Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 120

04/08/2013 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Scheduled But Not Heard
Moved CSHB 140(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 57(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HB  54-PLACEMENT OF A CHILD IN NEED OF AID                                                                       
2:43:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER 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                                                               
custody."  [Before the committee was CSSSHB 54(HSS).]                                                                           
2:44:19 PM                                                                                                                    
TOBY  SMITH,   Staff,  Representative  Les  Gara,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, speaking  on behalf of Representative  Gara, a joint                                                               
prime sponsor, paraphrased from  the following sectional analysis                                                               
provided in committee members' packets:                                                                                         
     Section 1.                                                                                                                 
     This section adds a new  section to AS 47.10, requiring                                                                    
     that a supervisor in the  Office of Children's Services                                                                    
     (OCS)   certify   in   writing  that   a   search   for                                                                    
     noncustodial   parents,  adult   family  members,   and                                                                    
     appropriate adult family friends  of the child has been                                                                    
     conducted. OCS must notify these  adults of the child's                                                                    
     removal within  30 days,  unless there  are extenuating                                                                    
     circumstances.  This  section   codifies  existing  OCS                                                                    
     policy related  to extended  family searches,  and adds                                                                    
     the requirement of supervisor certification.                                                                               
     Section 2.                                                                                                                 
     This section  adds a  reference to  the new  section of                                                                    
     statute established in Section  1. It requires that due                                                                    
     diligence  be  conducted   to  locate  extended  family                                                                    
     members before the child is placed in a foster home.                                                                       
     Section 3.                                                                                                                 
     This  section  allows  the department  to  provide  for                                                                    
     emergency  placement of  a child  while conducting  due                                                                    
MR. SMITH  summarized that the  legislation has no  fiscal impact                                                               
and would ensure that front-line  caseworkers perform all that is                                                               
required and can  be done for the best interest  of foster youth.                                                               
He clarified  that the legislation  doesn't change  any standards                                                               
but rather  ensures that proper  policies are being  performed by                                                               
requiring  that  a  supervisor sign-off  when  a  caseworker  has                                                               
performed a due diligence search in placement of foster youth.                                                                  
2:46:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  inquired as  to the  difference between                                                               
SSHB 54 and CSSSHB 54(HSS).                                                                                                     
The committee took an at-ease from 2:50 p.m. to 2:51 p.m.                                                                       
2:51:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SMITH  reviewed the changes  from SSHB 54 to  CSSSHB 54(HSS),                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
     Page 1, line 2:                                                                                                            
     Deletes "and family friends"                                                                                               
     This change  was made at  the request of the  Office of                                                                    
     Children's  Services  (OCS).  The inclusion  of  family                                                                    
     friends in AS 47.10.035  created a new requirement that                                                                    
     family  friends be  notified when  a  child is  removed                                                                    
     from their home. Determining  which family friends were                                                                    
     required to  be notified  of the  removal of  the child                                                                    
     would be  difficult to determine,  and would  create an                                                                    
     onerous  requirement for  OCS  to  comply with.  Family                                                                    
     friends will  still be  considered as  potential foster                                                                    
     Page 1, lines 6:                                                                                                           
     Deletes  "or  adult  family  friend"  for  the  reasons                                                                    
     stated above.                                                                                                              
     Page 1, line 10:                                                                                                           
     Deletes "and appropriate adult  family friends" for the                                                                    
     reasons state above.                                                                                                       
     Page 1, line 14:                                                                                                           
     Changes "certify" to "verify".                                                                                             
     This change was  made at the request of  OCS. OCS feels                                                                    
     that a  verification of a  family member search  can be                                                                    
     done  using  current  documentation  methods,  while  a                                                                    
     certification    may     have    required    additional                                                                    
     Page 2, lines 1-3:                                                                                                         
     Deletes   "The   information    provided   under   this                                                                    
     subsection  shall   be  submitted  to  the   court  for                                                                    
     consideration before  the next scheduled  hearing after                                                                    
     the  due  diligence period  specified  in  (a) of  this                                                                    
     This change was made at  the request of OCS. Submitting                                                                    
     this  information   to  the   court  was   a  redundant                                                                    
     requirement, as  all the information is  made available                                                                    
     to all parties as part of the discovery process.                                                                           
     Page 2, following line 19:                                                                                                 
     Inserts a  new section to  read: "Sec. 3.  AS 47.14.100                                                                    
     is amended by adding a  new subsection to read: (u) The                                                                    
     department  may provide  for emergency  placement of  a                                                                    
     child   while  conducting   due   diligence  under   AS                                                                    
     47.10.035 and (e) of this section."                                                                                        
     This  change was  made at  the request  of OCS  and the                                                                    
     Department of Law.  There was some concern  that Sec. 2                                                                    
     (e)  of the  bill  could prohibit  OCS  from making  an                                                                    
     emergency  placement  for  a child  the  day  they  are                                                                    
     removed from  their home. This change  clarifies that a                                                                    
     child  may  be  placed  in an  emergency  or  temporary                                                                    
     foster home  until a family  search has  been conducted                                                                    
     and a permanent placement has been approved.                                                                               
2:54:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  why   the  term  "certify"  was                                                               
changed to  "verify".   He also asked  whether "verify"  is being                                                               
used in the technical sense of  AS 09.63, which is a verification                                                               
that has  to be  underwrote.   The use of  "verify" per  AS 09.63                                                               
seems unnecessarily formalistic, he opined.                                                                                     
2:55:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTY LAWTON,  Director, Office  of Children's  Services (OCS),                                                               
Department of  Health and Social Services  (DHSS), clarified that                                                               
there  was no  intent for  the term  "verify" to  be defined  [as                                                               
under  AS  09.63].     The  change  was  simply   a  less  formal                                                               
description  of a  supervisor consulting  with his/her  staff and                                                               
using that consultation to affirm compliance with policy.                                                                       
CHAIR KELLER  announced that SSHB 54  would be held over  so that                                                               
the drafter could answer this question.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  that another  term  besides                                                               
"verify" be utilized otherwise there will be legal questions.                                                                   
2:57:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KELLER requested confirmation  that the term "noncustodial"                                                               
on page 1,  line 9, doesn't include those  parents whose parental                                                               
rights have been terminated.                                                                                                    
MS. LAWTON confirmed that would be the case.                                                                                    
CHAIR  KELLER inquired  as to  whether  CSSSHB 54(HSS)  restricts                                                               
OCS's  discretion   in  any   way  in   terms  of   [notifying  a                                                               
noncustodial parent of information about the foster child].                                                                     
MS. LAWTON replied no.                                                                                                          
2:58:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  inquired as to  how OCS finds  these adult                                                               
family friends.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG pointed out  that CSSSHB 54(HSS) doesn't                                                               
include  the  reference  to "adult  family  friends".    However,                                                               
CSSSHB 54(HSS) does use the  term "adult family members" although                                                               
it isn't defined.                                                                                                               
2:59:20 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE PIERSON, Staff, Representative  Steve Thompson, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, noted that  this question arose in  the House Health                                                               
and  Social Services  Standing Committee  and  it was  discovered                                                               
that these are close family  friends that aren't blood relations.                                                               
Ms.  Pierson surmised  that  these are  situations  in which  the                                                               
family friends would likely come forward and express interest.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX surmised,  in terms  of the  due diligence                                                               
aspect, that  OCS doesn't  have an obligation  to search  for the                                                               
adult family  friends of the child.   If the family  friends come                                                               
forward, then  they have standing  in regard to placement  of the                                                               
child, she surmised.                                                                                                            
MS. PIERSON related that's her understanding as well.                                                                           
MS.  LAWTON  clarified  that   this  proposed  language  wouldn't                                                               
require  OCS  to  provide formal  notification  to  adult  family                                                               
friends, but OCS's  policy for a due diligence  search means that                                                               
the agency identifies as it  is able family friends for potential                                                               
placement.   This  identification,  she noted,  is largely  based                                                               
upon information from the family  and the children.  The proposed                                                               
new  language  in  [CSSSHB  54(HSS)]  doesn't  require  that  OCS                                                               
provide  official/formal notification,  in  terms  of a  specific                                                               
3:02:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked  if this is the  latest version of                                                               
what was originally referred to as the blood relative statute.                                                                  
MS.  LAWTON  said she  is  unfamiliar  with that  prior  proposed                                                               
legislation, and thus is unable to answer that question.                                                                        
3:03:31 PM                                                                                                                    
AMANDA METIVIER,  Facing Foster  Care in Alaska,  related support                                                               
for SSHB 54, which creates  accountability on behalf of OCS staff                                                               
to ensure  compliance to  perform relative  searches early.   The                                                               
state  spends millions  to  house children  in  foster care  with                                                               
strangers who are licensed caregivers.   She opined that the best                                                               
thing  is to  search for  family members  first, place  them with                                                               
family,  and keep  children out  of  the system  and into  timely                                                               
permanence with  their families.   In response  to Representative                                                               
Gruenberg's question,  Ms. Metivier said she  didn't believe this                                                               
legislation  is a  result  of  the blood  relative  law, but  she                                                               
wasn't sure.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  informed the  committee that  the blood                                                               
relative  statute  was  enacted  in  the 1970s  as  a  result  of                                                               
requests  from Bush  legislators.   At  one  time, children  were                                                               
taken from village homes rather  than keeping them in the village                                                               
while the litigation occurred.                                                                                                  
CHAIR KELLER closed public testimony on SSHB 54.                                                                                
3:06:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, recalling  a situation  with which  he                                                               
was involved, questioned whether  SSHB 54 should include language                                                               
that  prevents  the  noncustodial   parent  whose  rights  aren't                                                               
terminated  from  having  custody/contact  in  certain  dangerous                                                               
3:08:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.   LAWTON   clarified   that   SSHB   54   addresses   initial                                                               
contact/notification within the  first 30 days that  the child or                                                               
relative [of a noncustodial parents]  has come into care and that                                                               
they  have  a  potential  legal   right  to  ask  for  placement.                                                               
Regardless of the  circumstances, in terms of past  bad acts, OCS                                                               
would  still be  required to  notify the  noncustodial parent  if                                                               
their rights had not been  terminated before.  However, OCS isn't                                                               
required  to  make placements,  which  is  something that  if  in                                                               
dispute would be addressed in the  court.  The OCS is required to                                                               
provide notification and [the noncustodial  parent] is allowed to                                                               
have  rights in  terms  of hearing  and potential  representation                                                               
from the  public defender's  office.   Ms. Lawton  specified that                                                               
OCS has discretion with regard to appropriateness of placement.                                                                 
3:10:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX emphasized her  belief that [a noncustodial                                                               
parent]  who  has  committed  horrendous  bad  acts  should  have                                                               
his/her  [parental]  rights  terminated.   If  [the  noncustodial                                                               
parent's]  rights   aren't  terminated,   then  it's   simply  an                                                               
allegation of bad acts.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  maintained that the  legislation should                                                               
include language allowing  OCS to seek permission  from the court                                                               
in an extraordinary circumstance not to notify the rapist.                                                                      
[CSSSHB 54(HSS) was held over.]                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB 34 ver. O Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 34
CSHB 34 ver. O Sectional.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 34
CSHB 34 Explanation of Changes.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 34
CSHB 34 ver. O.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 34
CSSSHB 54 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
CSSSHB 54 Sectional Analysis.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
CSSSHB 54 (HSS) Summary of Changes SSHB 54 to CSHB 54 version R.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
CSSSHB 54 (HSS) Ver. I.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
SSHB 54 Version P.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB 54 Version N.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB 54 Fiscal Note-HSS.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
CSSSHB 54 Supporting Document-OCS Frontline Turnover Rate.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
CSSSHB 54 Letter of Support-Presbyterian Hospitality House.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
CSSSHB 54 Letter of Support-Jennifer Payton.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 54
HB 57 Proposed Amendment O.1.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 57
2- SB 56 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/18/2013 9:00:00 AM
SB 56
4- CSSB 56(JUD) Section Analysis.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/18/2013 9:00:00 AM
SB 56
6 SB56 - Summary of Changes.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SFIN 3/18/2013 9:00:00 AM
SB 56
CSSB 56 (JUD) Amendment C.7.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SB 56
CSSB 56 (JUD) Amendment C.6.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SB 56
SB 56 Supporting Document-FBKS Newsminer Article.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SB 56
SB 56 Letter of Support-Mike Moore.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SB 56
SB 56 Letter of Support-ACLU.pdf HJUD 4/3/2013 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
SB 56
HB 140 Letter of Support-AK Chamber of Commerce.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 140
CSHB 57 Proposed Amendment O.1.pdf HJUD 4/8/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 57