Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/13/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a Call of the Chair --
-- Delayed to 2:00 PM --
+= HB 127 CRIM. CONV. OVERTURNED: RECEIVE PAST PFD TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 127(FIN) Out of Committee
+= HB 47 MUNICIPAL PERS CONTRIBUTIONS/INTEREST TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 47 Out of Committee
+ HB 155 AK MENTAL HEALTH TRUST LAND EXCHANGE TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 151 DHSS;CINA; FOSTER CARE; CHILD PROTECTION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
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."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:19:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LES GARA, SPONSOR  explained detail about the                                                                    
need for  the bill. He stressed  it was not prudent  to have                                                                    
youth see a  different foster parent. The bill was  a fix to                                                                    
try to make  the system work. Without the  bill the negative                                                                    
consequences would continue to  occur. He stressed the state                                                                    
could  not keep  doing it.  He remarked  a caseworker  could                                                                    
handle about  12 to  15 cases  - they  could not  handle the                                                                    
number  of  cases they  currently  had.  The caseworkers  on                                                                    
average in the Wasilla office  handled 43 families; in other                                                                    
areas the caseload was double what it should be.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:28:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara  continued  to  address the  bill.  in  New                                                                    
Jersey, which  many people  saw as  the gold  standard, they                                                                    
gave 6  to 8  weeks of training  to caseworkers.  Alaska did                                                                    
about 2  to 3 weeks. The  bill specified Alaska should  do 6                                                                    
to 8  weeks. The caseloads  of new caseworkers  were limited                                                                    
to prevent  burnout. He  stated things went  on too  long at                                                                    
OCS  because it  was  an  agency in  crisis.  He provided  a                                                                    
scenario where foster parents had quit because of problems.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:35:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara continued to address  the bill. He could not                                                                    
in good conscience recommend leaving  the system the same. A                                                                    
child  did  not deserve  to  be  bounced between  homes.  He                                                                    
thought the fiscal note would  be $12 million to $15 million                                                                    
and he had  been nervous. However, due to  federal funds and                                                                    
other, the  fiscal note would  be approximately  $5 million.                                                                    
Part of the bill had to  be dropped. He continued that there                                                                    
were youth  who were 18 to  20 who did not  have homes. Some                                                                    
of those kids would end up  in a permanent home, but at $7.8                                                                    
million it  was not  the best  use of  money, which  hurt to                                                                    
say. The fiscal note would disappear.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:39:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara  addressed  the original  fiscal  note  for                                                                    
caseworkers to  meet the standard  - he had worked  with the                                                                    
department  that had  been trying  to determine  the federal                                                                    
matching  rate.  He  planned   to  introduce  to  raise  the                                                                    
caseload  standard  to 13  to  come  up with  an  affordable                                                                    
fiscal note. It  would still be far superior  to the current                                                                    
caseloads.  He  reiterated  the   changes  that  would  mean                                                                    
roughly  $4.2 million  for  caseworkers  and training.  Some                                                                    
office space and  equipment would come with that  as well. A                                                                    
caseworker  was supposed  to look  out  to see  if a  family                                                                    
member could  care for  the child;  often the  family member                                                                    
would become the  adoptive parent. The bill  would require a                                                                    
supervisor  to   double  check  if   a  family   member  was                                                                    
available.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:42:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  agreed  there  was  a  problem.  She                                                                    
pointed to  page 5, lines  16 to 20  of the bill.  She asked                                                                    
who determined appropriate placement.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara replied  that  the  placement standard  was                                                                    
about what was the best interest for the child.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson asked for  the statutory definition of                                                                    
"best interest for a child."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara  did not know  the statutory  definition. //                                                                    
He deferred to the department for detail.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY  LAWTON, DIRECTOR,  OFFICE  OF CHILDREN'S  SERVICES,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH  AND SOCIAL SERVICES, did  not have the                                                                    
definition on hand. She would follow up.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:47:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson placed concerns  on the record related                                                                    
to the fiscal note. She wondered  why there was not a fiscal                                                                    
note from  the Public Defenders'  Agency and other.  She was                                                                    
also   concerned  about   qualifications  of   workers.  She                                                                    
wondered how the bill would impact supervised visits.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:50:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Gara spoke  to the  fiscal notes  for the  other                                                                    
departments -  there were a  shortage of guardians.  He knew                                                                    
of at least  one caseworker who had not known  looking for a                                                                    
family member was a part of their job.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson was  not debating  that portion.  She                                                                    
did not  believe all of the  people who would be  hired. She                                                                    
addressed complaints  that came in. There  was a possibility                                                                    
more investigations were done. It  had happened in the past.                                                                    
She was not stating the issue was right or wrong.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:55:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara  stated that the  first sixty days  that the                                                                    
child was in foster care  were assigned an assessment worker                                                                    
who was required  to develop a case plan.  That person often                                                                    
did not  have time to meet  with the parents. He  hoped that                                                                    
the caseload standard would be 13 cases.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Lawton elaborated  stated that  the  reduction of  case                                                                    
loads  and  the  addition  of staff  would  allow  for  more                                                                    
visitation,  because those  workers  could potentially  have                                                                    
time to  supervise some of  those visits, with  the possible                                                                    
flexibility in the parent home.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson asked  how  many investigations  were                                                                    
currently investigated.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lawton asked for clarification.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson clarified her question.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lawton answered the department screened roughly 10,000.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:00:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt asked how  to deal with the additional                                                                    
burden of new requirements.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara replied that the  bill aimed to lessen bill.                                                                    
He had never spoken to his  first foster family and had been                                                                    
taught that  he was  not supposed  to maintain  contact with                                                                    
them. He regretted it.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:03:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt looked at  Section 10, and queried the                                                                    
roll  of  psychological  parents   and  grandparents  as  it                                                                    
related to foster families.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara asked for further clarification.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt relayed  that there was a  case of the                                                                    
psychological grandparents rejecting children.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Foster  handed   the   gavel  to   Representative                                                                    
Kawasaki.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara that  the section tried to  limit the number                                                                    
of  children  removed  from  their  family.  He  provided  a                                                                    
scenario  where  a grandparent  lived  at  home. Section  10                                                                    
specified the child should be allowed to remain at home.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:07:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt  spoke  to trying  to  determine  the                                                                    
definition of family member.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara  answered there was  no attempt in  the bill                                                                    
to change the definition of family member.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HB  151  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kawasaki  addressed  the  schedule  for  the                                                                    
following day.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson asked about the amendment due date.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:10:00 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
5:12:36 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara relayed  he would aim to  remove the portion                                                                    
related  to  adoption   subsidies  and  changing  caseworker                                                                    
standards to 13 instead of 12.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson wondered  whether the  statutes would                                                                    
be based on appropriation to meet that standard.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Gara  replied that the fiscal  note would reflect                                                                    
the actual cost for meeting the caseload.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Foster communicated  amendments  would  be due  by                                                                    
noon  on  Saturday.  He  addressed   the  schedule  for  the                                                                    
following  day. He  recessed the  meeting to  a call  of the                                                                    
chair [note: the meeting never reconvened].                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB155 Additional Document-AMHTFA Fact Sheet.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Additional Document-SEACC Comments on No Name Bay.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Invited Testimony-Wyn Menefee.pptx HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Letter of Comment-SEACC.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Additional Document-Maps as of 3.3.17.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Opposing Document-Doug Rhodes Letter.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Sectional Analysis 03.07.17.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Sponsor Statement 03.07.17.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Summary of Changes ver O to ver U.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Supporting Document-AFA Letter.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Supporting Document-AFA Response to SEACC.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Supporting Document-Bob Weinstein Letter.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Supporting Document-Federal Legislation.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB155 Supporting Document-Letters Compiled.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 155
HB 127 Amendment #1.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB 47 - Amendment #1.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 47
HB 127 - Amendments.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB47 Actuarial Letter 3.16.17.pdf HFIN 4/13/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 47