Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/06/2012 01:30 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES


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01:31:27 PM Start
01:31:38 PM SB134
02:14:29 PM Presentations: Citizen Review Panel & Office of Children
03:07:40 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Location Change --
*+ SB 134 CHILD SUPPORT AWARDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Presentations:
+ - Citizen Review Panel, Sylvan Robb, M.A. TELECONFERENCED
+ - Office of Children Services, Christy Lawton, TELECONFERENCED
Director
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                    
                        February 6, 2012                                                                                        
                           1:31 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bettye Davis, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Dennis Egan                                                                                                             
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                                                                            
Senator Kevin Meyer                                                                                                             
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATIONS: CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL & OFFICE OF CHILDREN                                                                        
SERVICES                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 134                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to child support awards; and repealing Rule                                                                    
90.3, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 134                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CHILD SUPPORT AWARDS                                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) KOOKESH                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
01/17/12       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/6/12                                                                                
01/17/12       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/17/12       (S)       HSS, JUD                                                                                               
02/06/12       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DOROTHY SHOCKLEY, Staff                                                                                                         
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 134 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
STACY STEINBERG, Chief Assistant Attorney General                                                                               
Office of Attorney General                                                                                                      
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Addressed legal issues in SB 134.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
NANCY MEADE, General Counsel                                                                                                    
Alaska Court System                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 134.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT CAULDER, representing himself                                                                                             
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Spoke in favor of SB 134.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN HEUER, Chair                                                                                                              
Citizen Review Panel (CRP)                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information about CRP.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTY LAWTON, Director                                                                                                        
Office of Children Services (OCS)                                                                                               
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Gave a presentation on OCS.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:31:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BETTYE DAVIS  called the Senate Health  and Social Services                                                             
Standing Committee meeting  to order at 1:31 p.m.  Present at the                                                               
call to order were Senators  Egan, Meyer, Ellis, and Chair Davis.                                                               
Senator Dyson arrived shortly thereafter.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                  SB 134-CHILD SUPPORT AWARDS                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
1:31:38 PM                                                                                                                    
Chair Davis announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
SB 134, Child Support Awards.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:35:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ALBERT  KOOKESH, sponsor of  SB 134, explained  that this                                                               
measure would  put the Child  Support Civil Rule  90.3 guidelines                                                               
into statute. Alaska  Supreme Court Civil Rule bills  can only be                                                               
changed every four years. One  of the advantages of putting Child                                                               
Support  Civil Rule  90.3  into statue  is that  it  can then  be                                                               
changed at  the whim  of the legislature.  He summarized  that SB                                                               
134 addresses the  amount of money a child  could receive through                                                               
custody cases.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DOROTHY SHOCKLEY, staff to Senator  Kookesh, reported that SB 134                                                               
changes  how child  support is  allocated  from a  percentage-of-                                                               
income system  for only  the non-custodial  parent, to  an income                                                               
shares model where both parents'  income is used to calculate the                                                               
amount of child support. The  bill came about due to frustrations                                                               
following the statewide review process  of Rule 90.3 in 2008. Ms.                                                               
Shockley related that she was  advised to put the guidelines into                                                               
statute  so that  people could  have a  voice in  custody support                                                               
hearings.  The  Alaska  Supreme  Court admitted  that  it  was  a                                                               
substantive law and could be replaced any time.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHOCKELY added  that Senator  Kookesh's office  has received                                                               
many calls from  people who feel there are  problems with custody                                                               
procedures  and  guidelines.  It   was  suggested  that  the  new                                                               
guidelines use the income shares  model. She noted that 35 states                                                               
consider the income of both  parents in determining child support                                                               
payments. She  said the main goal  of the legislation is  to give                                                               
people  a voice  and  to be  fair,  as well  as  provide for  the                                                               
child's best interest.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:38:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS requested a sectional analysis.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHOCKLEY  described the  information in  the sections  of the                                                               
bill. She related that Section  25.28.010 provides guidelines for                                                               
calculations regarding  primary physical  custody cases.  It also                                                               
contains  an economic  table.  Section  25.28.020 provides  child                                                               
support  guidelines  for  shared,  divided,  and  hybrid  custody                                                               
awards. Section 25.28.030  provides for a margin of  error in the                                                               
economic table where exceptions to  support awards may be needed.                                                               
Section  25.28.040   addresses  health  care   expenses.  Section                                                               
25.28.050  provides confidentiality  annual income  documentation                                                               
requirements.  Section 25.28.060  provides  for travel  expenses.                                                               
Section 25.28.070 provides modification  to child support awards.                                                               
Section   25.28.080   addresses  third-party   custody.   Section                                                               
25.28.090   provides  for   dependent  tax   deductions.  Section                                                               
25.28.300 is the definitions section.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:42:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHOCKLEY read from the following sponsor statement:                                                                         
     SB 134 puts the Child Support Civil Rule 90.3                                                                          
     guidelines into  statute. In  1987, the  Alaska Supreme                                                                  
     Court  enacted  Civil  Rule  90.3.  The  Supreme  Court                                                                  
     admitted   this  was   a  substantive   law  that   the                                                                  
     Legislature could replace at any  time. In the 25 years                                                                  
     since  then, the  legislature  has  not replaced  civil                                                                  
     rule 90.3  with an  actual law.  This bill  proposes to                                                                  
     correct that long-standing deficiency.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     One of the major problems with having the child                                                                          
     support guidelines  set by a  court rule is  the people                                                                  
     affected  by  current  guidelines   have  not  had  the                                                                  
     opportunity to speak to the  individuals with the power                                                                  
     to  make changes.  Instead every  four  years they  are                                                                  
     encouraged to write letters or  testify before a review                                                                  
     committee  made  up  of lawyers  and  judges  who  then                                                                  
     submit  their  recommendations  to  the  Supreme  Court                                                                  
     Justices who  make the final  decisions. With  the rule                                                                  
     in statute,  individuals will  have the  opportunity to                                                                  
     speak to lawmakers who have  the power to make changes.                                                                  
     Proposals to  amend can be  made in the  future through                                                                  
     the legislative process.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The bill proposes enactment of the current rule into                                                                     
     statute  with the  exception of  how the  child support                                                                  
     obligation is calculated.  Currently, the non-custodial                                                                  
     parent's support  obligation is based solely  on his or                                                                  
     her  income, without  regard to  what the  other parent                                                                  
     makes. With this  bill it will be changed  to an income                                                                  
     shares model  which calculates support as  the share of                                                                  
     each  parent's  income   estimated  allocation  to  the                                                                  
     child, if the original household were intact.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     According to 2005 statistics (Legislative Research                                                                       
     Report, November 2010):                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Twenty four (24) states establish their child support                                                                    
     guidelines statutorily through  their legislature while                                                                  
     16  states use  court rule  only, and  11 states  use a                                                                  
     combination of rule, commission and or agency.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Thirty five (35) states consider the income of both                                                                      
     parents in determining child support payments.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     SB 134 changes the word 'court' to 'tribunal' in some                                                                    
     cases  back  to 'court'  and  adds  number (6)  to  the                                                                  
     definition  in   Sec.  25.28.300  (page  18)   to  read                                                                    
        'tribunal means the superior court or the child                                                                       
     support services agency created in AS 25.27.010.'                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:45:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SHOCKELY noted the removal of  a section which ordered one or                                                               
more  grandparent  to  pay  child   support.  Also  removed  were                                                               
sections  that  dealt  with  the   support  order  form  and  the                                                               
commentary.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:47:18 PM                                                                                                                    
STACY  STEINBERG, Chief  Assistant  Attorney  General, Office  of                                                               
Attorney General,  Department of  Law, addressed legal  issues in                                                               
SB 134.  She stated that  the Department of  Law does not  take a                                                               
position on the  bill. She explained that  Section 25.28.040, the                                                               
health   care  expenses   section,  requires   a  definition   of                                                               
"reasonable   cost",  which   is   necessary   to  meet   federal                                                               
regulations.  One  option  is  to  define  it  as  "the  cost  of                                                               
insurance does not exceed 5 percent  of the net monthly income of                                                               
the parent required to purchase insurance."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:49:44 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  STEINBERG addressed  a federal  provision which  states that                                                               
child  support   cannot  be  retroactively  modified,   which  is                                                               
addressed  in  two sections  of  SB  134, Section  25.28.050  and                                                               
Section 25.28.070.  The first  instance refers  to when  a parent                                                               
can  request  information  about  the other  parent's  income.  A                                                               
sentence on  page 15, in lines  29 - 31,  "If a party has  made a                                                               
reasonable  demand for  documentation  under  this subsection,  a                                                               
tribunal  may modify  a child  support arrearage  retroactively,"                                                               
violates  a   federal  law  on  retroactivity.   She  recommended                                                               
deleting that sentence.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEINBERG  said  the second  instance  where  child  support                                                               
cannot be retroactively modified is on  page 16, lines 24 and 25.                                                               
There is a violation of federal  law in the sentence, "A tribunal                                                               
may not  modify a child  support arrearage  retroactively, except                                                               
as  authorized by  AS 25.27.1666(d)  and  AS 25.28.050(b)."  This                                                               
could be corrected by deleting "and AS 25.28.050(b)."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STEINBERG  addressed  the advantages  of  having  a  delayed                                                               
effective date of  about a year. The new  legislation changes the                                                               
formula for  calculating child  support. Potentially,  this could                                                               
result in  a large  number of modifications.  She spoke  of court                                                               
modifications that would be necessary.  There are currently about                                                               
20,000 existing child support orders,  of which half are expected                                                               
to request  some sort  of modification. Of  those, half  would be                                                               
court modifications and would be an  increase of up to 5,000 from                                                               
700  a year.  Regulations would  also need  to be  changed, which                                                               
would  take  time.  She  suggested   a  one-year  delay  for  the                                                               
effective date.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:55:37 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  STEINBERG addressed  a fourth  issue.  Federal law  requires                                                               
revisions to Child Support Guidelines  every four years to ensure                                                               
that  guidelines  meet  current  regulations,  reality,  and  the                                                               
economy.  The  revision process  is  currently  conducted by  the                                                               
Court System;  however, if SB  134 becomes law, the  Court System                                                               
would no longer be responsible  for that service. That is another                                                               
issue to consider before passage of SB 134.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:57:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS asked if the sponsor agrees with the changes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOOKESH said he did agree  with the changes and pointed out                                                               
that amendments  addressing the changes  are forthcoming.  He had                                                               
no  problem  with  a  delayed effective  date.  He  stressed  the                                                               
importance of the income share  model, which is the ultimate goal                                                               
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SHOCKLEY  explained the fiscal notes.  Child Support Services                                                               
will need  an additional  24 temporary  staff for  a total  of $6                                                               
million, $4 million  of which would be from  federal receipts and                                                               
$2 million  in general  fund. The Department  of Law  fiscal note                                                               
shows an increase  in 19 temporary staff the first  year in order                                                               
to process modifications.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:00:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS  requested more information  about the effect  of the                                                               
bill on Court System positions.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
NANCY MEADE,  General Counsel, Alaska  Court System,  addressed a                                                               
potential  fiscal   note  from  the  Alaska   Court  System.  She                                                               
anticipated  a  need  for  temporary  employees  to  address  the                                                               
expected influx of parental requests  for modification of custody                                                               
orders.  She  said she  thought  changing  the current  four-year                                                               
review  responsibility  to the  legislature  would  not save  the                                                               
court money  because it  does not cost  money. The  Chief Justice                                                               
appoints  an   existing  sitting   judge  to  chair   the  review                                                               
committee,  which   is  comprised  of  six   or  seven  volunteer                                                               
attorneys.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:04:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS  suggested that the amendments  could be incorporated                                                               
into a new  Senate Health and Social  Services Standing Committee                                                               
CS, which would give departments time to work on fiscal notes.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:05:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT CAULDER,  testifying on behalf  of himself, spoke  in favor                                                               
of the bill. He shared  a negative personal experience related to                                                               
child custody. He  referred to a letter from Beth  Adams which he                                                               
said  contains excellent  suggestions.  He thought  SB 134  would                                                               
correct  some of  the problems  with the  guidelines and  provide                                                               
greater justice  and fairness.  He suggested  a revision  on page                                                               
18, lines 18 and 26, to change "shall" to "may".                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:08:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KOOKESH called  the bill simple, but  complicated. He was                                                               
amazed by the cost of the fiscal  notes. He said his intent is to                                                               
benefit  the  child  and  he  hoped the  fiscal  note  would  not                                                               
discourage  passage  of  this  legislation.   He  said  he  would                                                               
continue  to  work with  the  Attorney  General's Office  on  the                                                               
amendments. He said he had no  problem with a delayed fiscal note                                                               
by the Alaska Court System.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:10:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON asked  if there  were negative  impacts from  this                                                               
type of  legislation in  any other  states and  if there  was any                                                               
opposition in Alaska to this bill.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH replied that there  had been no opposition to the                                                               
bill. He said the growing trend  is the shared model, as depicted                                                               
in the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON  asked if there  had been any challenging  suits in                                                               
other states.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH didn't think so.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DAVIS offered  to  provide that  information  at the  next                                                               
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SB 134 was heard and held.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
At Ease from 2:13 to 2:14 p.m.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
^Presentations: Citizen Review Panel & Office of Children                                                                       
    Presentations: Citizen Review Panel & Office of Children                                                                
                            Services                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:14:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SUSAN  HEUER, Chair,  Citizen Review  Panel (CRP),  reported that                                                               
CRP is  a federally  mandated, voluntary group  made up  of eight                                                               
members of  varying expertise in  child protection  interests and                                                               
concerns. She related  that CRP provides oversight  to the Office                                                               
of  Children's Services  (OCS) and  gathers public  input on  how                                                               
well  child protection  is being  delivered statewide.  The panel                                                               
does this by visiting different  regions and talking to OCS staff                                                               
and partner  agencies about how  well the system is  working. The                                                               
panel provides an annual report to OCS and the legislature.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She said  the panel  does two  site reviews a  year based  out of                                                               
hubs,  and talks  to any  partner that  works with  OCS, such  as                                                               
tribes, troopers, schools, and child  advocacy centers. Ms. Heuer                                                               
showed  a list  of the  communities visited  since 2008.  OCS has                                                               
been active since 2002.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
She continued  to say that CRP  is mandated by state  and federal                                                               
law and was created through  the federal Child Abuse Prevention &                                                               
Treatment Act  (CAPTA); Keeping Children  & Families Safe  Act of                                                               
2003 and through AS 47.14.205. A  unique benefit of CRP in Alaska                                                               
is that  it is the  only panel  that works with  its legislature.                                                               
CRP  identifies and  advocates for  ancillary  services that  OCS                                                               
cannot  request.  The  goal  of  CRP  is  to  improve  the  child                                                               
protection system for the children of Alaska.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:17:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. HEUER  highlighted the  three focus areas  of CRP  this year:                                                               
Wasilla,  where   Director  Lawton  is  closely   monitoring  the                                                               
situation  and  judges  are seeing  improvements;  Bethel,  where                                                               
there  is a  nearly  fully staffed  office;  and In-home  Safety,                                                               
whose purpose is to acquire  data to determine safety of children                                                               
in the home.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
She related  that CRP  made three  recommendations to  (OCS) this                                                               
year.  One recommendation  is  that  OCS use  the  data they  are                                                               
collecting as  a management tool. Another  recommendation is that                                                               
when a  report of  harm is  screened in for  safety issues  and a                                                               
decision is  made to work with  the family and keep  the child at                                                               
home,  OCS should  evaluate the  timeliness and  effectiveness of                                                               
the  referrals and  services  to ensure  the  safety of  children                                                               
receiving "in-home" services. She  detailed how the process would                                                               
work.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:26:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HEUER  stated that  the  third  recommendation is  that  OCS                                                               
address licensing  issues. There  is a perception  by communities                                                               
that there  is currently  no way to  remove foster  parent status                                                               
when there is  a problem. Another concern is  the slow processing                                                               
of paperwork.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER  made suggestions to  the legislature. Options  need to                                                               
be explored to  obtain housing for OCS rural workers.  There is a                                                               
need for  support for more  licensing workers and  support staff,                                                               
pending the  upcoming workload  study. Finally,  there is  a need                                                               
for support  for an  additional OPA CINA  attorney in  the Palmer                                                               
office to continue recent court improvements.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:33:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS commended CRP for working more closely with OCS.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON asked  if  the Child  Advocacy  Centers (CAC)  are                                                               
working well.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER  reported on the  Copper River  CAC in Gacona  that was                                                               
not working well.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON   spoke  of  the  difficulty   in  finding  foster                                                               
placements due  to potential foster  parents having  old criminal                                                               
or  misdemeanor  charges which  have  prevented  many from  being                                                               
licensed as foster parents.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER had not heard of that.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON  asked if there  was an impediment to  removing bad                                                               
foster parents.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HEUER  did   not  know,  but  said  CRP   will  continue  to                                                               
investigate.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON spoke  of situations where foster care  is simply a                                                               
funding source.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HEUER had  not heard  of that  problem recently.  There were                                                               
concerns expressed about  an instance when there was  a report of                                                               
harm  in a  foster care  home, children  were removed,  and other                                                               
children replaced them.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON asked if it was  due to a record-keeping problem or                                                               
bad judgment.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER said it was bad judgment.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:38:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  EGAN spoke  of  the importance  of  the small  Southeast                                                               
communities who  did not  receive reviews.  He encouraged  CRP to                                                               
visit those communities.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER recalled  a visit in 2008 to Southeast  which had great                                                               
OCS reports.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR EGAN encouraged CRP to visit again.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER inquired if children  in foster homes are available                                                               
for adoption.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER did not know.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER asked if CRP encourages adoption.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HEUER  said absolutely;  however  the  best outcome  is  for                                                               
children  to return  home or  "reunification."  There is  another                                                               
category of foster parents that are set up as adoptive parents.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:42:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER assumed some foster  children did not have parents.                                                               
He asked what happened to children when they turn 18.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER  said children can stay  in custody until they  are 19.                                                               
After  that the  child must  consent to  remain in  custody. More                                                               
funding and  opportunities are needed  for older  foster children                                                               
18-21.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER asked  if the older children are  tracked after age                                                               
18.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEUER deferred to Ms. Lawton to answer.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:45:43 PM                                                                                                                  
CHRISTY  LAWTON, Director,  Office  of  Children Services  (OCS),                                                               
Department of  Health and Social  Services (DHSS),  addressed the                                                               
recommendations  of Alaska's  Citizen Review  Panel. She  related                                                               
how  data is  processed  in  OCS using  the  new electronic  data                                                               
management system. The  data is used to track  caseloads and look                                                               
at individual  office performance,  and to  assess progress  on a                                                               
performance improvement plan required  by the federal government.                                                               
Federal agencies rate Alaska's quality  assurance reviews as "the                                                               
best that they've seen" in  that they mirror federal reviews. The                                                               
field  office is  required to  create  a performance  improvement                                                               
plan to address areas of growth.  She concluded that OCS is using                                                               
data as a management tool on a daily basis.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:49:08 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LAWTON responded  to in-home  services recommendations.  She                                                               
explained   how   information   is   collected   during   initial                                                               
assessments leading to a determination  whether the child is safe                                                               
or at high risk.  The first attempt is to engage  the family on a                                                               
volunteer  basis.  Only  a  small   percentage  of  families  are                                                               
receptive  to a  safety  plan.  More likely,  most  of the  cases                                                               
require intervention  and foster  care. Once  a child  comes into                                                               
foster care, other  support systems are then put  into place. In-                                                               
home service  delivery has  been an  area of  growth for  OCS the                                                               
last two years.  OCS has provided more training  in Fairbanks and                                                               
Anchorage,  fine-tuning the  level  of skill  needed to  identify                                                               
families that do and do not need foster care.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:54:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  LAWTON addressed  licensing  concerns. She  noted she  would                                                               
follow  up on  the example  previously mentioned.  She emphasized                                                               
that if OCS  receives a report of maltreatment in  a foster home,                                                               
and  an investigation  finds that  is, in  fact, the  case, their                                                               
license would  be revoked. It is  a process that takes  time. OCS                                                               
would  not place  other foster  children in  that home.  She said                                                               
placement  is at  the agency's  discretion and  OCS is  not under                                                               
obligation to place a child in a foster home that is inadequate.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON  highlighted improvement  in the Wasilla  office which                                                               
had no complaints filed during  the month of January, as compared                                                               
to  last year  when  12  were filed.  Bethel  continues  to be  a                                                               
challenge  with complex,  generational issues.  Staff housing  is                                                               
also an issue in the Bethel  area, and staff are often hired from                                                               
out of state,  which presents issues and high  turnover. There is                                                               
a need to recruit local employees.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DAVIS suggested  meeting with  CRP to  talk further  about                                                               
their  recommendations. She  appreciated the  improvement in  in-                                                               
home services.  She had  no answers for  the housing  problem and                                                               
invited Commissioner Streur to address the issue.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:00:25 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM  STREUR, Commissioner,  Department of  Health and  Social                                                               
Services (DHSS),  reported that the  department has met  with the                                                               
Alaska  Housing Finance  Corporation (AHFC),  which has  provided                                                               
financing  for housing  various  entities. He  said  he has  also                                                               
approached the Yukon Kuskokwim  Health Corporation (YKHC) because                                                               
Bethel is the  area that has the greatest  housing challenges. He                                                               
offered to be more aggressive about finding housing solutions.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON asked  if it was difficult to  find qualified rural                                                               
foster parents.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON responded yes.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON  suggested   not  disqualifying  potential  foster                                                               
parents  who have  an  old criminal  record.  Turning to  another                                                               
topic, he asked if OCS  receives reports of statutory rape sexual                                                               
abuse.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON said yes.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON requested  last year's  reports. He  asked if  the                                                               
reports show who originates them.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON did not know if  the reports distinguished the type of                                                               
sexual abuse.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON  expressed sadness  about the  tragedy of  the need                                                               
for  foster care.  He mentioned  the problem  of meeting  federal                                                               
guidelines for  permanent placement  of children, which  can take                                                               
anywhere  from 12  to 18  months. Historically,  the problem  has                                                               
been  court  delays in  processing  the  termination of  parental                                                               
rights. He asked how that process is currently going.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON  pointed out that  significant progress has  been made                                                               
in  that  area  by  working  with  the  court  system  to  devise                                                               
strategies to speed up the process.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:04:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  asked if police  have knowledge about  which homes                                                               
are foster homes.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON said they do. Foster parents are flagged.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER asked  if kids are tracked after they  "age out" of                                                               
foster care.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON replied that they are tracked, but it is challenging.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER requested that information.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON  reported that  38 young  adults are  currently taking                                                               
advantage of the college assistance program.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:06:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVIS thanked Ms. Lawton for the improvements in OCS. She                                                                 
expected the biggest problem was the ability to keep staff, not                                                                 
just in rural areas.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. LAWTON agreed. She said the staff turnover rate was 34                                                                      
percent. Out of 495 employees, 168 positions are in transition.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:07:40 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Davis adjourned the meeting at 3:07 p.m.                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB134 Bill.pdf SHSS 2/6/2012 1:30:00 PM
SB 134
SB134 Memo from Leg Legal.pdf SHSS 2/6/2012 1:30:00 PM
SJUD 3/7/2012 1:30:00 PM
SB 134
SB134 11-076 Leg SB134 Research Report Child Support in other states.pdf SHSS 2/6/2012 1:30:00 PM
SJUD 3/7/2012 1:30:00 PM
SB 134
SB134 CSSD Comments.doc SHSS 2/6/2012 1:30:00 PM
SB 134