Legislature(2019 - 2020)CAPITOL 106

04/11/2019 08:00 AM TRIBAL AFFAIRS

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08:03:25 AM Start
08:03:57 AM HR7
08:27:47 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
           HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON TRIBAL AFFAIRS                                                                          
                         April 11, 2019                                                                                         
                           8:03 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bryce Edgmon, Vice Chair                                                                                         
Representative John Lincoln                                                                                                     
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 7                                                                                                          
Urging the governor to continue to fully implement the Alaska                                                                   
Tribal Child Welfare Compact and build ongoing partnerships                                                                     
between the state and tribal governments.                                                                                       
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HR 7                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: SUPPORT AK TRIBAL CHILD WELFARE COMPACT                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): TRIBAL AFFAIRS                                                                                                      
04/10/19       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/10/19       (H)       TRB                                                                                                    
04/11/19       (H)       TRB AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
GRACE SINGH, Staff                                                                                                              
Representative Tiffany Zulkosky                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced HR 7 on behalf of the House                                                                   
Special Committee on Tribal Affairs, the prime sponsor.                                                                         
FRANCINE EDDY JONES, Director                                                                                                   
Tribal Family & Youth Services                                                                                                  
Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HR 7.                                                                    
ERIN DOUGHERTY LYNCH, Senior Staff Attorney                                                                                     
Native American Rights Fund                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided  clarification on a question about                                                              
the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact.                                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
8:03:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TIFFANY ZULKOSKY called  the  House Special  Committee on                                                              
Tribal Affairs  meeting to order  at 8:03 a.m.   Representatives                                                                
Talerico, Kopp, Ortiz,  Vance, and Zulkosky were  present at the                                                                
call to order.                                                                                                                  
          HR 7-SUPPORT AK TRIBAL CHILD WELFARE COMPACT                                                                      
8:03:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY announced  that the only order  of business would                                                                
be HOUSE RESOLUTION  NO. 7, "Urging the governor  to continue to                                                                
fully  implement the  Alaska  Tribal Child  Welfare Compact  and                                                                
build  ongoing   partnerships  between  the  state   and  tribal                                                                
8:04:15 AM                                                                                                                    
GRACE  SINGH,  Staff,  Representative Tiffany  Zulkosky,  Alaska                                                                
State  Legislature, said  HR  7 encourages  Governor Michael  J.                                                                
Dunleavy  to fully  implement  the Alaska  Tribal Child  Welfare                                                                
Compact.    She  said   HR  7  recommends  the  continuation  of                                                                
partnerships  between  the  State of  Alaska  (SOA)  and  tribal                                                                
governments.    She  said  these partnerships  strengthen  child                                                                
welfare services  in  the best  interests of  Alaska's children.                                                                
She  remarked that  the  protection and  wellbeing  of the  next                                                                
generation of Alaskans is  important to every community, family,                                                                
and leader  in Alaska.   She referenced a  previous presentation                                                                
before the committee on the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact.                                                                
She called the  compact "a historic agreement, the  first of its                                                                
kind between a state and  tribal governments."  She said that in                                                                
times  of  decreased  SOA  spending, it  is  important  to  form                                                                
partnerships  based   on  mutual  responsibility  to   a  shared                                                                
constituency  in order  to  strengthen  program delivery  across                                                                
Alaska, and particularly in its most remote areas.  She said all                                                                
children deserve to be protected, loved, and nurtured, no matter                                                                
where in Alaska they live.                                                                                                      
MS.  SINGH   said  the  Alaska  Tribal   Child  Welfare  Compact                                                                
formalizes a  relationship intended  to maximize  resources that                                                                
support child welfare  services across Alaska.   She stated that                                                                
tribal involvement and  intervention in child  welfare cases has                                                                
proven to be more effective and responsive to the needs of rural                                                                
communities.   She  said  SOA and  tribal  governments can  work                                                                
together to  provide  a holistic  approach to  serving families,                                                                
foster parents, and children.                                                                                                   
8:06:42 AM                                                                                                                    
FRANCINE EDDY  JONES, Director, Tribal Family  & Youth Services,                                                                
Central Council  of Tlingit and  Haida Indian Tribes  of Alaska,                                                                
introduced  herself in  Tlingit  and  relayed  her personal  and                                                                
professional background.  She  said she has served  for 26 years                                                                
in her current position with  the Central Council of Tlingit and                                                                
Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA).  She said she is partly                                                                
testifying  on  behalf  of   her  friend  and  colleague  Nicole                                                                
Borromeo.  She said she has worked with the federal Indian Child                                                                
Welfare Act (ICWA)  since its inception in 1979  and shared that                                                                
she  is   very  passionate   about  it.     She   discussed  the                                                                
opportunities she has had to partner  with SOA and its Office of                                                                
Children's Services (OCS), as well  as to correspond with tribes                                                                
in other  states and  share experiences related  to implementing                                                                
ICWA.   She said  CCTHITA has been  fortunate to partner  for 19                                                                
years with Casey Family  Programs, a private foundation that has                                                                
provided  guidance,  technical   assistance,  opportunities  for                                                                
training, and opportunities to  connect with other tribes across                                                                
the nation.                                                                                                                     
MS.  JONES  referenced previous  testimony  by Valerie  Davidson                                                                
about the Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact.  She extolled Ms.                                                                
Davidson's leadership  in helping to  move the  compact forward.                                                                
She  said  many   of  the  people  who  were   part  of  compact                                                                
negotiations have been  in partnership with SOA  for many years.                                                                
She  noted that  CCTHITA has  partnered with  SOA since  1984 on                                                                
child welfare and in efforts  to improve services.  She remarked                                                                
that 72  percent of CCTHITA's caseload  is in Juneau.   She said                                                                
the Alaska State  Legislature honored the work of  tribes in the                                                                
mid-1980s.   She  continued,  "We were  written  into the  state                                                                
budget as a [Budget Request Unit] BRU  back then."  She said the                                                                
relationship between  tribes and SOA  evolved over  the decades.                                                                
She  again  recognized  Ms.  Davidson  for  her  work  as  then-                                                                
Commissioner of  the  Department of  Health and  Social Services                                                                
(DHSS) in  taking  the relationship "to  the  next level."   She                                                                
named other  tribal organizations that have  been in partnership                                                                
with SOA  since 1984:  Maniilaq  Association, the Association of                                                                
Village Council Presidents (AVCP),  and Tanana Chiefs Conference                                                                
(TCC).   She noted that  larger organizations like  CCTHITA have                                                                
larger caseloads.                                                                                                               
8:11:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  JONES  referenced  previous   testimony  heard  before  the                                                                
committee on the Alaska Tribal  Child Welfare Compact.  She said                                                                
she has worked on the compact  since its inception and has had a                                                                
significant role in participating in the  process.  She said the                                                                
topic of  what a  successful tribal child welfare  program would                                                                
look like is a  frequent piece of conversation in tribal caucus,                                                                
especially  in  how it  would  compare  to  SOA's child  welfare                                                                
program.  She stated that  SOA's child welfare system is heavily                                                                
focuses  on  intervention.   She  said  OCS  intervenes when  it                                                                
receives notice that  a child is being abused  or neglected, and                                                                
frequently removes  children from  their homes.    She commented                                                                
that often when it  comes to Alaska Native children, the problem                                                                
is neglect  rather than abuse.   She  said that is  important to                                                                
remember.  She remarked that  tribes are often able to ascertain                                                                
that a family  is struggling before an official  notice has been                                                                
issued.   She stated  that tribes  and tribal  organizations are                                                                
ready  and available  to deploy  wraparound services  to prevent                                                                
family breakup.   As an example, she compared the  model used by                                                                
CCTHITA as  one which  goes "further  upstream" rather  than one                                                                
which waits for a  child to be brought to  the attention of SOA.                                                                
She  discussed  the  evidence-based "structured  decision-making                                                                
tool" used  by CCTHITA  to assess potentially  at-risk families.                                                                
She said the  tool allows them to  intervene early with families                                                                
that  may be  dealing  with substance  abuse,  trauma, or  other                                                                
issues.  She noted that AVCP is rolling out a similar tool.  She                                                                
remarked that the child  welfare systems of tribes involved with                                                                
the compact are  of varying levels of  sophistication.  She said                                                                
some are in their infancy, some  are developing, and some   like                                                                
CCTHITA's  are complex.                                                                                                         
8:15:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  JONES   stated  that  SOA  and   tribal  governments  think                                                                
differently and  measure success differently.   She said  161 of                                                                
the 229  federally recognized tribes are  directly or indirectly                                                                
participating in  the compact.   She commented on  the compact's                                                                
"incredible  geographic reach."    She  said  OCS has  struggled                                                                
historically to service  the entire state.  She  stated that the                                                                
ability to  communicate in real-time  with each region  and sub-                                                                
region  would be  beneficial  to Alaska.    She said  meaningful                                                                
collaboration and  cooperation between SOA  and the  tribes will                                                                
allow  for  participating  tribes   to  leverage  SOA  resources                                                                
associated with the  Title IV-E program.   She noted that  11 of                                                                
the  18 tribes  and  tribal organizations  participating in  the                                                                
compact are currently in a pass-through agreement with SOA under                                                                
Title  IV-E.   She  said  this allows  those  tribes and  tribal                                                                
organizations  to  leverage  SOA   dollars  that  are  federally                                                                
reimbursed  to  SOA   in  order  to  build   up  tribal  welfare                                                                
structures.   She  said  CCTHITA has  been  operated under  that                                                                
agreement  for nearly  20  years.   She  remarked  that this  is                                                                
another   example  of   the  long-term   nature   of  SOA-tribal                                                                
partnerships related to child welfare.                                                                                          
8:17:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. JONES  stated that  anecdotal evidence suggests  that Alaska                                                                
will meet the ICWA's placement preferences in higher percentages                                                                
under the compact.   She relayed that she  had participated in a                                                                
recent conference  call with  Natalie Norberg, Director  of OCS,                                                                
during which  Ms. Norberg  informed tribal  representatives that                                                                
Alaska is ranked highest in the nation for placing children with                                                                
relatives.  Ms. Jones said  it is "pretty incredible" for Alaska                                                                
to be a  national leader, and that it is  reflective of the hard                                                                
work done to implement ICWA in Alaska and the priority placed on                                                                
MS. JONES  relayed that  she was one  of 1,600  participants who                                                                
attended the  National Indian Child  Welfare Association (NICWA)                                                                
annual conference to celebrate 40 years  of ICWA.  She reflected                                                                
on the work that has been done in that long stretch of time.                                                                    
MS. JONES  expressed that  she is  confident that  the committee                                                                
appreciates the  compact  and its  potential for  success.   She                                                                
extolled  committee members  for thinking  up ways  to move  the                                                                
compact forward.   She remarked that working on  the compact has                                                                
been  a highlight  of her  career.   She  praised  the creative,                                                                
innovative, and cost-effective approach laid out in the compact.                                                                
She said  it is  important to  note that  the tribes  and tribal                                                                
organizations involved in  the compact survive  on ICWA funding,                                                                
which  has  been  stagnant  for  approximately 24  years.    She                                                                
discussed the small amounts of  money doled out to tribes across                                                                
the state and noted that the amount is not enough to pay a child                                                                
welfare employee.  She spoke  to the importance of SOA resources                                                                
in supporting the compact.  She  noted that she had a PowerPoint                                                                
presentation  that is  also  available as  a  handout.   At  the                                                                
recommendation  of  Chair  Zulkosky,   Ms.  Jones  forewent  the                                                                
8:20:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP asked  a question about the  timeline of the                                                                
Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact.                                                                                            
MS. JONES  said the  compact was  signed in  October 2018.   She                                                                
stated that there is  no end date unless it  is rescinded or the                                                                
administration elects to end it.                                                                                                
CHAIR ZULKOSKY recalled that the  compact was signed in December                                                                
2017, and, to fully implement  it, certain provisions need to be                                                                
reconsidered this coming summer.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP asked what  parts of the compact  need to be                                                                
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  stated that  an exact answer  will be  found and                                                                
circulated to members of the committee.                                                                                         
MS. JONES said that Ms. Borromeo, who is general counsel for the                                                                
Alaska Federation of Natives, would know  the answer.  She named                                                                
"waiver  of sovereign  immunity"  as one  topic  that "has  come                                                                
back."  She noted  that the tribes and tribal organizations that                                                                
signed the compact agreed to "the terms of the limited waiver."                                                                 
CHAIR ZULKOSKY referred the question  to Erin Dougherty Lynch of                                                                
the Native American Rights Fund.                                                                                                
8:23:11 AM                                                                                                                    
ERIN  DOUGHERTY LYNCH,  Senior Staff  Attorney,  Native American                                                                
Rights Fund,  said it is  her understanding that nothing  in the                                                                
compact itself requires renegotiation.  She  noted that there is                                                                
some language  in the  service support funding  agreement (SSFA)                                                                
that was revisited last fall.   She said it is her understanding                                                                
that the language was agreed to  and documents were signed.  She                                                                
stated that  SOA and the  tribes get  together a few  times each                                                                
year to  negotiate and revisit the documents  they have created.                                                                
She said, "The documents are open in the sense that if something                                                                
is not  working, both  sides can  agree to  revisit them."   She                                                                
reiterated her understanding that the  items that were revisited                                                                
have been agreed to and "everyone is moving forward."                                                                           
8:24:52 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  thanked Ms.  Lynch for  her clarification.   She                                                                
referred to  a "frequently asked questions  document" [hard copy                                                                
included in committee  packet].  She stated  that looking toward                                                                
2020, the framework  would be  to revisit the capacity of tribes                                                                
and possibly increasing  scopes of work in  partnership with the                                                                
MS. LYNCH  answered,  Exactly."   She  said different  scopes of                                                                
work were  developed during the  negotiations between co-signers                                                                
and SOA.  She stated that every time the two sides come together                                                                
to negotiate, there  is frequent discussion about  new scopes of                                                                
work.   She  said part  of that  conversation is  each co-signer                                                                
deciding for  itself whether it  has the  capacity to take  on a                                                                
scope of  work.  She  clarified that the co-signers are  all "in                                                                
different  places"  with  their  child  welfare  programs,  with                                                                
varying capacities  to take on  responsibilities.  She  said the                                                                
scopes of  work are jointly developed and  it is up  to each co-                                                                
signer to decide if it wants to take on the scope of work.                                                                      
8:26:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  noted that  the  timeline  for the  compact  is                                                                
contained within the  document provided by Ms. Jones.   She said                                                                
she would ensure each committee member has  a copy.  She thanked                                                                
Ms. Jones for her testimony.                                                                                                    
8:27:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY  stated  that   due  to  time  constraints,  the                                                                
committee  would be  unable to  hold  public testimony  on HR  7                                                                
today.  Testifiers were invited  to rejoin the next committee at                                                                
a future hearing.                                                                                                               
[HR 7 was held over.]                                                                                                           
8:27:47 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the                                                                       
Special Committee on Tribal Affairs meeting was adjourned at                                                                    
8:28 a.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
December 2018 Update on AK Tribal Child Welfare Compact.pdf HTRB 4/11/2019 8:00:00 AM
December 2019 AK Tribal Child Welfare Compact Update 4.11.2019
AK Tribal Child Welfare Compact Presentation 4.11.2019.pdf HTRB 4/11/2019 8:00:00 AM
AK Tribal Child Welfare Compact Presentation 4.11.2019
FAQ - Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact 4.11.2019.pdf HTRB 4/11/2019 8:00:00 AM
AK Tribal Child Welfare Compact FAQ 4.11.2019
Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact Sponsor Statement .pdf HTRB 4/11/2019 8:00:00 AM
Geraghty.4.14.2014.pdf HTRB 4/11/2019 8:00:00 AM