Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106


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03:11:18 PM Start
03:13:01 PM HB53
05:08:32 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB  53-CHILDREN IN NEED OF AID/REVIEW PANELS                                                                                  
CHAIR WILSON announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
SPONSOR  SUBSTITUTE FOR  HOUSE BILL  NO. 53  "An Act  relating to                                                               
child-in-need-of-aid  proceedings; amending  the construction  of                                                               
statutes pertaining  to children  in need of  aid; relating  to a                                                               
duty and standard of care  for services to children and families,                                                               
to  the confidentiality  of investigations,  court hearings,  and                                                               
public  agency records  and  information in  child-in-need-of-aid                                                               
matters  and  certain  child   protection  matters,  to  immunity                                                               
regarding  disclosure  of  information in  child-in-  need-of-aid                                                               
matters and  certain child protection  matters, to  the retention                                                               
of  certain  privileges  of  a parent  in  a  relinquishment  and                                                               
termination  of a  parent and  child relationship  proceeding, to                                                               
eligibility for permanent fund dividends  for certain children in                                                               
the   custody  of   the  state,   and  to   juvenile  delinquency                                                               
proceedings and  placements; establishing a  right to a  trial by                                                               
jury   in    termination   of   parental    rights   proceedings;                                                               
reestablishing and relating to state  citizens' review panels for                                                               
certain child  protection and custody matters;  amending the duty                                                               
to disclose  information pertaining  to a child  in need  of aid;                                                               
authorizing additional  family members  to consent  to disclosure                                                               
of  confidential or  privileged  information  about children  and                                                               
families involved with children's  services within the Department                                                               
of Health and  Social Services to officials for review  or use in                                                               
official  capacities;   relating  to  reports  of   harm  and  to                                                               
adoptions and foster care; mandating  reporting of the medication                                                               
of  children   in  state  custody;  prescribing   the  rights  of                                                               
grandparents   related   to    child-in-need-of-aid   cases   and                                                               
establishing  a  grandparent  priority for  adoption  in  certain                                                               
child-in-need-of-aid  cases;  modifying  adoption  and  placement                                                               
procedures  in   certain  child-in-need-of-aid   cases;  amending                                                               
treatment service requirements for  parents involved in child-in-                                                               
need-of-aid  proceedings;   amending  Rules  9  and   13,  Alaska                                                               
Adoption Rules;  amending Rules  3, 18, and  22, Alaska  Child in                                                               
Need of  Aid Rules of  Procedure; and providing for  an effective                                                               
3:13:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL, sponsor  to HB  53, said  that HB  53 is                                                               
about taking care of children  first and protecting families.  He                                                               
explained that  he has sponsored other  legislation that promotes                                                               
children and  family rights and that  HB 53 is a  continuation of                                                               
this.  He  related that this bill is recognition  that we do have                                                               
children who are not being  treated well and that the [Department                                                               
of Health  and Social Services,  "Department"] needs tools  to be                                                               
able  to put  them into  protective custody.   He  explained that                                                               
this bill  is a combination of  three different bills, HB  53, HB                                                               
114, HB  113, and HB 17;  the reason these bills  are combined is                                                               
because they all  deal with the title of the  children in need of                                                               
aid under "child  title 47 and 12".   He said, "I  thought it was                                                               
best if  we put them  together and  then really ask  the question                                                               
... are we treating families and  children and our society in the                                                               
cleanest possible way."                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  stated that  he has the  greatest respect                                                               
for those who  are working directly in the  [human] service field                                                               
as  they  are witness  to  some  of  the toughest  emotional  and                                                               
physical  abuse issues  in life.    He pointed  out that  service                                                               
workers have  a dual role  in that they are  enforcement officers                                                               
for children involved  in issues as well as  being social service                                                               
workers or counselors.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL   introduced  the   sectional   analysis                                                               
attached to  HB 53 and  encouraged the committee to  read through                                                               
it  and  investigate.    He added  that  the  attached  "subject"                                                               
sectional addresses  the varied  topics within  all of  the bills                                                               
that  comprise  HB 53  including  family  preservation and  civil                                                               
liability issues.  He said:                                                                                                     
     if we  can open  up court  proceedings that  will still                                                                    
     retain the integrity of the  system, and the benefit to                                                                    
     the child, make sure that  we don't harm that child one                                                                    
     more time  then I  think it will  be beneficial  to all                                                                    
     involved, so that's why I  went down through this topic                                                                    
     ...  the videotaping  has a  couple things,  we already                                                                    
     have  children's advocacy  centers  in  Alaska that  do                                                                    
     examinations in  videotaping of children who  have been                                                                    
     sexually  assaulted  ...  it  is  probably  the  finest                                                                    
     service  to children  who have  been damaged  in Alaska                                                                    
     and it is proven to be  a very good system ... it helps                                                                    
     protect  those  parents  who fear  the  social  service                                                                    
     worker but  it also protects the  social service worker                                                                    
     ... the  accountability measures that come  at the last                                                                    
     of the bill and  there are some applicability languages                                                                    
     I know  that some  of the  topics are  going to  be ...                                                                    
     controversial, I  have worked  with the  Department ...                                                                    
     Department of Law, ...  [Office of Children's Services,                                                                    
     "OCS"],  I've  worked  with the  Commissioner  [of  the                                                                    
     Department],  I've worked  with the  Governor's office,                                                                    
     in  trying to  meld  the different  bills together  ...                                                                    
     it's  a  rather  long  bill   ...  I  want  to  protect                                                                    
     children,  but I  also  want to  protect  families.   I                                                                    
     believe the  government has a responsibility  to insure                                                                    
     the safety of their children,  but I feel very strongly                                                                    
     about family preservation ... it  gives us the right to                                                                    
     get  a  child  out  of somebody's  home  under  certain                                                                    
     conditions,  and  protect  that  child,  and  then,  go                                                                    
     through the process.                                                                                                       
3:25:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  asked Representative  Coghill to  go through  HB 53                                                               
section by section,  "so that ... we know what  this means as far                                                               
as changes in  the current way things are run  and why it's going                                                               
to be better if we make the change."                                                                                            
3:28:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  SSHB  53,  Version  24-LS0251\L,  Mischel,                                                               
3/14/05, as  a work draft.   There being no objection,  CSSSHB 53                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
3:29:25 PM                                                                                                                    
RYNNIEVA MOSS, Staff to Representative John Coghill, said:                                                                      
     Section 1 gives a preference  to an adult family member                                                                    
     for placement that includes a  grandparent and it gives                                                                    
     preference for  adult members who have  cared for their                                                                    
     grandchildren or a child for  two years or more when it                                                                    
     comes  to the  termination of  parental rights  and the                                                                    
     child is let out for adoption.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER inquired  as to  the reference  in HB  53                                                               
concerning  grandparents [providing  care] for  grandchildren for                                                               
two-year periods.                                                                                                               
MS. MOSS said that the two-year period could be amended.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER stated that  one-year could be an adequate                                                               
MS. MOSS explained that Section  2 deals with the relinquishments                                                               
of parental  rights and that  this section  is in the  process of                                                               
revision.   She  said that  Section 3  deals with  permanent fund                                                               
dividends and  their availability  for children  receiving mental                                                               
health treatment out of state.   She related that Section 3 of HB                                                               
53  supplies  an exemption  so  that  children receiving  [mental                                                               
health] treatment out-of-state will  still receive their dividend                                                               
and if they  are in state custody, the dividend  is held in trust                                                               
until they are 18, or out of state custody.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON inquired  as to  children receiving  their                                                               
dividend if they  are placed out of state, but  are not receiving                                                               
MS. MOSS said that the  aforementioned children would be in state                                                               
custody, and  would still  be Alaskan  residents.   She continued                                                               
with Section  4, which concerns  the intent language of  the bill                                                               
and  addresses the  duty and  standard  of care  for children  in                                                               
state custody.   She said that Section 6 clarifies  that OCS does                                                               
not have  to have prior permission  to start a [Child  in Need of                                                               
Aid,  "CINA"] investigation  or  follow a  petition for  custody.                                                               
Section 7 is part of  Representative Rokeberg's bill which allows                                                               
for adult  family members including grandparents  to petition for                                                               
custody  proceedings,  she  related.    She  explained  that  the                                                               
language  is  unclear  and that  the  committee  substitute  will                                                               
probably provide that the adult  family member would petition for                                                               
custody  under   [Alaskan  Statute]  "47.10.110"  which   is  the                                                               
appointment  of a  guardian or  custodian.   Section 8  creates a                                                               
right to  a jury  trial for termination  of parental  rights, she                                                               
3:35:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL stated that  when the government takes the                                                               
child away, the  parental rights are terminated  under a timeline                                                               
given by  the federal  government and  this is  incorporated into                                                               
Alaskan statute.  He offered  different ideas concerning how best                                                               
to  deal with  situations where  the evidence  clearly determines                                                               
that parental rights  should be terminated.  He  added that there                                                               
are some things a court can do to extend the timeline.                                                                          
3:39:21 PM                                                                                                                    
TAMMY  SANDOVOL,   Deputy  Commissioner,  Office   of  Children's                                                               
Services,  Department of  Health  and Social  Services, said  OCS                                                               
places  children  in state  custody  under  the most  serious  of                                                               
situations and as a last resort.  She continued:                                                                                
     we  believe that  it's important  for the  committee to                                                                    
     consider  the decisions  that the  Department makes  to                                                                    
     petition  for the  termination of  parental rights  are                                                                    
     not  made  lightly.   In  almost  all child  protective                                                                    
     services  cases, the  Department's goal  is to  reunify                                                                    
     children  with  their  families and  that  judges  hear                                                                    
     termination cases and ...  followed the case throughout                                                                    
     from beginning  to end  and so they  are well  aware of                                                                    
     what's  happened throughout  the life  of the  case and                                                                    
     ...  are  intimately  familiar  with  all  the  history                                                                    
     that's  involved with  the family.   They've  heard the                                                                    
     positions of  the parties, the  level of  evidence that                                                                    
     must   be  presented   and   the   state  and   federal                                                                    
     requirements that relate to  terminations.  Rulings are                                                                    
     not  always   in  our  favor  ...   the  Department  is                                                                    
     concerned  that   scheduling  a  jury  trial   will  be                                                                    
     difficult for  the court  calendar ...  assembling jury                                                                    
     trials  will delay  hearings  even  further, and  cause                                                                    
     additional  delays  in  the  permanency  for  children.                                                                    
     Federal  law requires  that if  the child  has been  in                                                                    
     custody  of  the  Department  for 15  of  the  last  22                                                                    
     months,  the Department  must  proceed with  permanency                                                                    
     for the  child, unless there are  compelling reasons to                                                                    
     extend  the  deadline  ... reunification,  adoption  or                                                                    
     guardianship  must be  accomplished  or  in process  by                                                                    
     that timeline.   Additionally,  federal review  ... has                                                                    
     already identified  that we haven't  done such  a great                                                                    
     job in  meeting the  deadlines for  holding termination                                                                    
     hearings,  delays  in  scheduling  court  hearings  are                                                                    
     already delaying permanency for children, currently.                                                                       
3:42:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON  inquired  as  to  OCS  being  able  to  delay  the                                                               
MS.   SONDOVAL  explained   that  there   is  a   concept  called                                                               
"compelling reasons"  where there would  have to be  a compelling                                                               
reason to offer the court to  extend the deadline.  This is based                                                               
on what the federal law has determined is compelling.                                                                           
CHAIR WILSON asked for an example of a compelling reason.                                                                       
JOANNE  GIBBENS,  Program  Administrator,  Office  of  Children's                                                               
Services, Department  of Health and Social  Services, stated that                                                               
parental rights  would not  be terminated  if a  parent was  in a                                                               
successful  treatment program  and  was  making progress  towards                                                               
MS. SONDOVAL said:                                                                                                              
     we've looked  at our termination trials  and we believe                                                                    
     that there'd be a  possibility of an additional 90-jury                                                                    
     trials  per  year  ... and  in  consultation  with  the                                                                    
     Department  of  Law  and other  agencies,  that  was  a                                                                    
     conservative estimate.   ...  we believe that  it would                                                                    
     take an  additional 3 days  to the current  process and                                                                    
     the  additional  days  would   be  necessary  for  jury                                                                    
     selection, jury  education, jury deliberation,  and the                                                                    
     changes  in practice  and procedures  that would  occur                                                                    
     with a jury trial.   The time that social workers spend                                                                    
     preparing for a termination ... is 5-7 days.                                                                               
3:45:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER pointed  out that  the jury  trial is  an                                                               
attempt  to safeguard  the termination  of  parental rights  when                                                               
there is  not adequate cause.   She advocated for  the inspection                                                               
of CINA rules under which children  come in state custody and are                                                               
kept in custody.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  said   that  Representative   Gardner's                                                               
comments are  correct.   He explained  that in  Section 9  of the                                                               
[sectional  analysis]   the  opening  of  court   proceedings  is                                                               
discussed, as  well as  the use  of a citizen  review panel.   He                                                               
offered that  if he  were a  struggling individual,  dealing with                                                               
many  problems,  he   would  want  extra  care   taken  with  the                                                               
assessment  of  his  parental  rights   and  the  possibility  of                                                               
termination of those rights.                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON inquired  as to the selections of  families for jury                                                               
trials  [regarding parental  termination].   She asked  who would                                                               
choose the families that get a trial.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  said  that  he has  not  yet  found  [in                                                               
statute] other examples of who might make this decision.                                                                        
3:48:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA said:                                                                                                     
     in a perfect world, the  report harm would come in, and                                                                    
     we would  be contacting  relatives ... and  there would                                                                    
     be services available to help  the people ... what does                                                                    
     appear to  exist, is  that kids  come into  the system,                                                                    
     they have  a hard time  ... it's hard to  find extended                                                                    
     family members  that might be  the best people  to take                                                                    
     those  children ...  the services  often times  are not                                                                    
     available or people  have two jobs and  they are trying                                                                    
     to juggle that while trying  to meet the needs that the                                                                    
     Department has set to get  their kids back or they have                                                                    
     perhaps a drug  problem, and they're on  a waiting list                                                                    
     for drug  treatment ...  there's a  whole long  list of                                                                    
     things that  will force  the system  to have  the child                                                                    
     for  one  or  two  years  ...  meanwhile,  the  child's                                                                    
     bonding capability,  especially if they move  from home                                                                    
     to  home   to  home,  is  literally   destroyed.    The                                                                    
     psychological  glue that  keeps a  child able  to love,                                                                    
     able to  feel empathy and  caring and be a  good social                                                                    
     member ...  can be destroyed  in that kind  of process.                                                                    
     It's  the highest  level of  abuse that  you can  put a                                                                    
     child through, and  that's the system ...  I think that                                                                    
      this is a horrible situation that has developed over                                                                      
       many, many years, but I am wondering why ... there                                                                       
     wouldn't be a looking at standards of care earlier ...                                                                     
3:52:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL related that  he and Representative Cissna                                                               
agree on family  preservation.  He expressed his  concern that at                                                               
the jury trial level, the  patterns [of a particular family] have                                                               
been  discovered, the  life of  the family  has become  very well                                                               
known  and sometimes  the termination  of the  parental right  is                                                               
pushed  because  of  time.     He  said  that  in  these  complex                                                               
situations,  the   timelines  dictated  by  the   system  can  be                                                               
limiting,  and  the  unfortunate  product  can  be  the  absolute                                                               
termination of parental rights.   He commented, "I've seen places                                                               
where  I was  just devastated  when the  parents had  their child                                                               
taken away, and even more devastated  when they lost the right to                                                               
be that  child's parent, and that  is just like giving  the death                                                               
penalty to  somebody and I  think we need  a good due  process to                                                               
make sure  that we're not messing  up here ... the  vast majority                                                               
of those  children taken into  custody, there's  good, compelling                                                               
reasons for doing  that, so, I want to make  sure that our system                                                               
has a place where somebody can  look over their shoulder and say,                                                               
that was the right decision."                                                                                                   
3:55:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  pointed out  that  parents  [who are  on                                                               
trial] have an  attorney to use as their advocate,  and it's that                                                               
attorney's role to make sure that the parent's rights are met.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL responded that  there are many sections in                                                               
[HB 53] that the language will be improved upon.                                                                                
3:56:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS said  that Section 9 opens CINA hearings  to the public,                                                               
and Section  10 addresses that  there may be instances  where the                                                               
hearing  needs to  be  closed.   She  explained  that Section  11                                                               
includes clean-up language that  was implemented for jury trials,                                                               
and  that Section  12 instructs  OCS  to make  every attempt  for                                                               
visitation by  parents and  families when  children are  in state                                                               
custody.   She  added that  this is  addressed in  Representative                                                               
Rokeberg's  HB 17,  where  if OCS  denies  visitations they  must                                                               
notify  the parents  or the  family  members of  the reasons  for                                                               
denying visitation.                                                                                                             
CHAIR WILSON  clarified that  when parents  are notified  [of the                                                               
reasons for denied visitation], OCS  will inform the parents also                                                               
of their right to request a review hearing.                                                                                     
MS. MOSS stated that is correct.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA inquired as to  the issues of space for the                                                               
Department and  the time and  cost involved in finding  rooms for                                                               
MS. MOSS stated that part  of OCS's request for increased funding                                                               
takes  care of  family  preservation and,  most likely,  includes                                                               
visitation facilities.                                                                                                          
MS.  SONDOVAL clarified  that family  preservation is  more about                                                               
keeping  families  intact  rather than  a  visitation  monitoring                                                               
service.   She said that she  will get more information  from OCS                                                               
regarding the allocation of funds for visitation.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  offered  that  the right  to  request  a                                                               
review hearing might put tension on time and money.                                                                             
4:00:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MOSS said  that  in Section  12, there  will  be a  language                                                               
change in  using the term  "interested party";  the clarification                                                               
will be that  an interested person is not necessarily  a party to                                                               
a case, so  the language will read "interested  person."  Section                                                               
13, she related,  adds three provisions to  judgments and orders,                                                               
and  states that  the  court may  not  terminate parental  rights                                                               
solely  on the  basis  that  the parent  did  not get  treatment,                                                               
especially if  the treatment  was not available  and OCS  did not                                                               
provide the treatment.                                                                                                          
CHAIR  WILSON   asked  for  clarification,  and   said  that  the                                                               
availability of treatment [in Alaska] could be variable.                                                                        
MS.  MOSS  pointed  out  that  there need  to  be  other  reasons                                                               
[besides not  receiving treatment] to constitute  the termination                                                               
of parental rights.   She added that foster  parents are required                                                               
to provide  regular visitation with  the family and  are required                                                               
to be mentors to reunify the family.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked  if the foster parents  in the system                                                               
are willing  to serve  and interact as  mentors to  other adults.                                                               
He commented that  it might be beneficial to be  able to say that                                                               
every foster parent  can become a counselor or a  mentor to other                                                               
families but  it seems questionable  to rely  on them to  take on                                                               
that responsibility.                                                                                                            
MS.  SONDOVAL said  that OCS  has started  to think  about foster                                                               
parents as  being resource families  because they  are encouraged                                                               
in  training  to become  a  resource  to  the child  and  family,                                                               
whereby they can mentor the family.   She added that OCS believes                                                               
this could reunify kids with their families.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said that facilitating  opportunities for                                                               
visitation is of structural importance  and mentoring then, could                                                               
be the [future] direction to head in.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  expressed  his concerns  that  the  added                                                               
requirement of  serving as not only  a foster parent to  a child,                                                               
but a  mentor to parents  might deter  people from signing  up as                                                               
foster parents.                                                                                                                 
4:08:48 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS  pointed out  that there is  language [in  the sectional                                                               
analysis]  that protects  the foster  family  from any  perceived                                                               
harm or  risk with  the institution  of supervised  visitation at                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said  that  not all  foster  parents  are                                                               
equipped to act  as mentors to parents in addition  to caring for                                                               
their foster children.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA commented  on the  different reasons  that                                                               
people become  foster parents.   She  explained a  "foster parent                                                               
model" in  British Columbia  where in  the child  welfare system,                                                               
the  caseworker  was  responsible for  the  recordkeeping,  court                                                               
related work, and  the foster parent was responsible  for much of                                                               
what   caseworkers  normally   do.     She  explained   that  the                                                               
[biological]  parents  were  required   to  fulfill  the  regular                                                               
visitation  schedule and  the [standard]  expectation was  moving                                                               
the child towards reunification.                                                                                                
4:12:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS said that Section  13 opens adjudication hearings to the                                                               
public  unless there  is  an  exception that  is  spelled out  in                                                               
Section  10,  for  instance,  if it  would  hinder  our  criminal                                                               
investigation  or would  be emotionally  damaging  to the  child.                                                               
Section  14, she  related, provides  that OCS  cannot approve  an                                                               
adoption by a  non-related party if a  relative requests approval                                                               
of  adoption,  unless  that relative  is  disqualified  for  some                                                               
reason, set out in statute.   She continued with Section 15 which                                                               
sets out three  reasons the Department could deny  an adoption of                                                               
a child by  a blood relative: placement could  result in physical                                                               
or mental injury, perpetrator in  a substantiated report of abuse                                                               
under  child protection  laws,  or a  household  member is  under                                                               
arrest  for/is charged  with/has  been convicted  of/or has  been                                                               
found guilty by reason of insanity, of a serious offense.                                                                       
DIANNE  OLSEN,   Chief  Assistant,  Attorney   General's  Office,                                                               
Department  of Law  referred to  CSSSHB 53,  Version 24-LS0251\L,                                                               
Mischel,  3/14/05,   and  specifically  addressed,   Section  15,                                                               
[subsection (l)], and said:                                                                                                     
     this is  currently a part  of our  licensing provisions                                                                    
     ... I believe  that this section was  simply an attempt                                                                    
     to bring  those licensing provisions into  the adoption                                                                    
     agreement  as   well,  there  previously  had   been  a                                                                    
     prohibition on making a  preference for blood relatives                                                                    
     for  adoption  although  there  was  a  preference  for                                                                    
     foster  care  alone,  and what  this  section  does  is                                                                    
     provide for ... adoption as well.                                                                                          
4:15:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  attempted to  clarify by  explaining that                                                               
the  requirement  standards for  foster  families  and for  blood                                                               
relatives are different.                                                                                                        
CHAIR WILSON  referred to the  sectional analysis and  asked when                                                               
the Department  would deny adoption  in terms of  the possibility                                                               
of physical or mental injury.                                                                                                   
MS.  OLSEN stated  that  the definitions  of  physical or  mental                                                               
injury are not  necessarily intended to apply  to this "section."                                                               
She said she would inform the committee when she finds out.                                                                     
MS.  MOSS  said  that  [Section  15]  also  requires  a  criminal                                                               
background check on  household members of an  adoptive parent and                                                               
if the  relative is denied an  adoption, they are eligible  for a                                                               
public review  hearing.   Section 16,  she related,  requires the                                                               
Department  to  obtain  permission  from  parents  to  administer                                                               
mental health medication to a child in state custody.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  mentioned Section  16 and  the importance                                                               
of the  maintenance of the  parent-child bond as well  as efforts                                                               
directed toward reunification.   She said that  often the parents                                                               
can't be found, or are  surfacing periodically, and sometimes, it                                                               
is necessary for  a child to receive treatment.   She opined that                                                               
there  should  be  some  way for  the  Department  to  administer                                                               
treatment if the parents cannot be found.                                                                                       
MS.  MOSS related  that the  Department could  get a  court order                                                               
administer medication  if the parents  refuse or  are unavailable                                                               
and  the Department  feels  it is  in the  best  interest of  the                                                               
CHAIR WILSON inquired as to  the Department and parents disputing                                                               
what  is  in   the  best  interest  of  a  child   [in  terms  of                                                               
MS. MOSS restated  that the Department would have to  go to court                                                               
and obtain a court order.                                                                                                       
4:19:35 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  OLSEN  stated  that  if  the  parents  are  not  present,  a                                                               
representative from the  Department would go to court  and if the                                                               
parents refuse  to provide what  is major, medical  treatment the                                                               
Department  would also  go to  court and  have the  court resolve                                                               
that.   She  related that  currently, when  a child  is in  state                                                               
custody the parent  still has a right to make  decisions of major                                                               
medical significance.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL offered that  the residual parental rights                                                               
are found in [Alaskan Statute] "47.10.084."                                                                                     
MS. OLSEN said:                                                                                                                 
     Section 18 is  part of one of the  Governor's bills and                                                                    
     the intention behind this is  that the current law does                                                                    
     not  allow the  Department  to  provide photographs  or                                                                    
     identifying  information to  the public  to identify  a                                                                    
     child as being  a child who is in state  custody.  This                                                                    
     provision would  allow ...  after parental  rights have                                                                    
     been   terminated,  to   be   able   to  provide   that                                                                    
     information specifically for purposes of adoption ...                                                                      
MS. MOSS  said that  Section 19,  currently, allows  adult family                                                               
members  to  disclose  or  request  confidential  information  be                                                               
provided  to  certain  state  officials  such  as  the  governor,                                                               
lieutenant governor, legislators, and  the ombudsman office.  The                                                               
Department sees  some conflicts here  where family  members could                                                               
be   usurping   parental   rights  by   disclosing   confidential                                                               
information  that  only parents  should  be  disclosing, and  the                                                               
language may  have to be  changes in  order to address  that, she                                                               
4:23:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  mentioned  the issue  of  confidentiality                                                               
when information is  sent or brought to legislators.   She opined                                                               
that   confidential   documents   should  be   destroyed   in   a                                                               
conscientious manner.                                                                                                           
MS. MOSS said:                                                                                                                  
     In Representative  Coghill's office,  if we get  a call                                                                    
     from a relative  who is not a parent ...  we don't take                                                                    
     second  hand information  ...  if  they are  requesting                                                                    
     assistance, they  need to contact  the parent  and have                                                                    
     the parent sign a release  disclosure form that we have                                                                    
     prepared.    We've ...  tried  to  coordinate with  the                                                                    
     representative  of that  constituent,  so  we find  out                                                                    
     what  district they're  in, and  then, we  talk to  the                                                                    
     legislators  from that  district, the  senator and  the                                                                    
     representative,  if  they  don't show  an  interest  in                                                                    
     assisting that  person, then we  will even  though they                                                                    
     are not a constituent, help them.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL expressed his  belief that the language in                                                               
[HB 53] is narrow enough to  protect the constituents and is open                                                               
for suggestions to amend the legislation.                                                                                       
4:28:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said that he does  not advocate preventing                                                               
anyone from disclosing information  and thinks that people should                                                               
have  the   right  to  appeal   to  the  government   with  their                                                               
information.   He said that  he wants  to make sure  there aren't                                                               
restrictions for people who are trying to contact legislators.                                                                  
MS. MOSS addressed Representative  Cissna's concern and said that                                                               
staff that  has received confidential information  uses a [paper]                                                               
shredder  to  destroy it  when  it  is  no  longer useful.    She                                                               
explained that when family members  request information, OCS will                                                               
not accommodate  them until  a release form  has been  signed [by                                                               
the  parent].   The section  in discussion  [Section 19]  extends                                                               
that two  family members can  be given  confidential information,                                                               
in addition to the parents.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  described the language in  Section 19 and                                                               
opined that it needed to be more effective.                                                                                     
MS. MOSS  clarified for Representative  Cissna that OCS  does not                                                               
provide copies of  their files and if a constituent  wants to see                                                               
the  files, then  a  request  to OCS  is  made, and  confidential                                                               
information  is purged.   She  explained that  an individual  can                                                               
make an appointment  to read the file and notes  can be taken but                                                               
the files cannot leave the premises.                                                                                            
4:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  inquired as to  Section 22 [of  CSSSHB 53                                                               
Version   24-LS0251\L,  Mischel,   3/14/05]  being   amended  and                                                               
advocated for  the retention of  [subsection (b),  paragraph (3),                                                               
line 30].                                                                                                                       
MS. MOSS said  that Section 20 allows  the disclosure requirement                                                               
to extend past the period by  which the parent's rights have been                                                               
terminated.   She related a  story where a  concerned grandmother                                                               
[who had been parenting her  granddaughter] was not informed when                                                               
parental  rights  were  terminated  [for her  son,  the  parent].                                                               
Section  20, she  explained, addresses  when parental  rights are                                                               
terminated, as long  as the child is still in  state custody, the                                                               
disclosure of information is still available for relatives.                                                                     
MS. MOSS  pointed out  that Section 21  focuses on  disclosure of                                                               
information  and it  makes exceptions  to supplying  confidential                                                               
information to  the perpetrators  that have  been charged  with a                                                               
crime  or when  a  report of  harm  has resulted  in  a death  or                                                               
serious injury.   She further clarified that  this Section allows                                                               
OCS to provide  confidential information if a  parent has already                                                               
gone to  the press and  provided that information; it  allows OCS                                                               
to  give  their  side  of  the   story  and  to  go  public  with                                                               
information when there is a  perpetrator charged with a crime and                                                               
when a report of harm has resulted in death or serious injury.                                                                  
4:38:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. OLSEN  explained that Section  26 provides  information about                                                               
the  kind of  information that  the Department  would be  able to                                                               
disclose pertaining  to if  there has been  a felony  offense, if                                                               
the child  has been a subject  of a fatality or  near fatality or                                                               
if the  parents have gone to  the media already.   She added that                                                               
there is  further disclosure about  the kind of  information that                                                               
the Department  can provide and  it must  be limited so  that the                                                               
identity of  the child would not  be disclosed; it simply  has to                                                               
do with what the Department is doing about the situation.                                                                       
MS. MOSS said that in  Section 22, the disclosure of confidential                                                               
information has been expanded to  include a caregiver responsible                                                               
for  insuring the  safety  of children  and  the citizens  review                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON related a  story where important facts were                                                               
not disclosed concerning a child's  behavior to the acting foster                                                               
parents.    He  inquired  as  to  this  type  of  scenario  being                                                               
addressed through this section.                                                                                                 
MS.  MOSS stated  yes, that  Section 22  would address  [relaying                                                               
essential  behavioral  information  to   foster  parents].    She                                                               
explained that  in Section 23,  there were subsections  that were                                                               
repealed and the repealed language  was revised and combined into                                                               
one paragraph.   She said that Dianne Olsen  discussed Section 24                                                               
and 26.                                                                                                                         
In response  to Chair  Wilson's request,  Ms. Moss  elaborated on                                                               
Section 26  and read from  the sectional  analysis, "Confidential                                                               
records can  be disclosed  to the public  when parents  have made                                                               
that  information   public  already,   and  have   discussed  the                                                               
department's involvement  with the  family or when  a perpetrator                                                               
has been  charged with  a crime  or when the  report of  harm has                                                               
resulted in  a death or  a serious  injury."  She  continued with                                                               
Section  27  and  said  that   it  provides  disclosure  or  non-                                                               
disclosure of  confidential information,  in and by  itself, does                                                               
not create a cause for civil liability.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  said  that  this same  language  was  in                                                               
Senate Bill 84.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON referred to [CSSSHB 53 Version 24-                                                                        
LS0251\L,  Mischel,   3/14/05],  Section  26,   [subsection  (k),                                                               
paragraph (2)] and  clarified that this allows  the Department to                                                               
disclose confidential  information when the  alleged perpetrator,                                                               
namely  in  a report  of  harm,  is charged  with  a  crime.   He                                                               
inquired as to the disclosure  of confidential information in the                                                               
context of being charged with the crime.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL offered if somebody  is a perpetrator of a                                                               
crime  and  is being  charged  in  criminal proceedings,  and  it                                                               
somehow  is  named in  a  CINA  case,  they can't  disclose  that                                                               
information to a criminal court.                                                                                                
4:44:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DIANNE OLSEN, Chief Assistant  Attorney, Human Services Division,                                                               
Department of Law, said that  in many cases, the parent's conduct                                                               
rises to  the level  of felony  and when  charges are  filed, the                                                               
Department  is allowed  to  make a  disclosure  about the  parent                                                               
being charged.  She continued:                                                                                                  
     it's the kind of information  that can be provided in a                                                                    
     criminal case,  but they  would need  to take  steps to                                                                    
     keep  the identity  of the  child from  the public  ...                                                                    
     there is still  the provision in subsection  2 that the                                                                    
     Commissioner or the Department  should consult with the                                                                    
     prosecuting  attorney's office  to make  sure that  any                                                                    
     kind of disclosure  they are making did  not impede the                                                                    
     criminal investigation and the criminal case.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  inquired as to  the definition of  a crime                                                               
meaning a felony.                                                                                                               
DIANNE OLSEN said the definition may  not just be a felony, but a                                                               
criminal action.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL pointed  out  that, "We're  dealing in  a                                                               
civil code ...  this is allowing information to be  given over to                                                               
a criminal charge in a criminal  code ... 'title 47' is all civil                                                               
...  we do  have serious  lockdowns  on what  information can  be                                                               
shared ..."                                                                                                                     
JAN  RUTHERDALE,  Assistant   Attorney  General,  Human  Services                                                               
Division, Department  of Law, clarified  that this  provision and                                                               
those  three subsections  are talking  about  instances when  the                                                               
Department can share  information with the public.   Without this                                                               
law,  she explained,  press inquiries  cannot  be addressed,  but                                                               
this [provision] allows, "us to say  that we did receive a report                                                               
of harm, we did investigate, these  are the actions, this was the                                                               
outcome ...  it allows us  to ... assure  the public that  we did                                                               
take steps or to  say no, we never received a  report of harm, we                                                               
never knew about this and so we couldn't do anything."                                                                          
4:48:55 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said that the  report of harm  for neglect                                                               
doesn't have to be a high standard.  He continued:                                                                              
     I want  to flag  this for  further investigation  ... I                                                                    
     can understand  if we have  a felony, I  can understand                                                                    
     if  we have  certain other  things ...  I just  want to                                                                    
     make sure that we  don't make something permissive here                                                                    
     that  is  broader for  release  to  newspapers and  the                                                                    
     public ...                                                                                                                 
MS. RUTHERDALE  agreed that a report  of harm is very  broad, and                                                               
is required when a crime has been suspected.  She explained:                                                                    
     when  someone's  been charged  with  a  crime ...  this                                                                    
     probably  will  only  involve felonies  ...  those  you                                                                    
     would probably  already have gone through  a grand jury                                                                    
     inquiry or even in a  misdemeanor, a police officer has                                                                    
     to  make  a  sworn  statement,   they  have  to  do  an                                                                    
     investigation  that has  to  go  through the  [District                                                                    
     Attorney's] office  before it  actually can  be charged                                                                    
     as a  crime ...  secondly, this allows  the Department,                                                                    
     it  may disclose  information ...  it  doesn't have  to                                                                    
     disclose  information ...  it  can  decline to  respond                                                                    
     especially    if    it   compromised    the    criminal                                                                    
     investigation, but there may  be other reasons where it                                                                    
     may  not want  to respond  to the  press ...  maybe the                                                                    
     privacy  interests  of  other family  members  ...  or,                                                                    
     maybe  there  is something  that  is  involved that  it                                                                    
     wouldn't be appropriate to respond.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  stated his  concern that the  [language is                                                               
not clear]  and would  prefer to  see the  word "felony"  used so                                                               
that the Department  or the state would be  under some obligation                                                               
to the public to release information.                                                                                           
CHAIR WILSON  clarified that  Representative Seaton's  concern is                                                               
regarding the placement  of "abuse" and "neglect"  in Section 26,                                                               
[subsection (k), paragraph (2)] in HB  53.  She said that section                                                               
will be flagged [for future discussion].                                                                                        
4:53:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS  said that  Section 28 sets  a grievance  procedure into                                                               
statutory law and would require  OCS to inform parents that there                                                               
is  a   grievance  process.     If   the  grievance   process  is                                                               
unsuccessful, she explained,  then a grievance can  be filed with                                                               
the review panel  that's being created under  this legislation so                                                               
that they  can go outside  of the agency to  get a review  of the                                                               
case.  She  pointed out that Section 29 was  created in 1998 when                                                               
HB 375  passed and there  was concern  that with the  adoption of                                                               
federal timelines,  there would  be an  increase of  lawsuits for                                                               
civil liability  because the  timelines weren't  being met.   The                                                               
language now states that if the  timelines are not met, it is not                                                               
a  reason to  create  a  civil liability.    She  added that  the                                                               
Department objects  to taking language  out that says  that there                                                               
is  no  duty  or  standard  of care,  in  providing  services  to                                                               
children in state custody and their parents.                                                                                    
MS.  MOSS  emphasized that  to  say  that  there  is no  duty  or                                                               
standard of  care when  providing services  to children  in state                                                               
custody has been found to  be alarming to parents, Representative                                                               
Coghill, and  herself.   She added  that [she  and Representative                                                               
Coghill] have asked the Department  to go back and offer language                                                               
that  will   satisfy  the   aforementioned  concerns   and  still                                                               
accomplish what is needed.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  stated that the language  will be amended                                                               
so that the  definition of the standard of care  for children and                                                               
families is clear.                                                                                                              
CHAIR WILSON emphasized that this  [the definition of standard of                                                               
care] is an important issue.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL explained  that  in  earlier sections  of                                                               
this bill the standard of care  was set.  He referred to [Alaskan                                                               
Statute]  47.10.960 and  said, "[it]  seems to  exempt them  from                                                               
that, and  it does on  a civil liability  part, and I  would wait                                                               
until our  judiciary chairman is here  with us to help  us hammer                                                               
out some of  that language ... I will be  back with some language                                                               
that will hopefully give us some comfort there."                                                                                
4:57:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS  said that sections 30  and 31 deal with  definitions of                                                               
mental health  professionals.  Section  32, she  explained, takes                                                               
mental health  professionals in the  juvenile justice  section of                                                               
the law  and extends that  to persons licensed in  another state.                                                               
She  related that  Dianne  Olsen has  volunteered  to revise  the                                                               
language in  Section 33  so that  a child cannot  be placed  in a                                                               
foster  home  if  a  family  member or  a  friend  has  requested                                                               
placement of  the child and it  has not been found  that it would                                                               
be in the best interest of the child.  She said:                                                                                
     The problem  that the  Department has  here is  that it                                                                    
     could be  that a  family member  would become  a foster                                                                    
     home or  already is a  foster home ... In  the original                                                                    
     sponsor  substitute,  "neighbor"  was included  ...  we                                                                    
     took  neighbor  out because  that  was  really a  close                                                                    
     proximity,  it's  right next  door,  which  could be  a                                                                    
     problem when you  have a parent who's  abusive ... they                                                                    
     want proximity  addressed in this section  because they                                                                    
     also want to keep the  child within a sensible distance                                                                    
     from  the  parent so  that  visitations  can occur,  so                                                                    
     [Dianne Olsen] will be working on that language.                                                                           
MS. MOSS pointed out that Section  34 provides that if a child is                                                               
placed in a home other than  a home of a relative, the Department                                                               
must fully disclose to the  relative the nature of the placement;                                                               
there is additional language that  provides for if the person has                                                               
difficulty understanding  English, [the nature of  the placement]                                                               
would have to be explained to them in their native language.                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON inquired  as to the reference of "the  nature of the                                                               
MS. MOSS clarified  that "the nature of the  placement" refers to                                                               
the  actual location  of where  the child  is.   Section 35,  she                                                               
said,  creates  state's citizens  review  panel,  and Section  36                                                               
creates  the  duties  of  the  panel,  which  includes  examining                                                               
policies,  procedures,  and practices  of  local  agencies.   She                                                               
added that  it also  includes OCS evaluating  how [the  panel is]                                                               
operating  now,  how they'll  operate  under  HB 53,  and  making                                                               
recommendations  to  the  governor  in  an  annual  report  about                                                               
improvements.    She  explained  that  the  review  panel  serves                                                               
parents  so that  they  can  have a  grievance  hearing, and  can                                                               
review  a case  outside of  the agency  with people  who are  not                                                               
employees of  the agency.   She continued  with Section  37 which                                                               
requires that  certain departments  cooperate with the  panel and                                                               
provide  information.   Section  38  provides  that the  [review]                                                               
panel does  not disclose any  information, to anyone,  whether it                                                               
be the  Department, or whoever, confidential  information is kept                                                               
within  the panel,  she related.    The annual  report would  not                                                               
disclose names  or pictures or  anything that could  disclose the                                                               
identity  of the  people involved,  she related,  and Section  39                                                               
directs the  panel to conduct  meetings and to organize  a public                                                               
outreach program  where they  would travel  around the  state and                                                               
have public meetings and take public testimony on issues.                                                                       
MS. MOSS said  that Section 40 directs the  Department to prepare                                                               
the  annual  report and  provide  it  to  the governor,  and  the                                                               
Department would provide a written  response to the report within                                                               
six  months.   Section 41  imposes a  civil penalty  for exposing                                                               
confidential information  up to $2500 dollars  per violation, and                                                               
Section 42 creates  immunity for state panel  members and persons                                                               
providing support to the panel.                                                                                                 
CHAIR  WILSON inquired  as  to whether  legislators  are able  to                                                               
[view] the annual report.                                                                                                       
MS.  MOSS  said that  sections  61  and 40  [of  HB  53] will  be                                                               
consolidated so that  [the governor] will pass  the annual report                                                               
on to the legislature [to view].                                                                                                
MS.   MOSS  continued   with  Section   43  and   said  that   it                                                               
[establishes]   definitions,   and    Section   44   relates   to                                                               
Representative Rokeberg's  bill where when a  person notifies OCS                                                               
with  a report  of harm,  OCS  is required  to return  to them  a                                                               
status report,  [if requested],  within 20  days, and  OCS cannot                                                               
disclose confidential  information but  can say whether  there is                                                               
or is not an investigation.                                                                                                     
MS. MOSS said:                                                                                                                  
     Section 45  requires that  if school  officials conduct                                                                    
     an interview  of a student,  they must be  qualified to                                                                    
     conduct   that  interview   ...   Section  46   creates                                                                    
     standards for interviewing  CINA cases, encouraging the                                                                    
     use   of  child   advocacy  centers,   and  encouraging                                                                    
     videotaping and audio taping.                                                                                              
CHAIR WILSON  pointed out  that the  sectional analysis  uses the                                                               
word "requiring," while HB 53 uses the word "suggesting."                                                                       
5:05:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS  stated that  she would make  the necessary  change [and                                                               
insert the appropriate word].   She explained that Section 47 has                                                               
been determined to not be needed  and Sections 48 through 58 deal                                                               
with court rules.                                                                                                               
5:07:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL stated his  appreciation of the time spent                                                               
on the Sectional Analysis in this  meeting and will draft [HB 53]                                                               
as soon as possible.                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects