Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/20/2017 01:30 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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01:30:23 PM Start
01:31:04 PM Presentation: Alaska Citizen Review Panel
02:45:53 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: Alaska Citizen's Review Panel TELECONFERENCED
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+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                    
                         March 20, 2017                                                                                         
                           1:30 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator David Wilson, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Natasha von Imhof, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION: ALASKA CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR. DIWAKAR VADAPALLI, Chair                                                                                                    
Alaska Citizen Review Panel (CRP)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented information on Alaska Citizen                                                                   
Review Panel.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:30:23 PM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR DAVID WILSON  called the Senate Health  and Social Services                                                             
Standing Committee meeting  to order at 1:30 p.m.  Present at the                                                               
call  to order  were  Senators Giessel,  Von  Imhof, Begich,  and                                                               
Chair Wilson. Senator Micciche arrived shortly thereafter.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION: Alaska Citizen Review Panel                                                                                      
           PRESENTATION: Alaska Citizen Review Panel                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:31:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced that the only order of business would be                                                                 
a presentation on Alaska Citizen Review Panel.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:31:38 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. DIWAKAR VADAPALLI, Chair, Alaska Citizen Review Panel (CRP),                                                                
presented information on Alaska Citizen Review Panel. He read                                                                   
from a prepared document:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Thank  you  for  the  opportunity to  present  to  this                                                                    
     committee.  This  is  the   first  opportunity  in  the                                                                    
     panel's  15  years history  to  be  presenting to  this                                                                    
     Committee.  Some  of  you  may  be  familiar  with  the                                                                    
     history of  the panel, and  its purpose. In  fact, Sen.                                                                    
     Coghill,  then  Rep.  Coghill,  sponsored  HB  53  that                                                                    
     instituted Citizen Review Panel (CRP) back in 2005.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     I am Diwakar Vadapalli, current  Chair of the panel. It                                                                    
     is my  honor to be speaking  to you in my  last year as                                                                    
     the Chair. I  am stepping down at the end  of June this                                                                    
     year.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Before  I begin,  I would  like to  acknowledge Rebecca                                                                    
     Vale, a  member of the  panel from Anchorage who  is on                                                                    
     the  phone. She  will be  taking over  as Chair  of the                                                                    
     panel on  July 1;  Margie Mc  Williams, sitting  in the                                                                    
     audience, a  member from Juneau.  Other members  of the                                                                    
     panel are  Dana Hallett  from Haines.  He has  been the                                                                    
     Vice Chair of the Panel  for the last four years. Sonya                                                                    
     Hull  from Wasilla,  and Bettyann  Statiew from  Anchor                                                                    
     Point.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:33:18 PM                                                                                                                    
He provided the presentation outline:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     As  I   go  through   this  presentation,   on  several                                                                    
     occasions, I will mention  several challenges the panel                                                                    
     faced over  the last four  years, and the  vision going                                                                    
     forward.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:33:33 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI provided the history of CRPs:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Congress  mandated  CRPs   through  amendments  to  the                                                                    
     federal  Child Abuse  Prevention and  Treatment Act  in                                                                    
     1996. Federal statute requires that  all states have at                                                                    
     least  three panels,  with  some  exceptions that  were                                                                    
     allowed to have one panel.  Alaska and six other states                                                                    
     fall within  that category. Please  note that  there is                                                                    
     only  a minimum  limit  for the  number  of panels.  In                                                                    
     fact,  there  are  more  than  340  panels  across  the                                                                    
     country.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska  CRP has  been functional  since May  2002, when                                                                    
     OCS was  still DFYS.  By 2005, when  HB 53  was passed,                                                                    
     the  panel had  been producing  its annual  report, and                                                                    
     conducting town  hall meetings across the  state. These                                                                    
     town  hall  meetings  later transformed  into  in-depth                                                                    
     site visit  reviews. I do  not have  historical records                                                                    
     of its  budget before 2005. A  fiscal note accompanying                                                                    
     HB 53 identified $64,300 for  CRP that included a half-                                                                    
     time position and money for  member travel expenses. An                                                                    
     OCS staff person was assigned  half-time to support the                                                                    
     panel's work between 2002 and 2005.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Beginning  in  2005,  a  private  consulting  firm  was                                                                    
     contracted  by OCS  to provide  staff  support for  the                                                                    
     panel. The  entire CRP budget, including  the money for                                                                    
     its members  travel, is  routed through  that contract.                                                                    
     The  panel's current  annual  budget  has increased  to                                                                    
     $100,000.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     All   members   are   volunteers,   and   together   we                                                                    
     contributed  about 2000  hours  each  year towards  the                                                                    
     panel's work. It has always  been a small panel with no                                                                    
     more than 9 members at any time.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:35:44 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI provided the functions and mandates of the panel:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The  panel  is a  statutory  body,  with a  very  broad                                                                    
     mandate.  Language  in  the  Alaska  state  statute  is                                                                    
     almost  a  mirror image  of  the  federal statute.  Key                                                                    
     words are highlighted in red.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     First -  the CRP's  focus is the  policies, procedures,                                                                    
     and  practices  of state  and  local  CPS agencies.  In                                                                    
     Alaska that is the Office of Children Services (OCS).                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Two  functions   are  clear   from  these   statutes  -                                                                    
     Evaluate,   and  conduct   public  outreach.   A  third                                                                    
     function, advocacy,  is not mentioned in  the statutes,                                                                    
     but  was discussed  during the  debates in  Congress in                                                                    
     1996  when the  amendments  to CAPTA  were being  voted                                                                    
     upon.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Therefore,   the   central   focus  of   Alaska   CRP's                                                                    
     activities are the  policies, procedures, and practices                                                                    
     of OCS.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The  panel  has  three  specific  functions  -  review,                                                                    
     outreach, and advocacy.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Review/Evaluate:    The   statute    identifies   three                                                                    
     standards against  which such  an evaluation  should be                                                                    
     conducted - States' CAPTA Plan,  CPS Standards, and any                                                                    
     other criteria. While the first  two are rather clearly                                                                    
     defined, the  third one really  opens up  any component                                                                    
     of OCS operations for review by the panel.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Outreach: Collect public opinion  to assess the impacts                                                                    
     of OCS policies, procedures,  and practices on children                                                                    
     and families  - such  assessment should inform  the CRP                                                                    
     review above.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Advocacy  - make  recommendations for  relevant changes                                                                    
     in  CPS  policies,  procedures, and  practices.  Beyond                                                                    
     that, advocacy is a slippery slope for CRPs.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:36:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON noted the arrival of Senator Micciche.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH questioned the third point - advocacy - and asked                                                                
what other criteria the panel has identified.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  provided an example  of other criteria  - anything                                                               
the  panel comes  across in  a site  visit, such  as security  of                                                               
workers  in  the  field  or  a  report  by  someone,  such  as  a                                                               
legislator, regarding an issue.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:37:50 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked if they discuss some of those criteria when                                                                
making annual recommendations.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI said yes.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:38:16 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI continued with CRP's central purpose.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:38:55 PM                                                                                                                    
     From  the  statutes,  congressional  record,  available                                                                    
     published  literature,  and numerous  discussions  with                                                                    
     other panels across the country, it is clear that:                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     CRPs exist  to help  CPS agencies.  Congress recognized                                                                    
     that CPS agencies across the  country were growing more                                                                    
     insular  from   the  populations  they   serve.  Public                                                                    
     participation in these systems  was seen as a necessary                                                                    
     reform.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     To  that  effect, Congress  created  CRPs  to be  those                                                                    
     mechanisms  for  public   participation,  or  community                                                                    
     engagement,  in child  protection.  CRPs  are the  only                                                                    
     statutory mechanisms  with that specific  purpose. They                                                                    
     are  expected  to   facilitate  robust  and  meaningful                                                                    
     participation of  citizens in diverse roles,  to assist                                                                    
     the  state's  child  protection system  in  being  more                                                                    
     responsive   to  the   needs   of   the  families   and                                                                    
     communities  of  the  state.  Congressional  record  is                                                                    
     clear that CRPs  are to provide, and  I quote, "regular                                                                    
     citizens, not  just child protection  bureaucrats", end                                                                    
     quote, an  opportunity to set  policy and  suggest best                                                                    
     practice.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Again, the  central idea is,  with input  from citizens                                                                    
     that are  being served and the  larger community, OCS's                                                                    
     policies,  procedures,  and   practices  will  be  more                                                                    
     responsive to the citizens' needs.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:40:12 PM                                                                                                                    
He turned to OCS's mission:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     OCS  is a  complex  agency with  a  difficult job.  Its                                                                    
     mission, as  mentioned on the  agency's website,  is to                                                                    
     "work in  partnership with families and  communities to                                                                    
     support the well-being of  Alaska's children and youth.                                                                    
     Services  will  enhance  families' capacities  to  give                                                                    
     their children  a healthy start,  to provide  them with                                                                    
     safe   and  permanent   homes,  to   maintain  cultural                                                                    
     connections,   and   to   help   them   realize   their                                                                    
     potential." The key words are highlighted in red.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The  CRP's  purpose  is  to   bring  forth  voices  and                                                                    
     opinions of  those families  and communities.  There is                                                                    
     obvious  synergy here  between this  mission statement,                                                                    
     and congressional intent behind CRPs.                                                                                      
     From this mission statement, it  is clear that OCS is a                                                                    
     service agency,  trying to serve families  in difficult                                                                    
     circumstances.  Not  a   police  agency  watching  over                                                                    
     parenting practices.  CRP's role is to  help OCS devise                                                                    
     services  that  meet  the needs  of  the  families  and                                                                    
     communities it  is mandated to serve.  Specifically, by                                                                    
     channeling input from them to OCS.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:41:23 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI discussed the significance of OCS.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     However,  OCS   faces  a   constant  dilemma.   As  the                                                                    
     Ombudsman's report  in 2012 states, and  I quote, "With                                                                    
     the  exception of  the criminal  justice system,  which                                                                    
     may  take  one's  money, one's  freedom  and,  in  some                                                                    
     states, one's life,  it is difficult to  imagine a more                                                                    
     fear-inspiring authority than the  power to take away a                                                                    
     person's children." This  power gives OCS an  aura of a                                                                    
     police  agency.   How  that  power  is   exercised  and                                                                    
     leveraged is key to its success.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     OCS  is  entrusted  with  an  awesome  power  and  huge                                                                    
     responsibility.  This  power   and  responsibility  are                                                                    
     exercised by  frontline workers and  their supervisors.                                                                    
     They  face many  difficult and  traumatic choices  that                                                                    
     can mean a lifetime of good  or bad for a child and her                                                                    
     family. A  lot of  good is  done, more  than we  get to                                                                    
     hear in  the news.  But, like all  of us,  OCS workers,                                                                    
     too, make mistakes. Except, their  mistakes can be very                                                                    
     expensive.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     This   is  why,   as   OCS   mission  statement   says,                                                                    
     partnerships are important, and  thus the CRP, which is                                                                    
     the  only statutory  agency set  up  for that  specific                                                                    
     purpose, is  an important forum for  those partnerships                                                                    
     to flourish.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:42:43 PM                                                                                                                    
He addressed what OCS does not do:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I hope the  last few slides made the role  of a CRP and                                                                    
     its functions clear  to you. I often find  it easier to                                                                    
     list the  things the CRP  does not do, than  to explain                                                                    
     what it does.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     As  I   said,  although   advocacy  was   mentioned  in                                                                    
     congressional record,  it was not part  of the statute.                                                                    
     Therefore, Alaska  CRP walks  a fine line  on advocacy,                                                                    
     and  refrains  from  commenting   on  any  proposed  or                                                                    
     pending legislation.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     It  is important  to  note  that CRP  is  set  up as  a                                                                    
     systems-level  review  mechanism.  It has  no  role  in                                                                    
     individual  cases, contracts,  or  situations. This  is                                                                    
     key  because, there  is  a lot  of  room for  confusion                                                                    
     here. Many  times, CRP is  approached with  requests to                                                                    
     intervene in cases or contracts.  CRP has the statutory                                                                    
     authority to review individual  cases or contracts, but                                                                    
     it  should do  so  with a  systems-perspective, not  to                                                                    
     revise decisions in any one individual situation.                                                                          
     Along  the same  lines, CRP  does not  micromanage OCS.                                                                    
     For example, CRP cannot  handle complaints against case                                                                    
     workers or supervisors.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Another important thing - CRP  is not set up to conduct                                                                    
     program  evaluation. It  evaluates  the procedures  and                                                                    
     practices of  OCS as  stated in  its own  policies, and                                                                    
     other  legal statutes.  It  is  a broad,  systems-level                                                                    
     evaluative function.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The panel does  not lobby either against,  or on behalf                                                                    
     of OCS.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:44:25 PM                                                                                                                    
He noted CRP is a statutory institution:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The CRP  is an institution,  with a statutory  role and                                                                    
     responsibility.                                                                                                            
     It is an organization of the state.                                                                                        
     It facilitates citizen participation.                                                                                      
     It must cultivate a critical, but constructive lens.                                                                       
     It  exists  to  help  OCS by  channeling  critical  but                                                                    
     constructive  input from  families  and communities  to                                                                    
     OCS.                                                                                                                       
     Its  success depends  on its  relationship with  OCS, a                                                                    
     relationship  that  ensures meaningful  recommendations                                                                    
     from CRP and carefully considered response from OCS.                                                                       
     This  is  a  delicate  relationship  that  needs  clear                                                                    
     structure, and continued nurturing.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:45:02 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI showed a slide of the organization of OCS offices:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This is  the lay  of the  land for  CRP. These  are the                                                                    
     five  OCS regions,  and its  field  offices. The  field                                                                    
     office  in Unalaska  was closed  in 2011,  and Galena's                                                                    
     office was flooded in 2014 and since been closed.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:45:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH inquired if the rest of the data on the slide                                                                    
accurate.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR.  VADAPALLI replied  that the  operating budget  is more  than                                                               
$150 million  this year and  turnover for  the last 15  years has                                                               
been  between 25  percent  and  35 percent  on  the frontlines  -                                                               
Protective Service Specialists.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:46:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked if the turnover rate is over 35 percent                                                                  
on an annual basis.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI said it has been between 25 to 35 percent annually                                                                
for the last 15 years.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:47:15 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI showed a slide of CRP's annual calendar:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     This is  a typical CRP  calendar, this one is  from the                                                                    
     last fiscal  year. Alaska  CRP begins  its year  with a                                                                    
     fall  retreat  in   August/September  to  identify  its                                                                    
     annual work  plan. Each year, the  work plan identifies                                                                    
     a set of  goals, and the annual  calendar that includes                                                                    
     meetings and travel.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     CRP is  required to meet  at least once a  quarter. All                                                                    
     its quarterly  meetings are open  to public.  These are                                                                    
     public working  meetings, for  citizens to  witness the                                                                    
     work of  CRP. Each  quarterly meeting  has a  20 minute                                                                    
     slot for an invited guest to speak to the panel.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The panel  meets with OCS leadership  (Director and the                                                                    
     Division  Operations   Manager)  every   month  between                                                                    
     October  and  June.  These meetings  are  not  open  to                                                                    
     public.  These   are  meant  to   build  relationships,                                                                    
     discuss  various  policies, specific  initiatives,  and                                                                    
     other details of CRP work.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The  panel conducts  site visits  every  year. A  small                                                                    
     group (2-4) members  of the panel visits  a regional or                                                                    
     field office to  collect input from OCS  workers in the                                                                    
     field,  various   stakeholder  partner   agencies,  and                                                                    
     individual foster  parents. The  panel does not  have a                                                                    
     systematic  way  to  reach   birth  parents  or  foster                                                                    
     children.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     In  addition to  presenting  to  the legislature  every                                                                    
     year,  the  panel  presents  to  other  interested  and                                                                    
     relevant groups  such as ICWA workers,  CJA Task Force,                                                                    
     CIP, etc.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:49:12 PM                                                                                                                    
He  showed a  slide of  the  2015-2016 workload  during the  last                                                               
fiscal year. There were four goals  and they did four site visits                                                               
and they  talked to more  than 100 individuals across  the state.                                                               
They also  conducted the  OCS staff survey  and attended  the CRP                                                               
National Conference.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:50:00 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI listed the 2015 - 2016 goals:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Each goal listed  here was picked due  to the relevance                                                                    
     and importance  of that  goal at  the time.  The annual                                                                    
     work plan goes into  considerable detail on reasons for                                                                    
     identifying each goal.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     These  goals were  pursued  through  the year,  through                                                                    
     policy  review, data  analysis,  discussions with  more                                                                    
     than  a 100  individuals  in key  positions across  the                                                                    
     state, and the  OCS leadership. In the  next few slides                                                                    
     I will present recommendations from these goals.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:50:21 PM                                                                                                                    
He made five recommendations:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
RECOMMENDATION 1                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     OCS  and the  numerous  tribes in  Alaska  have a  very                                                                    
     complicated relationship.  This has been  evolving over                                                                    
     the years.  In 1994,  a group  of leaders  from various                                                                    
     Alaska  Native tribes  and OCS  established the  Tribal                                                                    
     State Collaborative  Group (TSCG)  as a forum  to build                                                                    
     OCS-Tribal   relationships,   and   to   address   many                                                                    
     differences. In recent  times, OCS-Tribal relationships                                                                    
     have further  evolved. Most recently, a  strategic plan                                                                    
     for  "Transforming Child  Welfare  Outcomes for  Alaska                                                                    
     Native  Children" was  prepared  and  released in  mid-                                                                    
     2016.  This plan  identified six  priority areas.  Most                                                                    
     notably for  CRP, "Community Engagement" is  one of the                                                                    
     six.  Several  objectives  were identified  under  this                                                                    
     priority area.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     It  is important  to note  here that  the CRP  has been                                                                    
     focused on  OCS-Tribal relationship for  several years.                                                                    
     Specific recommendations  in past years  suggested that                                                                    
     OCS  should better  structure the  relationship of  OCS                                                                    
     workers  and tribal  ICWA workers.  Every year  the CRP                                                                    
     surveys ICWA workers about  their relationship with OCS                                                                    
     workers.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     It is also important to note  here that CRP is not just                                                                    
     a review  mechanism. It has a  substantial outreach and                                                                    
     community engagement responsibility.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     CRP was  invited to participate in  a visioning session                                                                    
     for this strategic  plan in May 2015,  during the early                                                                    
     stages  of this  plan  preparation. The  panel was  not                                                                    
     invited to any subsequent  discussions until the plan's                                                                    
     release. The  plan simply does  not mention  CRP. While                                                                    
     the CRP applauds  the effort, and the  vision this plan                                                                    
     represents,   the  irony   of   ignoring  an   existing                                                                    
     statutory mechanism for  community engagement cannot be                                                                    
     lost. Thus this recommendation.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     In  response,  OCS  invited CRP  to  participate  as  a                                                                    
     stakeholder  in  any of  the  six  priority areas,  and                                                                    
     committed  to   keeping  the  panel  informed   of  the                                                                    
     proceedings on  each of  the areas.  This is  a welcome                                                                    
     development. However, this  leads to another challenge.                                                                    
     CRP is  not a stakeholder that  can dial in when  it is                                                                    
     interested. It is a mechanism  with a statutory duty to                                                                    
     facilitate dialogue  between a section  of stakeholders                                                                    
     and    OCS.    CRP    as    a    stakeholder    is    a                                                                    
     mischaracterization. A  more meaningful  approach would                                                                    
     be  to identify  an appropriate  and specific  role for                                                                    
     CRP to  implement sections of this  plan in partnership                                                                    
     with others  leading this effort.  That is  the central                                                                    
     point of this recommendation. If  the CRP does not have                                                                    
     the  capacity  to  fulfill  the  identified  role,  its                                                                    
     capacity needs to be enhanced.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:53:49 PM                                                                                                                    
RECOMMENDATION 2                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     I  am sure  we  all  can agree  that,  despite all  the                                                                    
     negative  press coverage  about  OCS, child  protection                                                                    
     needs additional resources.  In difficult budget times,                                                                    
     every  leverage must  be employed.  This recommendation                                                                    
     simply  acknowledges  the  assets tribal  partners  can                                                                    
     bring  to the  table,  and for  OCS  to leverage  their                                                                    
     partnerships to this end.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:54:15 PM                                                                                                                    
RECOMMENDATION 3                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Despite  numerous hours  by volunteers  and good  faith                                                                    
     effort by  many involved  over the  years, the  CRP has                                                                    
     been  an afterthought  for  a long  time.  There is  no                                                                    
     oversight over the CRP, or its relationship with OCS.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The panel existed  without a set of  policies or bylaws                                                                    
     for 13  years. The panel  had been in violation  of the                                                                    
     state's  sunshine laws  until January  2015. While  the                                                                    
     2005 statute  asks the  DHSS Commissioner  to institute                                                                    
     regulations, it  was never  done. With  no regulations,                                                                    
     or operating procedures or  policies guiding actions of                                                                    
     its  members,  staff,  or   OCS,  there  are  continued                                                                    
     confusion, uncertainty, and unclear expectations.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:55:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked about the  regulations. He said he looked at                                                               
the  statute and  under  the duties  of the  state  panel, in  AS                                                               
47.14.215,  Section  C,  it  says   "the  commissioner  shall  by                                                               
regulation establish  policies and procedures necessary  to carry                                                               
out  the duties  of  the  state panel  under  this section."  The                                                               
provision  was  established  in  2005  and  there  are  still  no                                                               
regulations after 12 years.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPPIL agreed.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH asked why that was.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  related that  he has  been on  the panel  for five                                                               
years and the  chair for four of those years.  He said he brought                                                               
this  up to  the  notice  of the  commissioner  of  DHSS and  the                                                               
director of  OCS three times.  He said, from his  perspective, it                                                               
is  due  to  a combination  of  a  lack  of  capacity to  put  in                                                               
resources  to develop  regulations  and lack  of  clarity in  the                                                               
exact role of CRP and its relationship with OCS.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:56:46 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH found that disturbing.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked if Dr. Vadapalli has copies of CRP's                                                                         
communications to the department asking for regulations.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI said he did have those email communications.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON requested to share them with the committee.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI agreed to provide them.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:57:37 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI continued:                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     There  is no  oversight  over CRP,  nor  was there  any                                                                    
     evaluation of its work. That  is a double-edged sword -                                                                    
     the CRP may or may not be  doing its job, or OCS may or                                                                    
     may  not  be  responding   adequately.  This  leads  to                                                                    
     erosion of accountability of  the entire mechanism, and                                                                    
     fails  the  congressional  and  legislative  intent  of                                                                    
     having  a  CRP,  which  is  to  help  OCS  to  be  more                                                                    
     responsive  to  community  needs.  Effective  oversight                                                                    
     mechanisms over the CRP enterprise  would be either the                                                                    
     legislature  or  the  general public  and  stakeholders                                                                    
     impacted by  OCS' policies, procedures,  and practices.                                                                    
     While  the  panel  continues to  meet  with  individual                                                                    
     senators every  year, as I  mentioned earlier,  this is                                                                    
     the  first  time  in  fifteen years  that  CRP  had  an                                                                    
     opportunity  to present  to the  Senate HSS  Committee.                                                                    
     The  only statutory  requirement that  is monitored  by                                                                    
     the  federal government  (since it  is a  congressional                                                                    
     mandate) is the production of  its annual report, and a                                                                    
     response from  OCS. The quality of  either documents is                                                                    
     never assessed.  The panel rarely receives  any queries                                                                    
     or  requests  for clarifications  of  its  work or  its                                                                    
     recommendations.  While  its  recommendations  are  not                                                                    
     legally binding  on OCS, they can  result in meaningful                                                                    
     action  only  through   legislative  oversight  of  the                                                                    
     process.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Since the CRP could  not generate greater interest from                                                                    
     OCS, DHSS,  or the legislature,  it set out  to conduct                                                                    
     an   evaluation   of   its  own   structure   and   its                                                                    
     relationship  with  OCS.  There   are  many  areas  for                                                                    
     improvement. The  ones shows  are the  most significant                                                                    
     ones.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The  state  is  required   to  provide  adequate  staff                                                                    
     support for  the panel,  and it  does so  by allocating                                                                    
     $100,000 of  its general funds each  year. This funding                                                                    
     is routed through OCS budget,  with OCS/DHSS having the                                                                    
     authority  to  expand or  contract  the  budget as  the                                                                    
     agency  sees fit.  In essence,  the  panel reviews  the                                                                    
     policies, procedures,  and practices of an  agency that                                                                    
     controls its  budget. This arrangement,  by definition,                                                                    
     is not  wrong or  impossible to work  with, as  long as                                                                    
     the purpose and  role of CRP is clear.  However, due to                                                                    
     continuing lack  of clarity in expectations  and in the                                                                    
     absence of  any regulations, this arrangement  leads to                                                                    
     avoidable conflicts of  interest. Moreover, routing the                                                                    
     entire   CRP  budget   through  a   private  consulting                                                                    
     contract  creates difficult  ethical  dilemmas for  the                                                                    
     contractor.  A  series  of  such  dilemmas  led  to  an                                                                    
     unpleasant  transition  in  staff  support  during  the                                                                    
     summer of  2016, causing considerable delay  in panel's                                                                    
     work for 2017.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     This  is  not to  dispute  OCS'  claim that  it  worked                                                                    
     collaboratively  and  respectfully  with CRP  over  the                                                                    
     years. This  recommendation is pointing to  the need to                                                                    
     assess   effectiveness   of  such   collaboration   and                                                                    
     respect. Neither can replace effectiveness.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:00:52 PM                                                                                                                    
RECOMMENDATION 4                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CRP and OCS had been  discussing the staff survey since                                                                    
     2012. In  2015, OCS  asked the CRP  to conduct  it. The                                                                    
     CRP  leveraged a  graduate class  I teach  at UAA,  and                                                                    
     conducted the  survey and compiled the  results. Unlike                                                                    
     the past  years, results  were reported  separately for                                                                    
     frontline workers  and other staff at  OCS. With around                                                                    
     30% turnover  among frontline workers  consistently for                                                                    
     over  15  years,  it is  important  to  understand  the                                                                    
     perspective of the frontline workers.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Since this  was the first  time an external  entity was                                                                    
     conducting its  staff survey, OCS  requested we  do not                                                                    
     ask any  additional questions than already  being asked                                                                    
     in the old survey.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     The survey results document was  released in July 2016.                                                                    
     Main findings of the survey include:                                                                                       
     Workers hold their immediate supervisors in very high                                                                      
     regard.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Workers felt that the community at large do not                                                                            
     understand the purpose and work of OCS.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The  recommendations on  the slide  were made  based on                                                                    
     several other findings, to  improve the survey efforts.                                                                    
     This  survey  asked  several questions  about  training                                                                    
     provided  to  OCS  workers. But,  all  training-related                                                                    
     questions  are  focused on  a  2-3  week training  they                                                                    
     receive from  the Child  Welfare Academy  shortly after                                                                    
     signing up for their  job. Scientific evidence is clear                                                                    
     that  it takes  about  two years  for  a new  frontline                                                                    
     worker  in child  protection to  learn their  job well.                                                                    
     This implies, structured  training opportunities should                                                                    
     be available  throughout the first  two years of  a new                                                                    
     hire,  and  beyond.  Many  such  opportunities  may  be                                                                    
     available. However,  the current survey does  not allow                                                                    
     collecting information  about those.  As a  result, the                                                                    
     survey paints  a very  limited perspective  of workers'                                                                    
     training needs and the actual training they obtain.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     In response  to the  first bullet,  OCS says  there are                                                                    
     many training opportunities for  OCS workers after they                                                                    
     complete their  initial training,  and "it  knows" that                                                                    
     workers  struggle  with  "transfer  of  learning"  from                                                                    
     training to  field. This is contradictory  because, one                                                                    
     of central  purposes of on-the-job training  is to help                                                                    
     with improve transfer  of learning. This recommendation                                                                    
     is  asking  OCS  to   verify  if  available  on-the-job                                                                    
     training opportunities  are helping to the  extent they                                                                    
     should.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The current  survey is already  long, and  many aspects                                                                    
     of a workers  life at OCS are not covered  by it. It is                                                                    
     not  clear   if  there  are  other   surveys  or  other                                                                    
     mechanisms through  which OCS leadership  collects this                                                                    
     feedback.  One of  the findings  from this  year showed                                                                    
     that   feedback  channels   from   frontlines  to   the                                                                    
     leadership  need  to  be  improved.  Thus,  the  second                                                                    
     bullet point.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     OCS conducts  stakeholder surveys with  foster parents,                                                                    
     Alaska  Native  tribes,  and other  service  providers.                                                                    
     Results   from   all   these  surveys   are   similarly                                                                    
     documented  -  basic  question-by-question  summary  of                                                                    
     results. It  is not evident that  any in-depth analysis                                                                    
     is  conducted  to  inform  policy  or  practice.  Since                                                                    
     resources  are   scarce,  the  third   bullet  suggests                                                                    
     leveraging  entities  such  as   CRP  to  conduct  such                                                                    
     surveys.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     OCS resumed conducting its own  staff survey this year.                                                                    
     The CRP  will request data  from the survey  to conduct                                                                    
     analysis.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:05:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE commented, with a  30 percent turnover rate over                                                               
two years for  a new frontline worker to  become fully competent,                                                               
OCS is only getting one year of active service.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:05:57 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI  agreed that there  is a  high turnover rate  and a                                                               
high investment in training only to  see workers move on. He said                                                               
it  is  a  challenge  for  the  agency.  He  suggested  that  the                                                               
leadership  at  OCS  can  better address  the  loss  of  training                                                               
resources.  The  panel did  not  address  loss of  resources  and                                                               
impacts from loss of workers.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MICCICHE  did the math  noting, as  a whole, OCS  is only                                                               
getting one year of performance out of employees.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI agreed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:07:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  countered that statistics can  be interpreted in                                                               
various ways.  She said  OCS work is  highly stressful  and every                                                               
case is different. She requested more information on the data.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  said the panel  has been collecting data  from OCS                                                               
on turnover rate of the  frontline positions, by region, over the                                                               
last four years. The panel  hopes to determine where the turnover                                                               
is happening and the reasons for  it. So far, the data shows that                                                               
the  majority who  leave resign  and leave  the agency.  However,                                                               
they don't know what that means yet.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:09:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  requested the average  length of OCS  service and                                                               
service by region.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  agreed to ask  for that information.  He continued                                                               
with recommendation 5.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:10:15 PM                                                                                                                    
RECOMMENTATION 5                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Over the  last four years,  as the Chair, I  focused on                                                                    
     clarifying the  purpose of CRP.  The panel  had lengthy                                                                    
     deliberations over  the last four years,  reflecting on                                                                    
     its  role and  purpose.  After extensive  conversations                                                                    
     with   many   across   the  nation,   and   review   of                                                                    
     congressional  record, past  documents  of CRPs  across                                                                    
     the nation,  scholarly literature, and  other documents                                                                    
     published  over  the  years since  the  early  90s,  it                                                                    
     became clear that  the panel is a  mechanism for public                                                                    
     participation. It  is not just  a watch dog  group that                                                                    
     raises alarm  at every perceived  mistake that  OCS may                                                                    
     make. It has a more complex mandate.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     It  is the  responsibility of  the panel  to provide  a                                                                    
     forum  for   informed,  thoughtful,   and  constructive                                                                    
     dialogue  among  stakeholders, primarily  the  families                                                                    
     and communities served by OCS.  It should do so through                                                                    
     its review, outreach, and  advocacy functions. This can                                                                    
     be   done.   However,    it   requires   a   structured                                                                    
     relationship with OCS. It  needs enhanced capacity that                                                                    
     this structure would bring.  While additional funds can                                                                    
     help,  funding will  not  resolve  all challenges.  The                                                                    
     current  budget  of  $100,000  can  be  stretched  much                                                                    
     further with a more structured relationship.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     That is  the central  point of this  recommendation. In                                                                    
     response, OCS cites CRP's current  lack of capacity for                                                                    
     not relying on  CRP, but ignores the  idea of enhancing                                                                    
     CRP's capacity for OCS to be able to rely on it.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:11:53 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI discussed the goals for 2016-2017, several of                                                                     
which have been retained from last year:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     As  you may  have noticed,  the CRP  often ends  up not                                                                    
     being able to  complete its work on some  of the goals.                                                                    
     Most often,  it is because  the panel did not  have all                                                                    
     the information and data it  needs to adequately assess                                                                    
     the  practice or  policy on  a  particular goal.  These                                                                    
     goals  the  panel adopted  for  this  year may  not  be                                                                    
     accomplished  as planned.  The panel  is behind  on its                                                                    
     planned  site visits.  Much of  this delay  is for  two                                                                    
     reasons -  the panel  had a  considerable delay  due to                                                                    
     change in  staff. The second  reason is - the  panel is                                                                    
     hosting the  next National CRP Conference  in Anchorage                                                                    
     this May.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:12:52 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI described the Grand Jury investigation of OCS:                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     As you  may be  aware, Rep. Wilson  called for  a Grand                                                                    
     Jury  investigation of  OCS. The  Grand Jury  concluded                                                                    
     that  it is  the CRP's  statutory responsibility  to be                                                                    
     conducting  such  a  review.  The  panel  received  all                                                                    
     materials  from the  grand jury.  In  addition, we  are                                                                    
     compiling   information   from  all   public   hearings                                                                    
     recently held by Rep. Wilson.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     This review will  be a major challenge  for the panel's                                                                    
     current capacity.  As you can  see, the panel  plans to                                                                    
                                      th                                                                                        
     release an action plan by June 30   with regard to this                                                                    
     review.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:13:45 PM                                                                                                                    
He discussed anticipated changes to CRP:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     I mentioned  the lack of capacity.  Again, capacity not                                                                    
     in dollars.  The panel needs  more volunteers  that can                                                                    
     perform various  tasks. It  needs a  better recruitment                                                                    
     and  retention  strategy.  It needs  more  instrumental                                                                    
     partnerships  with  similar  review bodies.  There  are                                                                    
     about 10  different review mechanisms that  oversee one                                                                    
     or the  other aspect  of OCS. The  panel needs  to gain                                                                    
     visibility  and  trust  among the  general  population.                                                                    
     Everyone   needs    to   understand   the    role   and                                                                    
     responsibility   of  CRP.   And  in   turn,  hold   CRP                                                                    
     accountable for its work.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     More  importantly,  the  misperception that  CRP  is  a                                                                    
     watch  dog  agency  must  be   corrected.  It  needs  a                                                                    
     reorientation as  a mechanism for  public participation                                                                    
     and  community  engagement  in  child  protection.  The                                                                    
     panel has  been discussing  this with  OCS, and  we set                                                                    
     ourselves  a three-year  timeline to  achieve this.  We                                                                    
     wish  to  adopt  a participatory  evaluation  framework                                                                    
     with those elements on the slide.                                                                                          
     In addition to  all that, the panel  needs support from                                                                    
     the legislature. I hope that  the panel will be invited                                                                    
     back  every  year  to present  its  findings.  This  is                                                                    
     important  to  not  only provide  a  public  forum  for                                                                    
     constructive  dialogue,  but  also   to  hold  the  CRP                                                                    
     accountable.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     There are  very few  restrictions on who  can volunteer                                                                    
     for CRP. Being a legislator is  not one of them. If you                                                                    
     do not  have the time,  you may know others  that might                                                                    
     be a good fit.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:15:44 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI turned to the last slide:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     To help with  visibility in Alaska, and  to improve our                                                                    
     collective  understanding of  CRP,  the  Alaska CRP  is                                                                    
     hosting this  years' National  CRP Conference.  It goes                                                                    
     without saying  that you all are  invited. Registration                                                                    
     is open  now. We hope to  see you all there.  Thank you                                                                    
     for your time.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:16:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON  thanked  Dr.  Vadapalli.  He  said  the  issue  of                                                               
evaluation and oversight of all  departments is important to him.                                                               
Today's  presentation on  OCS oversight  is the  beginning of  an                                                               
overview of the Department of Health and Social Services.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:16:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WILSON   asked  how  many  recommendations   OCS  actually                                                               
completes.  Recommendation   1  is   to  continue   to  implement                                                               
recommendations   from  2013   to   2014.  He   asked  how   many                                                               
recommendations are continuations and how many are complete.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  said the  recommendations from  the panel  are not                                                               
binding  and  may be  accepted  or  rejected, however,  OCS  must                                                               
respond. Most  of the time they  accept them. The panel  does not                                                               
have   the   capability   to    track   the   implementation   of                                                               
recommendations. He  used the intake policy  recommendation as an                                                               
example.  OCS was  moving from  a  regional intake  to a  central                                                               
intake  and they  planned to  implement  all the  recommendations                                                               
when the move was complete.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH pointed out that  cooperation with the state panel                                                               
is under state  statute in Section 225. It  says, "The department                                                               
shall provide the panel access  to information on child abuse and                                                               
neglect cases  that is necessary for  the panel to carry  out its                                                               
duties  and the  department shall  serve  as staff  to the  state                                                               
panel  as requested  by the  panel members."  He emphasized  that                                                               
they  are  "shall"  and  not  "may"  clauses.  He  asked  if  the                                                               
department is responsive to CRP's request for data.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:20:24 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI replied  that the responsiveness of  the agency has                                                               
changed over the  years. He began working with the  panel in 2012                                                               
and  remembers very  little sharing  of  data. At  the time,  the                                                               
request for  data was probably  not clear  and there is  still no                                                               
protocol for data sharing. The  panel has the statutory authority                                                               
to request any information it  sees as necessary. The agency does                                                               
not refuse  to share data,  but there  are many barriers  to data                                                               
sharing.  One is  confidentiality.  There may  be the  perception                                                               
that  a  panel  of  volunteers   does  not  know  how  to  handle                                                               
confidential data. No protocol exists to share data.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:21:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  stated that it would  be illegal for a  member of                                                               
the panel to disclose confidential  information. He assumed there                                                               
is no protocol  because there are no  regulations. The department                                                               
has  had  15  years  to  develop  regulations  to  determine  the                                                               
protocol for data sharing and how the CRP should be used.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:22:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI said that is correct.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:22:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  pointed out that  the retention rate of  OCS is                                                               
similar  to the  retention rate  of the  panel. He  asked why  30                                                               
percent of panel members dropped off this year.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  said retention and  recruitment for the  panel has                                                               
been a challenge for a long  time. In the past, site reviews were                                                               
conducted by  all panel  members traveling  to a  particular site                                                               
and they  couldn't afford  to do  more than  three sites  a year.                                                               
Now, only  three members go to  review a site. As  things change,                                                               
it is hard to  convey to new members what their  role will be and                                                               
how they can contribute. A  lack of structure in the agency/panel                                                               
relationship  often leads  to  contentious  discussions in  which                                                               
some  panel members  are uncomfortable.  A  panel volunteer  must                                                               
feel that their time is valuable and valued.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MICCICHE thought  the recommendations  by the  panel did                                                               
not point  fingers at  OCS, but were  positive. He  asked whether                                                               
that  was a  CRP improvement  objective.  He also  asked how  the                                                               
legislature can support CRP.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:25:38 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI explained that the panel  works very hard to keep a                                                               
constructive, but critical,  tone, but that can  only happen when                                                               
there  is structure  to the  relationship and  that structure  is                                                               
monitored.  There are  two bodies  that can  monitor the  CRP/OCS                                                               
relationship  the general  public and  the legislature.  He asked                                                               
the legislature to help by monitoring the relationship.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:27:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL noted  CRP's budget  is $100,000  and they  make                                                               
site visits. She asked if the  panel has staff and how many hours                                                               
they work.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI pointed  out that their contract  can't exceed more                                                               
than $30,000 in  travel, so $70,000 is set up  for staff support.                                                               
CRP is a  statutory state body, not a nonprofit.  Out of $70,000,                                                               
the  panel  is expected  to  coordinate  the panel's  activities,                                                               
clinical  support, including  writing  reports, evaluation  work,                                                               
and  general training.  He said  $70,000  is not  enough for  any                                                               
contractor  to meet  all those  demands, so  the panel  must find                                                               
innovative ways  to recruit volunteers  to do some of  that work.                                                               
He said,  as a researcher, he  can bring data analysis  skills to                                                               
the panel.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:29:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL spoke  of the panel's organization  and could see                                                               
where  there  are  challenges,  especially  with  volunteers  and                                                               
without  regulations. The  process  has been  constrained by  the                                                               
lack  of an  executive director.  She  asked if  the funding  was                                                               
raised from $35,000 to $100,000.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI explained  that HB 53 in 2005  contained $65,000 in                                                               
funding.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GIESSEL commented  that CRP has not been  fully funded by                                                               
the legislature and it is hard work for volunteers.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:30:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  agreed with Senator  Giessel. He wished  that CRP                                                               
could forward the regulations they  wanted to see adopted and the                                                               
legislature could review  and support them. He  looked forward to                                                               
a response from OCS. He commended Dr. Vadapalli for his work.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:31:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI  said last year  they met with the  commissioner of                                                               
DHSS.  The  department agreed  that  CRP  needs regulations,  but                                                               
questioned why CRP  wanted DHSS to write the  regulations as that                                                               
could be a constricting factor.                                                                                                 
DR. VADPALLI agreed  it could be a problem, but  pointed out that                                                               
the panel's relationship  with OCS is not just as  a watchdog; it                                                               
needs  to be  a  collaborative and  cooperative relationship.  He                                                               
concluded  that it  would be  fine  if the  department wrote  the                                                               
regulations  for  CRP.  The  commissioner  and  he  decided  that                                                               
because  he  teaches at  UAA  he  was  going  to teach  a  policy                                                               
analysis course and have students  work on regulations. The class                                                               
reviewed  how  eight  different  states  operate  and  looked  at                                                               
suggestions for  regulations for  Alaska. He  said the  class was                                                               
successful, but he has not finished the report yet.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  agreed  that   the  relationship  is  intertwined,                                                               
however,  part of  the issue  is the  funding allocation.  OCS is                                                               
also  funded through  DHSS and  their  budget has  been flat  for                                                               
several years, while CRP's budget has fluctuated.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:34:05 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI  said the  panel's budget  has been  $100,000 since                                                               
several years prior to 2012, except  for a decrease in FY2016. In                                                               
FY2016 the  new contract was  for $82,000 and the  panel's budget                                                               
was $100,000. In January, CRP  submitted a letter stating how the                                                               
money would  be used and  OCS said that  the money was  no longer                                                               
available for  the panel. That  equaled a $70,000 budget  cut for                                                               
the panel in the  middle of the year and they  were not ready for                                                               
it. Most of  the work they wanted to accomplish  was done because                                                               
most of the panel is made  up of volunteers. They could have done                                                               
more with full funding.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:35:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  said OCS is  the most emotional issue  he deals                                                               
with. He described three types  of parents his office deals with.                                                               
He wondered  if the  legislature has been  clear enough  with the                                                               
oversight  panel.  He  questioned  how  the  legislature  can  be                                                               
supportive with  statutory direction  and legislative  intent and                                                               
wished to understand their history with OCS and CRP.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:37:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON said he has  been involved with hundreds of families                                                               
and every  program in  OCS. He  stated he  would like  to address                                                               
this issue  and help  OCS with  family reunification  and custody                                                               
retention. He is looking at this  issue as an interim project. He                                                               
said he is open to  looking at the legislature's past involvement                                                               
with the issue.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:38:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  highlighted the  Beacon Hill program  that tries                                                               
to intercede  before it reaches  the point of separating  a child                                                               
from  a family.  Sometimes government  is not  the answer  to the                                                               
issue. She commended such programs.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:39:21 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH asked how people get appointed to the panel.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:39:36 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI said there is no  limit to the number of members on                                                               
the panel or on how long they  can serve. A person would apply to                                                               
the panel  and the  panel would decide  whether to  interview the                                                               
potential member.  Most applicants are accepted.  The panel makes                                                               
it  clear to  new members  that OCS  has a  mandate and  personal                                                               
opinions  do not  come into  play. New  members must  state their                                                               
personal biases and they must work together as a team.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:43:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked if there has  been a panel member that was                                                               
a parent from a successfully reunified family.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR.  VADAPALLI  didn't know,  but  said  there have  been  foster                                                               
parents and past  OCS employees on the panel. He  said he was the                                                               
first academic faculty.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:45:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON thanked Dr. Vadapalli for his work.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:45:53 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair  Wilson adjourned  the Senate  Health  and Social  Services                                                               
Standing Committee at 2:45 p.m.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
ACRP 2016 Annual Report.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
OCS Response ACRP 2016 Annual Report.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
ACRP 2016 Results Staff Survey.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
ACRP Panel Bios.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
ACRP Operating Guidelines.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
Senate HSS Presentation_03202017.ppt SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
Grand Jury Recommendations.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
2017 National CRP Conference Agenda_For public release_03092017.pdf SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP
Comments to the Senate HSS Committee Diwakar.docx SHSS 3/20/2017 1:30:00 PM
ACRP