Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/26/2018 01:30 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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01:30:29 PM Start
01:31:14 PM Citizen Review Panel Presentation on the Department of Health and Social Services Office of Children's Services
02:03:19 PM SB122
02:19:56 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation: DHSS Office of Children's Services TELECONFERENCED
Citizen Review Panel
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited and Public> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                    
                       February 26, 2018                                                                                        
                           1:30 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator David Wilson, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Natasha von Imhof, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL PRESENTATION ON THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH                                                                   
AND SOCIAL SERVICES OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES                                                                               
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 122                                                                                                             
"An  Act repealing  the authority  for a  child abuse  or neglect                                                               
citizen  review panel  in  the Department  of  Health and  Social                                                               
Services; and  establishing the  Child Protection  Citizen Review                                                               
Panel in the office of the ombudsman."                                                                                          
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 122                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: OCS CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL                                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) COGHILL                                                                                                  
05/17/17       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/17/17       (S)       HSS, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
02/26/18       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
DIWAKAR VADAPALLI, Ph.D., Chair                                                                                                 
Alaska Citizen Review Panel (CRP);                                                                                              
Assistant Professor of Public Policy                                                                                            
Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)                                                                                
University of Alaska Anchorage                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented Alaska Citizen Review Panel.                                                                    
RYNNIEVA MOSS, Staff                                                                                                            
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 122 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                
KATE BURKHART                                                                                                                   
State Ombudsman                                                                                                                 
Alaska Office of the Ombudsman                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 122.                                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:30:29 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, Begich,  von Imhoff,  and                                                               
Chair Wilson. Senator Micciche arrived soon thereafter.                                                                         
^Citizen Review  Panel Presentation  on the Department  of Health                                                               
and Social Services Office of Children's Services                                                                               
 CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL PRESENTATION ON THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH                                                              
       AND SOCIAL SERVICES OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES                                                                    
1:31:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  announced the business  before the  committee would                                                               
be a presentation from the Citizen Review Panel.                                                                                
1:31:42 PM                                                                                                                    
DIWAKAR  VADAPALLI, Ph.D.,  Chair,  Alaska  Citizen Review  Panel                                                               
(CRP)  and Assistant  Professor  of Public  Policy, Institute  of                                                               
Social  and  Economic  Research   (ISER),  University  of  Alaska                                                               
Anchorage, presented  Alaska Citizen Review Panel.  He noted that                                                               
this is his fifth year as chair of the panel.                                                                                   
He gave the presentation outline.                                                                                               
   • Goals and recommendations from 2016-2017                                                                                   
   • Goals for 2017-2018                                                                                                        
   • Recent attempts to improve CRP-OCS collaboration                                                                           
   • Way forward                                                                                                                
DR. VADAPALLI  said this  was the second  presentation in  the 15                                                               
years  of the  panel's existence.  In his  presentation, he  will                                                               
focus on  challenges that led to  SB 122. In a  letter last week,                                                               
Alaska's ombudsman  expressed support  for the potential  move of                                                               
the Citizen  Review Panel (CRP)  as intended  by SB 122.  He will                                                               
try to  present his views on  the work of  the CRP in a  way that                                                               
complements the bill.                                                                                                           
1:33:43 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI presented Goals 2015-2016.                                                                                        
   • GOAL 1: Explore the evolving relationships between Tribal                                                                
     organizations and OCS.                                                                                                     
   • GOAL 2: Review the implementation of the OCS grievance                                                                   
   • GOAL 3: Develop and disseminate public awareness materials                                                               
     on OCS' intake and IA processes                                                                                            
   • GOAL 4: Evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of the new                                                               
     administrative review process                                                                                              
The  CRP annual  work  plan is  available  at crpalaska.org.  The                                                               
goals  were   pursued  through  policy  review,   data  analysis,                                                               
discussions with more than 100  individuals in key positions, and                                                               
OCS  leadership. The  next  slides  will present  recommendations                                                               
that came from these goals.                                                                                                     
He presented OCS-Tribal Relationships.                                                                                          
     Recommendation   1:  Consider   assigning  the   CRP  a                                                                  
     significant  role  in   implementing  various  priority                                                                    
     areas  of  "Transforming  Child  Welfare  Outcomes  for                                                                    
     Alaska  Native  Children:  Strategic  Plan  2016-2020".                                                                    
     With its statutory authority, CRP  will be an asset for                                                                    
     OCS in implementing this strategic plan.                                                                                   
DR. VADAPALLI  said everyone is aware  that there has been  a lot                                                               
of  activity around  providing a  better structure  of OCS-tribal                                                               
relationships  and recognizing  the  inherent  ability of  Alaska                                                               
Native   tribes   to   address  endemic   challenges   of   child                                                               
maltreatment within their communities.  CRP has long been focused                                                               
with OCS-tribal  relationships. Specific recommendations  in past                                                               
years have  addressed the  structure of  OCS-tribal relationships                                                               
and the relationships on the  front lines between OCS workers and                                                               
tribal  ICWA [Indian  Child Welfare  Act] workers.  CRP has  been                                                               
surveying ICWA workers every year  about their relationships with                                                               
OCS workers. Although  CRP was not party to  the conversations in                                                               
preparation  of Transforming  Child Welfare  Outcomes for  Alaska                                                               
Native Children: Strategic Plan  2016-2020, the panel was invited                                                               
as  a stakeholder  to  participate in  work  groups to  implement                                                               
plans in the six priority  areas. That was a welcome development,                                                               
but this invitation  to participate in the  work group activities                                                               
implies that CRP  is a stakeholder group like any  other group or                                                               
individual  interested in  OCS. On  the  contrary, CRP  is not  a                                                               
stakeholder group. It  cannot dial in whenever  it is interested.                                                               
It  has  a  statutory  responsibility.   It  is  a  mechanism  to                                                               
facilitate public participation in OCS policy and practice.                                                                     
DR.  VADAPALLI  said  currently  CRP  has  been  engaged  in  the                                                               
community engagement work group, one  of the six work groups. The                                                               
work group  identified two specific  projects, a joint  effort to                                                               
survey  all  the  ICWA  workers   and  a  townhall  meeting  with                                                               
stakeholders  as  part   of  the  CRP  site   visits.  These  are                                                               
developing,  collaborative projects  between CRP  and OCS.  It is                                                               
accurate  to   say  that  CRP  identified   these  two  projects,                                                               
persuaded OCS, and is leading the effort to make them happen.                                                                   
1:37:12 PM                                                                                                                    
He presented the OCS Grievance Policy.                                                                                          
      Recommendation 2: Speed up the process and implement                                                                    
     the new tracking system by December 2017                                                                                   
    Recommendation   3:   Establish   adequate   connection                                                                   
      between a case file and any related grievances, with                                                                      
     necessary protection for worker identity.                                                                                  
     Recommendation  4: Publish  monthly  aggregate data  on                                                                  
     number   of  grievances   received,  nature   of  those                                                                    
     grievances, and time to  resolution of those grievances                                                                    
He  said  OCS   grievance  policy  continues  to   be  under  the                                                               
microscope  since  the  2012 ombudsman's  report  calling  for  a                                                               
complete overhaul.  CRP continues to hear  from stakeholders that                                                               
the new policy  is no more effective than the  old. That led them                                                               
to  examine the  policy  and implementation  in  2016. CRP  found                                                               
grievances are  not being tracked  from beginning to end,  as was                                                               
intended.  None of  information  collected  around grievances  is                                                               
public.  OCS  is waiting  for  a  software  update to  track  the                                                               
grievances and  their resolutions. CRP recommended  that there be                                                               
a link  between a  case file and  any associated  grievances with                                                               
adequate protections  for worker identity.  The logic is  that if                                                               
new workers  take over a  case, they  need to know  the grievance                                                               
history. Not knowing any grievance  history can be detrimental to                                                               
a  new  worker's  effectiveness.  Aggregate  data  on  grievances                                                               
should be available to the public.                                                                                              
DR. VADAPALLI  said grievances are often  considered confidential                                                               
and  most of  it is  not available  for public  view. There  is a                                                               
general perception that  all OCS data is  confidential. There are                                                               
ways  to ensure  confidentiality through  aggregate data--masking                                                               
anything  lower  than 20  (or  another  number) while  publishing                                                               
aggregate  data. In  research masking  numbers lower  than 20  is                                                               
common practice.                                                                                                                
He  said current  legislation specifies  certain data  indicators                                                               
that OCS must publish. The focus  of that legislation seems to be                                                               
forcing OCS to release certain  data. Instead, if OCS is required                                                               
to  publish all  data while  protecting individual  privacy, that                                                               
would allow  more public awareness  and knowledge of what  OCS is                                                               
working with, the challenges associated  with their work, and how                                                               
anyone can help them resolve those challenges.                                                                                  
1:40:34 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI presented CRP Structure and Functions.                                                                            
     Recommendation  5:   OCS  should   work  with   CRP  to                                                                  
     strengthen  CRP's ability  as  a  robust mechanism  for                                                                    
     public participation, and rely  on it to improve public                                                                    
     awareness of the nature and content of OCS work.                                                                           
     Recommendation 6: OCS should continue to work with CRP                                                                   
       to identify a clear working relationship under the                                                                       
     participatory evaluation framework.                                                                                        
He said these  two recommendations bring them to SB  122. CRP and                                                               
OCS have  had a  rocky relationship due  to multiple  factors. An                                                               
overwhelming  factor   is  the  lack  of   oversight  about  this                                                               
relationship.  CRP   existed  for   several  years   without  any                                                               
regulation, evolving  as its members  saw fit with a  budget that                                                               
was stuck  at $100,000 a year.  While Alaska CRP has  enjoyed the                                                               
attention of top leadership at  OCS and the legislature (no other                                                               
CRP  has   garnered  such   attention  consistently   across  the                                                               
country), it  has been  hard to  establish the  impact of  CRP in                                                               
Alaska. The purpose  of CRP and its relationship to  OCS has been                                                               
unclear  and haphazard.  Neither the  federal nor  state statutes                                                               
provide any specifics  on that issue. No one  ever questioned the                                                               
lack of  regulation of  CRP despite  a clear  legislative mandate                                                               
for such regulation.                                                                                                            
Every year  since 2002  OCS and  CRP religiously  submitted their                                                               
reports  on time.  The question  that was  seldom posed  was, "So                                                               
what?"  Recommendations  5 and  6  are  a  result of  posing  the                                                               
question. Alaska's  CRP had one  of the most  significant impacts                                                               
that any CRP could have had,  creation of the Western Region, but                                                               
not a  single document  acknowledges it or  a single  action that                                                               
built on that momentum. One  of the basic principles of community                                                               
action  is  to  ride  such momentum  toward  greater  impact.  It                                                               
appears that  each opportunity is  let go  and OCS notes  that it                                                               
cannot  burden  the CRP  system  further  because it  is  already                                                               
lacking in capacity.                                                                                                            
He  described  that reasoning  as  convoluted.  The state  should                                                               
invest in mechanisms that have a  proven record of success. It is                                                               
counterintuitive to back away from success.                                                                                     
1:43:15 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI  said the CRP  recommendations over the  years fall                                                               
into five categories:                                                                                                           
        • Quality Assurance                                                                                                     
        • Management                                                                                                            
        • Practice                                                                                                              
        • Public participation                                                                                                  
        • CRP's role and functions                                                                                              
He said  CRP, in addition to  the goals, digs into  things people                                                               
bring to their attention.                                                                                                       
     Other Work 2016-2017                                                                                                     
        • Backlog of IAs                                                                                                        
        • CRP reorientation and reorganization                                                                                  
             o Is CRP a stakeholder?                                                                                            
             o Is the current location most appropriate?                                                                        
             o Is the contract mechanism most meaningful?                                                                       
        • Organized and hosted the 2017 National CRP                                                                            
        • Grand Jury Investigation                                                                                              
He  said  in   addition  to  the  review  function,   CRP  has  a                                                               
substantial  outreach function  and  presents  to many  different                                                               
Sometimes they  outline what  CRP does  and sometimes  they reach                                                               
out to  a specific group. For  example, when they present  to the                                                               
Alaska Court Improvement  Project, they try to  impress upon that                                                               
group, which  consists of a  lot of  judges, that the  courts can                                                               
ask  CRP  to  examine  a  specific policy  that  they  see  as  a                                                               
     Work During 2016-2017: Outreach                                                                                          
        • Attended the two-day Casey Family Permanency Work                                                                     
          organized by OCS                                                                                                      
        • Presentation to:                                                                                                      
             o Resource Family Advisory Board                                                                                   
             o Children's Justice Act Task Force                                                                                
             o OCS senior leadership on reorienting Alaska                                                                      
             o BIA Providers Conference                                                                                         
             o Alaska Health Summit                                                                                             
             o Day-long workshop on CRP for ICWA workers                                                                        
             o Alaska Court Improvement Project                                                                                 
He said that when he presented to the Court Improvement Project,                                                                
it was clear that judges are not aware of the CRP and its role                                                                  
and potential.                                                                                                                  
1:45:44 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI presented the Goals for 2017-2018.                                                                                
        • GOAL 1:  Examine  the   effectiveness   of   the                                                                    
          current administrative review process (retained).                                                                     
        • GOAL 2:  Examine if 'family reunification' is                                                                       
          prioritized as a goal for children in out-of-home                                                                     
          placement, and OCS' efforts in pursuit of 'family                                                                     
        • GOAL 3:  Examine  OCS'    efforts   in   finding                                                                    
          relatives for placement of children in foster                                                                         
        • GOAL 4:  Expand Public Outreach in collaboration                                                                    
          with efforts under the Tribal-State strategic                                                                         
        • GOAL 5:  Strengthen the panel through aggressive                                                                    
          recruitment of new members, enhanced website, and                                                                     
         tools to reach diverse groups of stakeholders.                                                                         
1:45:55 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI presented Continual Challenges.                                                                                   
        • CRP's unclear role and responsibilities                                                                               
        • Minimal capacity to perform its statutory functions                                                                   
        • Unclear accountability                                                                                                
He  said  the current  coordinator  has  been proactive  and  has                                                               
gotten 11  members on the panel.  Last year when he  presented it                                                               
barely  had four.  He's happy  to see  the numbers  increase, but                                                               
they are all  volunteers and they cannot count on  that number as                                                               
definite  capacity  for the  panel,  so  staff capacity  is  very                                                               
important. The  budget has  been $100,000  for several  years. He                                                               
said  SB  122  addresses  the  accountability  issue  of  who  is                                                               
responsible  for overseeing  the  CRP and  its relationship  with                                                               
He presented  Functions-Mandates. He noted  that Alaska  does not                                                               
have local child protection agencies,  although some ICWA offices                                                               
function as that. That may change with tribal compacts with OCS.                                                                
     Federal Mandate (42 U.S.C. ? 5106a.(c)):                                                                                   
        – Examine the policies, procedures, and practices of                                                                
          state and local child  protection agencies and evaluate                                                       
          the  extent to  which  these  agencies are  effectively                                                               
          discharging their child protection responsibilities                                                                   
        – Conduct public outreach both to assess the impact of                                                              
          current policies and procedures,  and to solicit public                                                               
          comment on the panel's recommendations.                                                                               
     State Mandate (AS 47.14.205):                                                                                              
          "The CRP  shall examine  the policies,  procedures, and                                                               
          practices  of  State  and   local  agencies  and  where                                                               
          appropriate, specific cases, to  evaluate the extent to                                                           
          which State and local  child protection system agencies                                                               
          are    effectively    discharging   their    protection                                                               
DR. VADAPALLI  said these mandates  do not mention  advocacy, but                                                               
it is clear that CRP has an advocacy role.                                                                                      
1:48:22 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI said to sum up  Primary Functions, this is what the                                                               
panel is supposed to do:                                                                                                        
     Central focus                                                                                                            
        • Policies, procedures, and practices of OCS                                                                            
     Review/Evaluate (from statute):                                                                                          
        • States' CAPTA Plan                                                                                                    
        • Child protection standards                                                                                            
        • And any other criteria that the Panel considers                                                                       
     Conduct public outreach (from statute):                                                                                  
        • Assess the impact of OCS policies, procedures, and                                                                    
          practices on children and families                                                                                    
        • This assessment should inform its review function                                                                     
     Advocate for (from congressional record):                                                                                
        • Relevant changes based on its review                                                                                  
He presented Central Purpose.                                                                                                   
        • Congress created CRPs to help child protection systems                                                              
          be more responsive to community needs.                                                                                
        • A CRP is a mechanism for public participation in child                                                              
        • It  should   facilitate    robust   and    meaningful                                                                 
          participation by citizens in diverse roles.                                                                           
        • Those diverse roles will be performing the three                                                                      
DR.  VADAPALLI  said  that  the   role  of  CRPs  to  help  child                                                               
protection systems is  often lost in contention  between CRPs and                                                               
child protection agencies.                                                                                                      
1:48:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON noted the presence of Senator Micciche.                                                                            
CHAIR  WILSON   asked,  considering  the  federal   mandates  for                                                               
policies  and procedures  for state  and  local child  protection                                                               
agencies,  whether CRP  has looked  at expanding  that role  with                                                               
OCS,  considering the  tribal compact  agreements give  that role                                                               
and authority to local tribes.                                                                                                  
DR.  VADAPALLI   said  CRP  was   not  party  to  any   of  those                                                               
conversations for the current memorandum  of agreement. They were                                                               
aware  of those  conversations, but  CRP was  not invited  to the                                                               
discussion, so he cannot address how CRP might be involved.                                                                     
CHAIR WILSON said  the question around federal  mandates might be                                                               
a  question  for the  department.  He  said the  federal  mandate                                                               
refers to  state and  local child  protection agencies  (CPA). In                                                               
other states  there are  county-based child  protection agencies,                                                               
such as in  North Carolina. Alaska has  no state-authorized child                                                               
protection agencies. To  the extent that tribes work  with OCS in                                                               
performing  these  functions, CRP  has  a  role,  but it  is  not                                                               
clearly defined or discussed yet  to operationalize it. CRP meets                                                               
with  tribal partners  to ask  about CPA  practices. They  do not                                                               
oversee or examine what the tribal offices do.                                                                                  
1:52:01 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI presented Functions--What CRP  Does Not Do. He said                                                               
it is  often easier to  present on what CRP  does not do  than on                                                               
what it does.                                                                                                                   
        • Comment on proposed or pending legislation                                                                            
        • Get involved in individual cases, contract, or                                                                        
        • Micromanage OCS operations                                                                                            
        • Program evaluation                                                                                                    
        • Lobby                                                                                                                 
He  presented  Ecosystem of  CRP.  CRP  connects with  the  court                                                               
system,  state administration,  and legislature.  He said  CRP is                                                               
located  somewhere between  the CPS  [child protective  services]                                                               
agency  and the  community because  it is  not quite  a community                                                               
agency. Its  responsibility is to create  a forum that is  a safe                                                               
space  where all  parties can  engage. OCS  is not  the focus  of                                                               
review but  party to that  review conversation. The focus  is the                                                               
CPS enterprise  as a whole,  with everyone with their  own roles.                                                               
CRP  brings   all  the  parties   together  for   a  constructive                                                               
conversation to  resolve challenges involving all  parties. It is                                                               
often  misunderstood  that CRP  is  overviewing  OCS. This  is  a                                                               
slight mischaracterization of  what CRP should be  doing. He said                                                               
the illustration  of three  wheels is an  easy way  to understand                                                               
what CRP  does. CRP's job  is to check  that the three  wheels of                                                               
policy, practice, and needs of  children and families are turning                                                               
as expected. The questions to ask  are these: What is supposed to                                                               
be done? What is actually done? What is needed?                                                                                 
He  gave an  example of  the CRP  ecosystem from  last year  when                                                               
Representative Tammie  Wilson of  North Pole  called for  a grand                                                               
jury   investigation   of   OCS.   The   grand   jury   had   two                                                               
recommendations  after   going  through  the   documentation  she                                                               
submitted.  One was  for the  Ombudsman's Office  to take  on the                                                               
relevant review and  the other was for CRP to  pick up the review                                                               
process   that   Representative   Wilson  was   requesting.   The                                                               
Ombudsman's   Office    has   the   authority,   CRP    has   the                                                               
responsibility. They asked the  grand jury corresponding attorney                                                               
if this  language was by  choice or  accident. It was  clearly by                                                               
choice.  CRP has  statutory role  that it  needs to  perform. CRP                                                               
took  the documentation  that Representative  Wilson took  to the                                                               
grand jury  and identified  five basic topics  that CRP  could be                                                               
looking at.                                                                                                                     
1:56:06 PM                                                                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI said as a  result of the grand jury recommendation,                                                               
CRP has Goal 2, Examine  if 'family reunification' is prioritized                                                               
as  a  goal  for  children in  out-of-home  placement,  and  OCS'                                                               
efforts in pursuit of 'family  reunification' and Goal 3, Examine                                                               
OCS' efforts  in finding relatives  for placement of  children in                                                               
foster care. These  are well within the scope of  CRP. That is an                                                               
illustration of  how CRP  can fit  in with  the court  process or                                                               
other investigative mechanisms.                                                                                                 
He said  they are  working on  how CRP can  better relate  to OCS                                                               
with three parallel approaches.                                                                                                 
        – Legislative approach                                                                                                  
             • SB 122                                                                                                           
        – Agency approach:                                                                                                      
             • Instituting regulations                                                                                          
             • Identifying a framework for better working                                                                       
SENATOR BEGICH  asked if CRP  makes an exception to  not lobbying                                                               
or  commenting on  legislation when  it comes  to defining  their                                                               
future role, since that is part of the legislative approach.                                                                    
DR. VADAPALLI acknowledged that it  is a contradictory issue when                                                               
they say they don't comment  on legislation but are commenting on                                                               
this. The  reason is that  there is  no authority better  able to                                                               
comment than  the authority  performing the  function, if  not to                                                               
influence then to inform.                                                                                                       
He said the key  feature of SB 122 is to move the  CRP out of OCS                                                               
into  the   Ombudsman's  Office.  While  that   may  help,  other                                                               
challenges  need to  be addressed.  The Ombudsman's  Office is  a                                                               
review or evaluation mechanism. It  does not have the outreach or                                                               
advocacy function that  CRP has. If SB 122  passes, those details                                                               
of  how those  can be  performed by  CRP need  to be  worked out.                                                               
Although there are some concerns  about undue influence of OCS on                                                               
CRP  processes, CRP  does enjoy  autonomy that  many CRPs  do not                                                               
have. Alaska  is better off  for it  and that autonomy  should be                                                               
preserved and enhanced. The most  important challenge is that the                                                               
path  that led  to SB  122  is the  lack of  oversight over  this                                                               
enterprise. There has  been no consistent oversight  over CRP and                                                               
its relationship to  OCS. If the CRP is moved  to the Ombudsman's                                                               
Office, he asked  how will oversight be ensured and  who will ask                                                               
the "so what" questions.                                                                                                        
2:01:57 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
                SB 122-OCS CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL                                                                             
2:03:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   WILSON  reconvened   the   meeting   and  announced   the                                                               
consideration of SB 122.                                                                                                        
2:03:43 PM                                                                                                                    
RYNNIEVA  MOSS,   Staff,  Senator  John  Coghill,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, presented SB 122 on behalf  of the sponsor. It is An                                                               
Act repealing the  authority for a child abuse  or neglect review                                                               
panel  in  DHSS and  establishing  the  Child Protection  Citizen                                                               
Review Panel in the office of the ombudsman.                                                                                    
     Section 1:                                                                                                               
     AS 24.55.400.  Establishes the Citizen  Review Panel  in the                                                             
     legislative branch of  state government under the  office of                                                               
     the ombudsman  and instructs the  panel to  emphasize public                                                               
     participation  in the  panel's  work and  to  bring all  the                                                               
     stake holders on the panel.                                                                                                
     The panel will meet at least every  three months and it will                                                               
     establish guidelines for its operation.                                                                                    
     Gives  the panel  the  authority  to investigate  individual                                                               
     cases if it deems necessary.                                                                                               
     AS 24.55.405.  Requires the  panel to  reviews policies  and                                                             
     procedures  of OCS  on an  annual basis  and review  reports                                                               
     submitted annually to  the federal government. The  panel is                                                               
     given  statutory authority  to  recommend and  advocate  for                                                               
     changes to the department's child protection services.                                                                     
     It  requires OCS  to  provide the  CRP  the following  state                                                               
     plans submitted to the federal government annually:                                                                        
          State plan for grants for child abuse or neglect                                                                      
          prevention and treatment programs. (42 U.S.C. 5106a(b))                                                               
          State plan for delivery of child welfare services                                                                     
          prepared jointly by the state and the Secretary of                                                                    
          Health and Human Services. (42 U.S.C. 621  629m)                                                                      
     AS 24.55.410. Mandates  that OCS SHALL consult with  the CRP                                                             
     and assist the  panel in carrying out its  duties, including                                                               
     providing case-specific information to the panel.                                                                          
     AS 24.55.415. Makes  information delivered at a  CRP meeting                                                             
     confidential and the  CRP must follow the Open  Meetings Act                                                               
     giving public  notice and restricting  the CRP  members from                                                               
     meeting privately.                                                                                                         
     AS 24.55.420. Provides for public outreach and public                                                                    
     AS  24.55.425. Provides  for the  CRP to  prepare an  annual                                                             
     report  to be  available to  the  governor, legislature  and                                                               
     public. Requires  OCS to  submit a  written response to  the                                                               
     report within six months of  its release. Requires the panel                                                               
     and  the  department  to  prepare  a  joint  report  to  the                                                               
     governor, legislature and public every three years.                                                                        
     AS  24.55.430. Sets  a  penalty of  up  to  $2,500 for  each                                                             
     violation of confidentiality a person is convicted of.                                                                     
     AS 24.55.435.  Provides  immunity  for  panel  members  from                                                             
     liability in panel actions.                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.440. Definitions.                                                                                               
         Department is the DHSS.                                                                                                
         Panel is the Citizens Review Panel                                                                                     
     Section  2:  Gives  the   CRP  access  to  confidential                                                                  
     documents regarding child protection cases.                                                                                
     Section  3: Repeals  the Alaska  Statutes that  put the                                                                  
     CRP under the jurisdiction of DHSS.                                                                                        
     Section 4:  Requires DHSS  to do  a two-year  review of                                                                  
     existing  processes for  reviewing  and overseeing  the                                                                    
     work of  OCS and outline  a plan to  reduce duplication                                                                    
     and improved coordination  amongst agencies involved in                                                                    
     child protection.  The report will be  delivered to the                                                                    
     senate secretary, house chief clerk, the governor and                                                                      
     the general public.                                                                                                        
          Section 5: Gives the office of the ombudsman                                                                        
     regulatory authority.                                                                                                      
      Section 6: Transition language that allows existing                                                                     
       panel members to serve out their term on the panel                                                                       
     even though it has been moved from the department.                                                                         
     The bill does not have an effective date.                                                                                  
2:07:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS said this bill is  not pointing fingers at anyone saying                                                               
they  are  not  doing  their  job.  It  is  saying  that  CRP  is                                                               
underutilized and misunderstood and  needs to be utilized better.                                                               
In 2005,  when Senator Coghill  carried House  Bill 53, it  was a                                                               
direct result  of working with  the Murkowski  administration and                                                               
CRP to take an objective look at  OCS to see what was working and                                                               
what was not working.  It is because of CRP they  been able to do                                                               
some reforms with OCS and the child protection system.                                                                          
SENATOR  GIESSEL  asked  if  the panel  falls  under  Boards  and                                                               
Commission and if the members are governor appointed.                                                                           
MS. MOSS answered no and yes.                                                                                                   
SENATOR GIESSEL said the membership  of boards and commissions is                                                               
generally  well defined  to provide  diversity. She  suggested it                                                               
might lend more credibility and  force if the membership had more                                                               
MS. MOSS said  that is a good  point. She added that  she was not                                                               
sure whether the governor appoints panel members.                                                                               
2:10:35 PM                                                                                                                    
KATE BURKHART,  State Ombudsman, Alaska Office  of the Ombudsman,                                                               
commented on  SB 122. She  said she  has spoken to  Dr. Vadapalli                                                               
and the  leadership at OCS to  see how this would  work. Prior to                                                               
her  appointment  as ombudsman,  she  was  executive director  of                                                               
three  autonomous, co-located  state  planning  councils. She  is                                                               
familiar with  how co-location can work  without jeopardizing the                                                               
autonomy of the  organizations. She has plenty of  comments on SB
122.  At  the  start  of   the  conversation,  understanding  the                                                               
benefits and pitfalls of co-location is important.                                                                              
MS.  BURKHART said  co-location requires  alignment of  missions,                                                               
which is  set by the  legislature in  this case. The  missions of                                                               
the Ombudsman's Office and CRP are  in many ways aligned, but not                                                               
always.  It  requires  a  commitment  of  the  membership  and  a                                                               
commitment to shared values. It  requires rigorous management and                                                               
adequate resources. SB 122 hopefully  will include clear guidance                                                               
on how  the Ombudsman's Office can  provide management assistance                                                               
and not just be a fiscal  agent. She sees this perhaps managed as                                                               
a separate RDU  in the budget so there is  a clear accountability                                                               
on the use  of funds with no comingling of  funds. That speaks to                                                               
the  accountability and  "so what"  questions that  Dr. Vadapalli                                                               
talked about.  It does  require staff  and management.  While the                                                               
Ombudsman's Office  does not have  staff to dedicate, there  is a                                                               
way to  manage in partnership  with CRP,  such as with  the state                                                               
council on behavioral health.                                                                                                   
She said  she does not  know that  the Ombudsman's Office  is the                                                               
only place to house the CRP, but  it is one place. If SB 122 were                                                               
to pass, her  office could promulgate regulation  within a fiscal                                                               
year. The Ombudsman's Office operates  with regulations and would                                                               
want to do that with the CRP also.                                                                                              
2:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  asked if  OCS  does  not  complete the  task  of                                                               
writing regulations,  which it has  not done since  2015, whether                                                               
her  office  would  have  the ability  to  rapidly  complete  the                                                               
regulatory writing process.                                                                                                     
MS. BURKHART  said it would take  a full fiscal year.  Her office                                                               
has multiple people with legal  backgrounds and experience with a                                                               
recent comprehensive regulatory overwrite of their office.                                                                      
CHAIR  WILSON  asked  which  areas   of  DHSS  have  received  an                                                               
increased number of complaints.                                                                                                 
MS.  BURKHART said  within DHSS,  the most  complaints have  been                                                               
received about  OCS and  the Division  of Public  Assistance. She                                                               
did not  have the report with  her, but thought there  were about                                                               
200 some complaints for each of the divisions.                                                                                  
CHAIR WILSON said  he could see people saying that  her office is                                                               
trying   to  influence   CRP  through   investigations  on   that                                                               
MS.  BURKHART said  the  ombudsman  has rigorous  confidentiality                                                               
standards and  any complaints about  OCS remain  confidential. If                                                               
SB 122  were to  pass and a  CRP staff member  is in  the office,                                                               
that  person would  not  have access  to  that information.  That                                                               
person would have the same  access to aggregate data available in                                                               
reports.  She  has  talked  with   Information  Services  at  the                                                               
Legislative Affairs  Agency about separate hosting,  so CRP staff                                                               
would  not  have access  to  their  servers and  case  management                                                               
system.  She is  used to  the idea  of a  strong wall  to prevent                                                               
conflict. They would create infrastructure  and processes to make                                                               
sure CRP staff person was not privy to that information.                                                                        
2:19:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  said the  committee looked  forward to  getting the                                                               
fiscal note. He held SB 122 in committee.                                                                                       
2:19:56 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair  Wilson adjourned  the Senate  Health  and Social  Services                                                               
Standing Committee at 2:19 p.m.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 122 Version J.pdf SHSS 2/26/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 Sponsor Statement.pdf SHSS 2/26/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 Sectional Analysis.pdf SHSS 2/26/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - CItizens Review Panel Power Point.pptx SHSS 2/26/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
senate hss presentation_02262018.ppt SHSS 2/26/2018 1:30:00 PM