Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/14/2005 01:30 PM HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 83 TERM. PARENTAL RTS/CINA/DELINQUENCY CASES TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 83 Out of Committee
*+ SB 82 CHILD PROTECTION INTERVIEW/TRANSPORT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           SB 82-CHILD PROTECTION INTERVIEW/TRANSPORT                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON announced SB 82 to be up for consideration.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:15:23 PM                                                                                                                    
STACIE KRALY, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Department of                                                                  
Law, (DOL) introduced SB 82.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     This  legislation would  allow  the DOL  and Office  of                                                                    
     Child Services  (OCS) to transport a  child for medical                                                                    
     examination and or  forensic interview without parental                                                                    
     consent in  cases where  the department  has reasonable                                                                    
     cause  to  suspect  that  a  child  has  been  severely                                                                    
     physically or  sexually abused. Interviews  of children                                                                    
     who appear  to have suffered severe  physical or sexual                                                                    
     abuse would be conducted  in an appropriate environment                                                                    
     that is not threatening to the child.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     It   is  not   always  possible   to  obtain   parental                                                                    
     cooperation to  transport a  child for  examination and                                                                    
     interview.  This  bill   considers  that  children  are                                                                    
     usually transported  to an  advocacy center,  which are                                                                    
     designed   to   be    safe,   neutral,   child-friendly                                                                    
     environments  where  children  can  be  interviewed  by                                                                    
     professionals  with special  training  in those  areas.                                                                    
     They  are  also  designed  to minimize  the  number  of                                                                    
     interviews in an  effort to minimize the  trauma of the                                                                    
     child  as   much  as   possible.  This   bill  includes                                                                    
     notifying  a  non-offending parent,  when  appropriate,                                                                    
     that  his child  is being  transported to  the advocacy                                                                    
     center  for an  interview.  There  are cases,  however,                                                                    
     when either  there is neither no  alleged non-offending                                                                    
     parent that is both parents  are involved in the abuse,                                                                    
     or  the department  is  unsure  that the  non-offending                                                                    
     parent  would be  cooperative  and we  do  not want  to                                                                    
     provide notice to them.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     As  the  statute currently  exists,  in  order for  the                                                                    
     department  or  the OCS  to  transport  a child  to  an                                                                    
     advocacy  center for  these interviews,  the department                                                                    
     theoretically  would have  to assume  emergency custody                                                                    
     of that  child and  we want to  avoid having  to assume                                                                    
     emergency  custody  in   those  instances  when,  after                                                                    
     interview, it is not warranted.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:17:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked  Ms. Kraly how the bill differs  from a case in                                                               
which  a law  enforcement officer  removes a  child from  what he                                                               
considers a dangerous situation and takes him to be evaluated.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KRALY said  SB 82  covers cases  in which  there are  no law                                                               
enforcement  personnel  available  to transport  children  to  be                                                               
evaluated.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked if this law  would give an OCS investigator the                                                               
same authority as a police officer.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. KRALY said SB 82 would give an investigator such authority.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON said  he is  uncomfortable with  the words  "without                                                               
notifying parents."  There is a difference  between notifying and                                                               
giving  permission and  OCS has  a responsibility  to notify  the                                                               
parent.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MARCIE KENNAI,  Department of Health and  Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
said  that the  current practice  is  to always  notify the  non-                                                               
offending  parent. Currently  DHSS has  the authority  to take  a                                                               
child to  a hospital in the  case of physical abuse,  but it does                                                               
not  have that  authority  in the  case of  sexual  abuse. he  is                                                               
concerned about  sexual abuse  cases since  research demonstrates                                                               
that most  children tend to  be telling  the truth and  sending a                                                               
child home to  that parent is a concern because  the child can be                                                               
coached on the way to the advocacy center.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:20:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON expressed his concern  about a parent not knowing the                                                               
location of his child. He said  even if the parent is the abuser,                                                               
the parent  ought to  be notified.  He said he  did not  like the                                                               
term  "non-offending parent"  because most  abused children  come                                                               
from single-family homes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KRALY said  SB 82  addresses Senator  Dyson's concern  about                                                               
notification and  permission and  referenced Version \A,  page 1,                                                               
lines 11-13, as follows:                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The department  shall notify the parents,  guardian, or                                                                    
     custodian of a  child as soon as  possible after taking                                                                    
     action under this subsection with regard to the child.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. KRALY  said the aforementioned  referent ensures  that notice                                                               
is provided,  but it does  not give the department  permission to                                                               
take a child.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:22:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked why a  definition of "child advocacy center" is                                                               
included.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KRALY  answered the  definition  was  added to  clarify  the                                                               
function of the center.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:24:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GREEN suggested  an amendment  to  the definition  might                                                               
satisfy  the committee.  She added  changing  the language  would                                                               
change  the focus  of  SB  82 since  its  primary  purpose is  to                                                               
expedite the process of getting children to safety.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENNAI agreed  with Senator Green. The intent of  the bill is                                                               
to enable the staff of OCS to do investigations.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN asked what would  happen if "without the permission                                                               
of the parents, guardian, or custodian." were deleted.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. KRALY answered  AS 47.17.064 already uses  that language with                                                               
respect to a  child believed to have been  physically abused. The                                                               
bill  expands   the  applicability   of  the  language   in  this                                                               
subsection  to include  children who  are believed  to have  been                                                               
sexually abused.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:28:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  remarked the  scope of  the following  language on                                                               
page 2 is very broad:                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The  state  and  the   department,  its  officers,  its                                                                    
     employees,  and its  agents are  not  liable for  civil                                                                    
     damages as a result of  actions taken or omissions that                                                                    
     occurred  in the  transportation authorized  under this                                                                    
     section,  except  for  conduct that  constitutes  gross                                                                    
     negligence.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
He  said it  seems to  confer  immunity on  a driver  who hits  a                                                               
pedestrian while transporting a child.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KRALY explained  the immunity  provision was  discussed with                                                               
special litigation attorneys. She  is unfamiliar with the wording                                                               
and would get back to the committee with an explanation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  asked if placing  a child on  a plane bound  for a                                                               
city  with a  regional center  would constitute  taking emergency                                                               
custody of that child.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:31:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KRALY  replied there are  specifically delineated  times when                                                               
the department  is allowed  to take  emergency custody.  She said                                                               
the DOL could  determine that an emergency  exists, take custody,                                                               
and  then later  explain it  to a  judge. The  DOL would  seek to                                                               
obtain emergency  custody to  take a  child out  of a  village or                                                               
rural area.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:32:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GREEN asked  what "not  liable  for civil  damages as  a                                                               
result  of  actions  taken  or omissions  that  occurred  in  the                                                               
transportation authorized under  this section" on page  2, line 5                                                               
means.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. KRALY  explained if the state  has custody of a  child and if                                                               
while transporting  the child  there is  an accident  involving a                                                               
state employee, the bill would  not subject the state employee to                                                               
liability.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN said that is why there is insurance.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KRALY  said  she  is unfamiliar  with  why  that  particular                                                               
wording is in SB 82.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:36:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON   said  he  had   assumed,  until   Senator  Elton's                                                               
questions,  that  this  section  was just  dealing  with  actions                                                               
pertinent to the  child in question. In light  of Senator Elton's                                                               
question it seems that it  applies to anyone or anything affected                                                               
during  transport. He  asked his  aid to  have legislative  legal                                                               
look at this section.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ROSEMARY   HAGEVIG,   Executive  Director,   Catholic   Community                                                               
Services (CCS),  testified on behalf  of the Safe  Child Advocacy                                                               
Center in  Juneau and the  Alaska Children's Alliance  (ACA). She                                                               
said  the ACA  chose  this year  to try  and  get child  advocacy                                                               
centers  codified in  law.  She  feels it  is  important for  her                                                               
organization to have  a statutory definition of  a child advocacy                                                               
center.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:39:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON referenced  an  amendment proposed  by  the CCS  and                                                               
asked Senator Green if she is  concerned about the wording in the                                                               
proposed amendment under findings, "no  child in Alaska should be                                                               
denied  access".  He  asked  Senator Green  if  she  thinks  this                                                               
implies  an  obligation of  the  state  to either  provide  these                                                               
everywhere or  provide transportation for  a child to  where they                                                               
might be.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN agreed that was a concern.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HAGEVIG  responded  child  advocacy  centers  are  currently                                                               
supported  in  Alaska  by  federal   funding  which  may  not  be                                                               
available  forever. She  hopes eventually  the state  might enter                                                               
the funding scheme for child protective services.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON said the wording would  have to be changed to get the                                                               
bill by Senator Green and himself.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:47:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT CALDER,  Fairbanks resident,  opposed SB 82  and SB  83. He                                                               
said the  use of  the term  non-offending parent  in the  bill is                                                               
flawed.  The term  "forensic  interview" is  not  defined in  the                                                               
legislation  and is  difficult  to find  elsewhere.  He does  not                                                               
understand  how  children  could  be  transported  and  tests  be                                                               
performed on  them with complete  disregard for some kind  of due                                                               
process with respect to their parents.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:52:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  CALDER shared  Senator Elton's  concern  about the  immunity                                                               
provision discussed earlier. He is  concerned with the use of the                                                               
term "emergency" on  page 2, lines 2-4, and said  if state agents                                                               
are transporting children, then  they are, by definition, dealing                                                               
with an emergency  and the fact that they  aren't telling parents                                                               
what they are doing with their  children does not change that. He                                                               
said  people  associated  with child  advocacy  centers  are  not                                                               
interested in  due process provisions and  people's rights should                                                               
not  be  taken  away  from   them  on  the  basis  of  somebody's                                                               
reasonable idea of whether there may be some wrongdoing.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:54:51 PM                                                                                                                    
BETTY ROLLINS said  this is the most dangerous bill  that she has                                                               
read in a  long time and urged  the committee not to  pass SB 82.                                                               
She  said that  lines 9  thorough 11  on page  1 wrongfully  give                                                               
police  officers the  authority to  conduct forensic  interviews.                                                               
She remarked there  was a case in Ohio wherein  twenty girls were                                                               
given a medical exam against their will because they were                                                                       
suspected of being sexually abused and their parents could do                                                                   
nothing because the state had a law similar to SB 82.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:56:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON said SB 82 would be held until the next committee                                                                   
meeting.                                                                                                                        

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