Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/26/2013 03:00 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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03:01:35 PM Start
03:02:48 PM Presentation: Alaska's Citizen Review Panel
03:49:55 PM HB54
04:12:41 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation by Alaska's Citizen Review Panel TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HB 54-PLACEMENT OF A CHILD IN NEED OF AID                                                                        
3:49:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HIGGINS  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL  NO. 54, "An Act relating to                                                               
the  identification,  location,  and  notification  of  specified                                                               
family members  and family  friends of  a child  who is  in state                                                               
3:50:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS)  for sponsor  substitute for  HB 54,  labeled 28-                                                               
LS0202\R, Mischel, 2/7/13, as the  working document.  There being                                                               
no objection, Version R was before the committee.                                                                               
3:50:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LES GARA, Alaska  State Legislature, speaking as a                                                               
joint prime sponsor, said that  the proposed bill was intended to                                                               
be very simple.   He stated that the standard  in foster care was                                                               
to do what  was in the best  interest for the child,  and that it                                                               
was necessary to  look for the best placement for  a child, often                                                               
with another family member.  He  reported that the OCS policy was                                                               
broader than federal law, and  required the search for placement,                                                               
within 30  days, with family  members or adult family  friends of                                                               
the family.   He offered  an anecdotal account that  foster youth                                                               
sometimes recounted  regarding preferred  family members  who had                                                               
not been contacted for placement.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  directed attention  to page  1, line  12, of                                                               
Version  R, which  took the  existing  OCS policy  to search  for                                                               
family  members   and  family   friends,  and  required   that  a                                                               
supervisor sign off  that this had been done  with due diligence.                                                               
He  said  that this  would  ensure  that  the search  for  family                                                               
members as foster parents had been  conducted.  He noted that, as                                                               
childhood  trauma could  put a  bad imprint  on a  child, it  was                                                               
often easier  to repair  this damage  with a  family member.   He                                                               
opined that  OCS was open to  this change, but he  requested that                                                               
this provision  be placed  in statute,  so that  it could  not be                                                               
culled by  any future revisions in  OCS.  He declared  that there                                                               
was not  any cost  and he  pointed out  that this  emphasized the                                                               
importance of this contact.                                                                                                     
3:55:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   STEVE   THOMPSON,  Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
declared  that the  proposed bill  was important,  as it  ensured                                                               
that  the  supervisor had  talked  with  the placement  personnel                                                               
regarding  the search  for placement  with a  family member  or a                                                               
family member friend, in the best interest of the child.                                                                        
3:56:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  to  clarify  the  changes  to  the                                                               
proposed CS.                                                                                                                    
3:57:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  replied that the changes  had been suggested                                                               
by  OCS.   He explained  the  proposed two-step  process by  OCS:                                                               
first, a notification letter would  be sent to every adult family                                                               
member,  and   then  second,  adult   family  friends   would  be                                                               
considered as the next priority after adult family members.                                                                     
3:58:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT  asked  about  the removal  of  the  court                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA,  in response,  stated that  this was  also a                                                               
suggestion from  OCS.   He explained  that the  discovery process                                                               
ensured that  information had  to be  shared between  both sides,                                                               
and that this  eliminated the necessity for the  court to provide                                                               
the information.                                                                                                                
3:58:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HIGGINS opened public testimony.                                                                                          
3:59:18 PM                                                                                                                    
AMANDA  METIVIER, Statewide  Coordinator, Facing  Foster Care  in                                                               
Alaska, stated that she supported  the proposed bill.  She shared                                                               
that she  had worked statewide  with hundreds of young  people in                                                               
and from  foster care, had been  a foster parent and  had been in                                                               
foster care,  and that  the proposed  bill ensured  compliance in                                                               
the  early search  for  placement with  family  and adult  family                                                               
4:00:46 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  WEBB  said that  the  search  process for  family  members                                                               
needed  to be  strengthened.   She  offered her  belief that  the                                                               
discovery process  depended on a  lawyer asking  for information,                                                               
as  it was  not  provided automatically  and,  therefore, it  was                                                               
important to retain  the provision.  She  offered her observation                                                               
that "judges  are woefully  uninformed about  these cases."   She                                                               
suggested that  it would  be a great  improvement if  judges were                                                               
better informed regarding the search  for family members, and the                                                               
reason  why a  family member  was not  selected.   She offered  a                                                               
personal anecdote regarding her  youngest grandson.  She declared                                                               
that  any  additional  information  for judges  would  allow  for                                                               
better decisions.   She said that the  confidentiality rules made                                                               
it difficult for family members  to gain information, and that it                                                               
was necessary for  explanations to family members  when they were                                                               
not  accepted as  foster  parents.   She  declared  that, as  the                                                               
children specialist  position was  initially paid  at a  very low                                                               
level, this was a part of the problem.                                                                                          
4:05:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HIGGINS left public testimony  open and stated that SSHB 54                                                               
would be held over.                                                                                                             
4:05:45 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  if OCS  was in  agreement with  the                                                               
proposed removal of notification to the court.                                                                                  
MS. LAWTON  said that  Department of  Health and  Social Services                                                               
was not  taking a position on  the proposed bill.   She said that                                                               
all  discovery produced  by OCS  was  provided to  all the  legal                                                               
parties through  the discovery process.   She opined  that judges                                                               
were  not  reviewing the  material  but  instead, relied  on  the                                                               
parties to identify the issues.                                                                                                 
4:07:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked  to clarify that an  attorney did not                                                               
have to solicit  information, but that the  parties were required                                                               
to supply  the information on a  regular basis.  He  asked if the                                                               
information was transferred in an expedited time frame.                                                                         
4:08:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LAWTON said  that the discovery material  was provided weekly                                                               
and  monthly  in  the  first  six months  of  a  case,  and  then                                                               
subsequently, it  was provided prior  to each  scheduled hearing.                                                               
She  said  that  relatives  were given  notification  related  to                                                               
hearings,  and in  the initial  30 day  search for  relatives and                                                               
other adult  family members, notice  was provided.   She reported                                                               
that  any denial  of placement  and  reason for  denial was  also                                                               
4:09:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT, referring to a  comment by Ms. Webb, asked                                                               
if the proposed CS was already standard practice.                                                                               
MS.  LAWTON  explained  that the  practice  related  to  diligent                                                               
search for  relatives "was  more clearly  defined by  the federal                                                               
government several years  ago."  She stated that  the new element                                                               
in  the  proposed  bill  was   the  specific  requirement  for  a                                                               
supervisor  to  inquire and  document  the  actions of  the  case                                                               
worker during the first 30 days.                                                                                                
4:10:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR asked  if the  requirement for  review by  a                                                               
supervisor  would eliminate  any oversight,  especially during  a                                                               
time of staff transition.                                                                                                       
4:11:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LAWTON replied  that, although it could  emphasize that area,                                                               
supervisors  were required  to monitor  compliance for  a lot  of                                                               
4:11:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT asked  if  there would  be any  additional                                                               
cost and duties for supervisors.                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON  replied that  she did  not anticipate  any additional                                                               
cost or work for the supervisors.                                                                                               
4:12:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HIGGINS reiterated  that Department  of Health  and Social                                                               
Services had not taken a position on the proposed bill.                                                                         
4:12:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HIGGINS said that SSHB 54 would be held over.                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB054 Sponsor Statement.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 SSHB 54 Version P.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 Blank CS Version R.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 Summary of Changes - SSHB 54 to CSHB 54 version R.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 Sectional Analysis.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 Fiscal Note - HB054SS-DHSS-FLSW-2-4-13.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 Supporting Documents - OCS Frontline Turnover Rate.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB054 Supporting Documents - Letter Presbyterian Hospitality House 2.2.13.pdf HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
HB 54
Presentation 2013 HSS Committee Feb.pptx HHSS 2/26/2013 3:00:00 PM
Alaska Citizen's Review Panel