testimony. He asked if                                                                    
they could elaborate on the bill.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:55:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROSALIE REIN,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  was a                                                                    
licensed  social  worker on  the  front  lines of  OCS.  She                                                                    
highlighted 2  components of HB  151 that  were particularly                                                                    
helpful in  improving relationships between workers  and the                                                                    
families they  served: training and caseloads.  She reported                                                                    
that caseloads  were directly  tied to  the worker  being in                                                                    
contact with the  children and families on  a regular basis.                                                                    
She  had heard  over  5  hours of  testimony  at a  townhall                                                                    
meeting held in  Fairbanks. One of the  main concerns raised                                                                    
by parents was  a lack of communication  with their workers.                                                                    
She  could not  adequately express  the responsibilities  of                                                                    
caseworkers. There  were not enough  hours in a day  to keep                                                                    
good communication with invested  parties. Many workers used                                                                    
nights  and weekends  to respond  to the  most urgent  phone                                                                    
calls yet  did not have time  to do high level  social work.                                                                    
She  explained  that  high  level  social  work  encompassed                                                                    
fostering  connections between  siblings  in separate  homes                                                                    
and diligent relative searches.  She spoke to the advantages                                                                    
of making  these connections. Actual  social work  was about                                                                    
educating the  parties of the  importance of  providing each                                                                    
child  with a  network of  support. She  reviewed the  time-                                                                    
consuming grunt work it took  to facilitate connections. She                                                                    
saw HB 151 as an  opportunity to ensure that caseworkers had                                                                    
the training they needed to  develop a skill set specific to                                                                    
child protection and to learn  how to foster resiliency. She                                                                    
reviewed research  that suggested  that caseworkers  who had                                                                    
social work  education and appropriate training  were better                                                                    
able  to facilitate  permanency.  Higher  caseloads and  the                                                                    
high rate of frontline staff  turnover was a growing problem                                                                    
within  OCS. She  favored the  caseload  cap in  HB 151  and                                                                    
reviewed  the   consequences  of  staff  turnover   and  the                                                                    
associated domino effect.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  indicated  he had  to  attend  another                                                                    
meeting. His staff would remain available for questions.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:59:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA  METIVIER, FACING  FOSTER CARE  IN ALASKA,  ANCHORAGE                                                                    
(via  teleconference),  spoke  in  support of  HB  151.  She                                                                    
reported  having been  in foster  care for  3 years  and had                                                                    
aged  out of  the system.  She  had been  a licensed  foster                                                                    
parent for  the previous 10  years to teenagers  within OCS.                                                                    
She  highlighted  a  few  things   in  the  bill  that  were                                                                    
recommended by  youth in the  foster care  system presently.                                                                    
Identifying   relatives  promoted   kinship  placement   for                                                                    
children. The bill added a  provision that an OCS supervisor                                                                    
had to  certify that a  relative search had  been conducted.                                                                    
By doing  this early  on it  avoided the  risk of  having to                                                                    
pull  a child  away from  a foster  parent they  bonded with                                                                    
because  of a  grandmother coming  forward. Sibling  contact                                                                    
was a  very important piece,  as youth separated  from their                                                                    
siblings often experienced more  trauma. Older siblings were                                                                    
often caregivers  to younger children. Being  separated from                                                                    
them  felt like  having one's  own child  removed. The  bill                                                                    
promoted ongoing  contact with  siblings. For example,  if a                                                                    
young child  was adopted while  the sibling remained  in the                                                                    
system, they  would have the  right to have  their sibling's                                                                    
information,  maintain  contact   through  phone  calls  and                                                                    
social media,  and have in-person  visits to  continue their                                                                    
relationship.  She  has  had contact  with  countless  young                                                                    
people  who had  been split  up from  their siblings  in the                                                                    
system. She  shared a story about  a child who had  seen her                                                                    
brother on the bus but had  not spoken to him because she no                                                                    
longer knew him.  She continued that another  large piece of                                                                    
the bill  dealt with older youth  potentially being involved                                                                    
with  their  case  planning. It  was  about  engaging  older                                                                    
youth, 14 and older, in  the development and ongoing process                                                                    
of  their case  plan. For  young people  14 and  older, they                                                                    
should  be at  court hearings  and attending  team meetings.                                                                    
The bill would give them the  option of inviting 2 people to                                                                    
be advocates on  their behalf at meetings and to  be a voice                                                                    
for them. She  suggested that young people  engaged in their                                                                    
plan were more likely to  follow through and be onboard. She                                                                    
mentioned the idea of normalcy,  which came from the federal                                                                    
language around the reasonable  and prudent parent standard.                                                                    
It  would allow  foster parents  to  do things  like sign  a                                                                    
permission  slip   for  a  field   trip.  She   provided  an                                                                    
additional  example. The  largest piece  of the  legislation                                                                    
was  the training  and workload  standards and  burnout. She                                                                    
provided an example.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:04:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARNA  SANFORD,  TANANA  CHIEFS CONFERENCE,  FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                    
teleconference),  testified   in  favor   of  HB   151.  She                                                                    
expressed  excitement  about  the bill.  She  highlighted  a                                                                    
provision  related  to  youths remaining  in  state  custody                                                                    
until  the  age of  21.  She  supported the  provision.  She                                                                    
stated  that foster  children were  not allowed  to do  many                                                                    
things such as attend  sleepovers. She spoke about extremely                                                                    
high caseloads for social workers  in Alaska. She understood                                                                    
state expenditures were  under the gun, but  she assured the                                                                    
committee the bill was a good investment.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:07:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TREVOR  STORRES,  ALASKA  CHILDREN'S TRUST,  ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified  in strong support of  HB 151. He                                                                    
remarked that  the most valuable  resource in the  state was                                                                    
its children.  Events such  as child  abuse and  neglect had                                                                    
great impacts  on brain and  social development.  It created                                                                    
more trauma  for a child  when OCS  had to remove  them from                                                                    
their home.  He spoke  to ensuring that  the system  did not                                                                    
hamper  the treatment  of trauma  or  add more  trauma to  a                                                                    
child's life.  He suggested that  due to high  caseloads and                                                                    
the lack  of training  at OCS it  was difficult  to maintain                                                                    
assurances.  The  bill  ensured  that  OCS  had  appropriate                                                                    
caseloads  and training  to provide  the needed  support for                                                                    
children in the  system. The things case  workers dealt with                                                                    
were difficult to  manage with very high  caseloads (2,3, or                                                                    
4  times  the national  average).  He  discussed high  staff                                                                    
turnover  rates.  He spoke  to  additional  benefits of  the                                                                    
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:09:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL D.  KENDALL, SELF, ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), did                                                                    
not have a  position on the bill. He spoke  to several items                                                                    
unrelated  to HB  151. He  wondered if  any of  the children                                                                    
were  borderline babies  or illegal  aliens. He  referred to                                                                    
money paid monthly to foster  parents. He continued to relay                                                                    
testimony unrelated to the bill.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:14:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BYRON   CHARLES,  SELF,   KETCHIKAN  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
relayed  a personal  experience where  he witnessed  a child                                                                    
being told a  GED was not enough. He did  not understand why                                                                    
the  legislature  could  not   make  a  right  decision.  He                                                                    
advocated careful background  checks and careful monitoring.                                                                    
He  thought  the system  was  too  cumbersome. He  spoke  of                                                                    
having college students work with children.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair  Guttenberg CLOSED  Public Testimony  for HB                                                                    
151.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Alternate Chair  Guttenberg reported that amendments  for HB                                                                    
151 were  due in  the chairman's office  by 5:00  PM Friday,                                                                    
April 14, 2017.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:17:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson asked  for a  moment to  talk to  the                                                                    
department about a case plan and a 14-year-old.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY  LAWTON, DIRECTOR,  OFFICE  OF CHILDREN'S  SERVICES,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT  OF   HEALTH  AND  SOCIAL   SERVICES,  introduced                                                                    
herself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wilson    was   unclear    about   children                                                                    
participating  in their  own case  plan. She  asked about  a                                                                    
child  that was  14 years  old or  older attending  the team                                                                    
decision making  with the parents  underneath the  case plan                                                                    
for the  parents or  another type of  case plan.  Ms. Lawton                                                                    
responded that  every child  was provided  a case  plan when                                                                    
they came into care in addition to their parents.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   wondered  if  the   children  would                                                                    
participate in  team decision making with  their parents, or                                                                    
just  their own  plan with  2  adults of  their choice.  Ms.                                                                    
Lawton  responded   that  typically  team   decision  making                                                                    
meetings  were not  about case  planning.  She believed  the                                                                    
provision  of the  bill was  that  when they  were having  a                                                                    
meeting about case planning and  talking about permanency or                                                                    
services for  youth that were  14 or older they  could bring                                                                    
in  adult  supports.  Currently, they  should  be  including                                                                    
children  in  the  discussion   about  their  case  planning                                                                    
development  as age  appropriate. The  Office of  Children's                                                                    
Services  did that  in various  forms including  home visits                                                                    
and various means.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  asked  if   there  were  2  separate                                                                    
meetings. Ms. Lawton  believed the intent of  the sponsor on                                                                    
the specific language was about  a meeting for the child. It                                                                    
might  be  possible  that  the parent  would  be  there  and                                                                    
sometimes older  youth participated in team  decision making                                                                    
meetings  with  their  parents  when  they  were  discussing                                                                    
placement. The preferred practice was  for older youth to be                                                                    
engaged in all the meetings as appropriate.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson asked  if a case plan  was written for                                                                    
the parent.  She had never known  a child to be  involved in                                                                    
case  plan meetings,  as they  were more  about the  parents                                                                    
following through.  She asked if there  were currently older                                                                    
children  involved in  the parents'  case  plan. Ms.  Lawton                                                                    
responded that  typically a child  did not participate  in a                                                                    
case  plan meeting.  However, she  heard the  representative                                                                    
using the  term "team  decision making meetings"  which were                                                                    
different.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson   would  have  a  big   problem  with                                                                    
children  suddenly being  in with  their parents  because it                                                                    
could cause  a significant  amount of  misunderstanding. She                                                                    
did not  have a problem  if the  child was having  a meeting                                                                    
separate from the one their parents  had. She did not have a                                                                    
problem  with 2  separate  meetings.  Ms. Lawton  responded,                                                                    
"Correct."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Alternate-Chair  Guttenberg  reviewed  the  agenda  for  the                                                                    
following day.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HB 151 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further                                                                              
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Sponsor statement - museum construction bill.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 166
HB 166 lttrs supporting.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 166
HB 151 Brief Explanation of Changes.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Sponsor Statement version N.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 1. OCS Office by Office Caseloads.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 2. High Caseloads How Do They Impact Health and Human Services 3.1.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 3. Children Waiting to be Adopted 2014.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 4. Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems (Excerpt).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 5. NJ DCF Workforce Report (Excerpt).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 6. Why the Workforce Matters.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 7. Creating a Permanence Driven Organization - Anu (Excerpt).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 8. DHSS Memo OOH Growth.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 9. DHSS Memo NJ Standard and Workforce.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 10. Relevant Statistics.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 11. Supporting Article.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 12. Youth Essay.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 13. Youth Guide from FFCA.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Supporting Document 14. Letters of Support.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB103 Supporting Documents Optometrist's Education 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Letters 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Document Optometrists Practicing in AK 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Document Medical Liability Premiums Fact Sheet 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Support Document Board of the Examiners in Optometry 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Sponsor Statement 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Sectional Analysis 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Opposition Letters 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Explanation of Changes 4.03.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB103 Additional Documents Regulation Flow Chart 4.01.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB 151 Supporting Document 15. Casey Family Programs Testimony.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Explanation of Changes 4.10.17 version N to I.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Sectional Analysis Version I 4.10.17.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 151 Sectional Analysis version N (no change from vers R).pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151
HB 103 - Opposition Documents.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 103
HB 151 Sponsor Statement version I.pdf HFIN 4/12/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 151