Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 120

04/09/2013 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HCS CSSB 56(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          HB 54 - PLACEMENT OF A CHILD IN NEED OF AID                                                                       
1:52:37 PM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR LYNN 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).]                                                                           
1:53:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LES  GARA, Alaska  State Legislature,  speaking as                                                               
one  of  the  joint  prime  sponsors  of  SSHB  54,  offered  his                                                               
understanding  that   [Section  1   of  CSSSHB   54(HSS)]  merely                                                               
duplicates  language  contained  in   the  Office  of  Children's                                                               
Services' (OCS's)  policy manual.   He then  provided information                                                               
regarding HB 54, [which had  previously been replaced by SSHB 54,                                                               
which had  in turn been  amended by  the House Health  and Social                                                               
Services Standing Committee].                                                                                                   
[Note   to  the   reader:     the  language   in  Section   1  of                                                               
CSSSHB 54(HSS), the version currently  before the House Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee, stipulates that  a supervisor shall verify in                                                               
writing that  the social worker  has -  within 30 days  after the                                                               
removal and subsequent placement of  a child who has been removed                                                               
from  his/her home  and  been placed  in  out-of-home care  under                                                               
AS 47.10 and AS  47.14 - exercised due  diligence in identifying,                                                               
locating,  and notifying  noncustodial parents  and adult  family                                                               
members   regarding   that   child's   removal   and   subsequent                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA, noting that a  question was posed during the                                                               
prior hearing on  CSSSHB 54(HSS) regarding the  term, "verify" as                                                               
used in Section  1's proposed new AS 47.10.035(b),  referred to a                                                               
memorandum  from Legislative  Legal and  Research Services  dated                                                               
April  9, 2013,  [indicating that  the  court would  look to  the                                                               
context  and common  usage of  that  term].   He added,  "Doesn't                                                               
require any wax  seal, doesn't require that you  burn your finger                                                               
and put an imprint  on the paper; ... they just put  a check on a                                                               
box inside  a file,  says, 'I've  spoken to  the social  worker -                                                               
they've done  their work.'"   He relayed  that the  rationale for                                                               
adopting the  statutory changes proposed  by [CSSSHB  54(HSS)] is                                                               
to  address  the  high employee-turnover  rate  within  the  OCS,                                                               
adding,  "I  want to  make  sure  that  there's  a check  on  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  mentioned that during that  prior hearing on                                                               
the  bill, questions  unrelated  to  [CSSSHB 54(HSS)'s]  proposed                                                               
statutory  changes also  arose,  and shared  his understanding  -                                                               
based  on   information  he'd  received  in   response  to  those                                                               
questions - that under current  law the OCS provides notification                                                               
to  family members;  that those  notifications don't  include the                                                               
physical address of the child; and  that the OCS won't allow what                                                               
he termed  a "crummy"  non-custodial parent  in whose  home would                                                               
not constitute  the right placement,  to become a  foster parent.                                                               
In conclusion,  Representative Gara  stressed that  existing law,                                                               
rather than  the bill, already outlines  who, specifically, shall                                                               
be notified.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG,  referring  to   an  e-mail  from  the                                                               
director of the  OCS dated [April 9, 2013,]  included in members'                                                               
packets, added his  understanding that the OCS does  not notify a                                                               
parent who's already had his/her  parental rights terminated.  He                                                               
also  relayed   that  the  questions   he'd  had   regarding  the                                                               
appropriateness of  some of CSSSHB 54(HSS)'s  proposed language -                                                               
specifically,  the second  usage of  the word,  "and" on  page 1,                                                               
line  7,  the  words,  "conducting  due  diligence  required"  on                                                           
page 2, line  3, and the words,  "an adult [A] family  friend" on                                                           
page 2,  line 11 -  have all  been answered to  his satisfaction.                                                               
In  conclusion, he  said he  has no  amendments to  offer and  he                                                               
supports the bill.                                                                                                              
VICE CHAIR  LYNN, after ascertaining  that no one else  wished to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SSHB 54.                                                                                    
2:02:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTY LAWTON,  Director, Central  Office, Office  of Children's                                                               
Services (OCS), Department of Health  and Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
in response to questions, explained  that the changes proposed by                                                               
[CSSSHB   54(HSS)]  wouldn't   significantly  impact   the  OCS's                                                               
workload because  consultation between  social workers  and their                                                               
supervisors already occurs regularly,  and such consultations are                                                               
already being  documented in terms of  confirming compliance with                                                               
state and  federal law; proffered  that the bill  would "enhance"                                                               
and  clarify  how  that  documentation   occurs  with  regard  to                                                               
ensuring the  timeliness of required searches;  predicted that no                                                               
additional resources  would be needed  as a result of  the bill's                                                               
passage; pointed out that the  30-day timeframe by which a social                                                               
worker must exercise due diligence  in identifying, locating, and                                                               
notifying  noncustodial  parents  and adult  family  members,  is                                                               
already part of  federal law; and reiterated that  the bill would                                                               
merely  require a  supervisor to  specifically document  that the                                                               
social worker  did indeed exercise  due diligence as  required by                                                               
law and [outlined in] policy.                                                                                                   
VICE CHAIR  LYNN said  he likes  the bill,  and would  be holding                                                               
[CSSSHB 54(HSS)] over in order  to provide members with more time                                                               
to consider it further.                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 3 Proposed Amendment U.2.pdf HJUD 4/9/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 3
HB 3 Proposed Amendment U.1.pdf HJUD 4/9/2013 1:00:00 PM
HB 3
CSSB 56 (JUD) Amendment C.9.pdf HJUD 4/9/2013 1:00:00 PM
SB 56