Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/04/1998 03:35 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
              SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE                                       
                      May 4,1998                                               
                      3:35 p.m.                                                
                                                                               
                                                                               
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
                                                                               
Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman                                                 
Senator Mike Miller                                                            
Senator Sean Parnell                                                           
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                           
                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
                                                                               
Senator Drue Pearce, Vice-Chair                                                
                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 272                                                            
"An Act relating to children in need of aid matters and                        
proceedings; relating to murder of children, criminally negligent              
homicide, kidnaping, criminal nonsupport, the crime of indecent                
exposure, and the crime of endangering the welfare of a child;                 
relating to registration of certain sex offenders; relating to                 
sentencing for certain crimes involving child victims; relating to             
the state medical examiner and reviews of child fatalities;                    
relating to teacher certification and convictions of crimes                    
involving child victims; relating to access, confidentiality, and              
release of certain information concerning the care of children,                
child abuse and neglect, and child fatalities; authorizing the                 
Department of Health and Social Services to enter into an                      
interstate compact concerning adoption and medical assistance for              
certain children with special needs; authorizing the establishment             
of a multidisciplinary child protection team to review reports of              
child abuse or neglect; relating to immunity from liability for                
certain state actions concerning matters involving child protection            
and fatality reviews and children in need of aid; relating to                  
persons required to report suspected child abuse or neglect;                   
relating to foster care placement and to payment for children in               
foster and other care and the waiver of certain foster care                    
requirements; relating to the access to certain criminal justice               
information and licensure of certain child care facilities;                    
amending Rule 218, Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure; amending               
Rules 1, 3, 15, 18, and 19, Alaska Child in Need of Aid Rules; and             
providing for an effective date."                                              
                                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
HB 406 - SUBSISTENCE USES OF FISH AND GAME                                     
       - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                               
SB 237 - COUNCIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT                            
       - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                               
HB 375 - CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN/FOSTER CARE                                   
       - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                               
                                                                               
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
                                                                               
SB 272 - See HESS minutes dated 4/8/98.                                        
                                                                               
HB 406 - See Judiciary minutes dated 4/25/98 and 5/1/98.                       
                                                                               
SB 237 - See HESS minutes dated 3/4/98, 4/3/98 & 4/6/98.                       
                                                                               
HB 375 - No previous Senate committee action.                                  
                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
                                                                               
Jayne Andreen                                                                  
Executive Director                                                             
Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                
Department of Public Safety                                                    
PO Box 111200                                                                  
Juneau, AK  99811                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 272                                       
                                                                               
Brant McGee                                                                    
Office of the Public Defender                                                  
Department of Administration                                                   
900 W 5th                                                                      
Anchorage, AK  99501                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented and supports SB 272                             
                                                                               
Lisa B Nelson                                                                  
Assistant Attorney General                                                     
Department of Law                                                              
1031 W 4h                                                                      
Anchorage, AK                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 272                                           
                                                                               
Representative Fred Dyson                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, AK  99811                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained portions of SB 272                              
                                                                               
Marci Schmidt                                                                  
Parents United for Custodial Justice                                           
2040 Wasilla Fishhook Rd                                                       
Wasilla, AK  99654                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 272                                       
                                                                               
Diana Buffington                                                               
Children's Rights Council                                                      
217 Maple                                                                      
Kodiak, AK  99615                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 272                                         
                                                                               
Walter Gauthier                                                                
Guardians of Family Rights                                                     
PO Box 2246                                                                    
Homer, AK  99603                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 272                                       
                                                                               
Chief Shirley Warner                                                           
Soldotna Police Department                                                     
44510 Sterling Highway                                                         
Soldotna, AK  99669                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 272                                           
                                                                               
Shelle Leman                                                                   
PO Box 929                                                                     
Kasilof, AK  99610                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 272                                        
                                                                               
Barbara Malchick                                                               
Office of Public Advocacy                                                      
Department of Administration                                                   
900 W 5th                                                                      
Anchorage, AK  99501                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 272                                           
                                                                               
Carol Palmer                                                                   
PO Box 2402                                                                    
Palmer, AK  99645                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:  Only supports provisions of SB 272                        
required by federal law.                                                       
                                                                               
Kathy Marquette                                                                
1620 Washington  Apt. 55                                                       
Fairbanks, AK  99709                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 272                                       
                                                                               
Martha Hodson                                                                  
Guardian of Family Rights                                                      
PO Box 3687                                                                    
Kenai, AK  99611                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 272                                       
                                                                               
Gloria Stuart                                                                  
PO Box 770                                                                     
Homer, AK  99603                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed her experience with DFYS as a foster            
parent                                                                         
                                                                               
Lieutenant Bill Gifford                                                        
Anchorage Police Department                                                    
4501 S Bragaw                                                                  
Anchorage, AK  99507                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 272                                           
                                                                               
Scott Calder                                                                   
PO Box 75011                                                                   
Fairbanks, AK  99707                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 272                                         
                                                                               
Barbara Hollenback                                                             
Anchorage Police Department                                                    
4501 S Bragaw                                                                  
Anchorage, AK  99507                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 272                                           
                                                                               
Lieutenance Simon Brown                                                        
Anchorage Police Department                                                    
4500 W 50th Ave                                                                
Anchorage, AK  99502                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 272                                           
                                                                               
Anne Carpeneti                                                                 
Department of Law                                                              
PO Box 110300                                                                  
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Suggested a technical correction to SB 272                
                                                                               
Suzette Graham                                                                 
PO Box 383                                                                     
Nikiski, AK 99635                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 272                                        
                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
                                                                               
TAPE 98-49, SIDE A                                                             
Number 001                                                                     
           SB 272 - CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN/FOSTER CARE                        
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR called the Judiciary Committee meeting to                
order at 3:35 p.m.  The first order of business before the                     
committee was SB 272.  Chairman Taylor informed committee members              
he did not schedule this legislation earlier because he hoped to               
schedule it simultaneously with HB 375.  He noted two sections of              
the House legislation have already passed; those sections have                 
already been deleted from SB 272.                                              
                                                                               
Number 043                                                                     
                                                                               
BRANT MCGEE, Office of Public Advocacy (OPA), discussed the history            
of SB 272.  OPA filed some legal motions last fall that told the               
stories of five abused children.  The inescapable conclusion from              
those stories was that those children were failed miserably by                 
Alaska's child protection system.  As a result, the Division of                
Family and Youth Services (DFYS), public defenders, assistant                  
attorneys general, assistant public advocates, judges, and others,             
including Representative Fred Dyson, joined forces and made many               
decisions about policies, procedures, resources, and changes to the            
law regarding child protective services.  SB 272 represents the                
best thinking of dozens of people who have worked in the system.               
SB 272 contains two themes:  time and accountability.  SB 272                  
imposes new time lines; time lines based more on a child's sense of            
time.  SB 272 requires the agencies involved to take quicker action            
to return the child to its home or to place the child with a                   
relative or in another adoptive services.  SB 272 also requires                
DFYS to provide timely services to promote reunification of the                
family. If those services are unsuccessful, timely efforts must be             
made to find a permanent home for the child.  SB 272 provides all              
of the legal safeguards provided to parents in the past, however               
now parents have only one year to get treatment and make the                   
changes necessary to safely parent their children.  Parents can no             
longer wait until the eve of a termination trial to begin                      
treatment.  SB 272 requires the courts to conduct adjudication                 
hearings within 120 days.  Permanency hearings must be conducted               
within one year, and decisions at the trial level and appellate                
court level must be made in a timely manner.  That provision is                
particularly important to people who work within the system.                   
Federal requirements mandate that the state take action if the                 
child has been out of the home for 15 out of the last 22 months.               
SB 272 mandates that within six months after initiating the action,            
a trial must be held.  The judge then has 90 days to issue a                   
decision, and the Supreme Court must issue its decision within 90              
days after that.  SB 272 puts the system on very strict guidelines,            
creating a child protection system rather than a bureaucracy                   
protection system.                                                             
                                                                               
MR. MCGEE explained SB 272 emphasizes that the children's needs are            
paramount.  Children will no longer have to spend years in foster              
care while their parents are given many chances to make changes.               
The state will do its very best to find a safe, permanent home for             
those children.                                                                
                                                                               
Number 125                                                                     
                                                                               
LISA NELSON,  Chief of the Human Services Section, Department of               
Law(DOL), explained her section handles all of the child protection            
cases and juvenile delinquency prosecution. She stressed the                   
importance of passing SB 272 and made the following comments.  Each            
of the seven attorneys in her section has a caseload of about 100              
cases. She became part of the child protection review team after               
the August incidents were published in the newspapers, alleging                
that DOL had not stepped in on several child protection cases in a             
timely manner.  DOL had been adhering to a philosophy to preserve              
the family at all costs.  In the case that caused all of the                   
parties to come together to review problems in the child protection            
arena, 18 reports of abuse had been filed.                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL questioned whether DOL responded to the 18 reports             
of abuse.                                                                      
                                                                               
MS. NELSON replied DOL investigated each report but approached each            
report by trying to "fix" the family by doing things like removing             
the abusive person from the home with the goal of keeping the                  
children in the home.  She said although that philosophy is                    
admirable, there is a point where parents cannot be given any more             
chances.  DOL is now taking quicker action and allowing court                  
intervention earlier which means that a judge, guardian ad litem,              
and attorneys get involved.  Court intervention provides for an                
extra hammer: it does not mean immediate removal from the home.                
                                                                               
Aside from the Anchorage crisis, MS. NELSON explained Supreme Court            
decisions had been issued that recommended the Legislature clarify             
the child protection statutes.  Additionally, a change in federal              
law provided for more protection for children.  A legislative audit            
also recommended the statutes be changed.                                      
                                                                               
MS. NELSON discussed the changes SB 272 will make to civil law.  It            
allows for earlier court intervention in cases of abuse and neglect            
and quicker placement of children into safe homes.  She admitted               
termination petitions sat in her office because she did not have               
the time to get them done.  Once the child was in a foster home and            
relatively safe, the petitions became a lower priority, however the            
new federal law requires faster placement into safe homes. She                 
noted Alaska is in a catch-up mode in comparison to other states               
regarding changing its focus to making the safety of the child the             
top priority.  SB 272 still requires the state to make reasonable              
efforts to reunify the family, however the federal law specifies               
certain kinds of offenders that require no reasonable efforts.  SB
272 contains deadlines that will require action by a date certain,             
so that determinations can no longer sit.  It also establishes                 
procedures for criminal record checks of adoptive or foster parents            
before placement can take place and it allows foster parents and               
other caregivers to take part in child welfare hearings.                       
                                                                               
Number 308                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked Ms. Nelson to explain the provisions that                
begin on page 36 that pertain to the termination of parental                   
rights.                                                                        
                                                                               
MS. NELSON explained that once probable cause to believe that a                
child should be considered a Child in Need of Aid (CINA) on a                  
temporary basis has been established, an adjudication must occur               
within 120 days.  A disposition then occurs, and termination of                
parental rights is one option.  That usually occurs if the parents             
have taken no action to correct the situation.  A petition to                  
terminate parental rights is then filed stating a detailed history             
of the case, and a trial takes place.  The state is required to                
prove, with clear and convincing evidence, that the child has been             
subjected to conditions or conduct described in AS 47.10.011,                  
during any time period.                                                        
                                                                               
Number 354                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked if one of the 12 types of conduct described              
in AS 47.10.011 must be proved.                                                
                                                                               
MS. NELSON said DOL is usually required to prove three or four,                
because if only one conduct is proven, the case could easily be                
over if appealed.  DOL must also prove that the parent has not                 
remedied the conduct or conditions in the home that placed the                 
child in harm.  Often, when a termination petition date approaches,            
parents finally enter treatment.                                               
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked what would happen under SB 272 in such a                 
situation.                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. NELSON said if a parent does nothing for two years and goes                
into treatment two weeks before the trial starts, she would try to             
convince the court that the person has not remedied the conduct.               
She suggested including the phrase, "within a reasonable time" in              
the bill to clarify the intent.  She noted the possibility of                  
relapse is high for people who attempt treatment for the first                 
time.                                                                          
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked if, the parents' counsel files a motion to               
continue parental rights and the parents go into treatment, the                
court can terminate the continuance so that parents cannot keep                
requesting a little more time.                                                 
                                                                               
MS. NELSON replied the federal law mandates DOL to file a petition             
if a child has been in foster care for at least 15 of the most                 
recent 22 months.  She thought a judge would look at the federal               
intent and deny continuance on that basis.                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked how many notices of court hearings a person              
would get before they would be denied.                                         
                                                                               
Number 405                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. NELSON answered at a minimum, five.  She repeated DOL would                
have to prove, with a preponderance of evidence, that the state has            
made reasonable efforts to work with the parents to correct the                
problems at home.                                                              
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked whether SB 272 contains a provision requiring            
accountability for mismanagement.                                              
                                                                               
MS. NELSON replied if a child dies due to mismanagement, one could             
turn to the criminal justice system.  She noted many social workers            
use their best judgment but sometimes misread a situation.                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR referred to the case in which 18 reports of abuse              
were filed, and said it appears the case worker was turning his/her            
back to the facts, which resulted in a tragedy.  He stated the                 
problem is not entirely due to a philosophical bend to reunify the             
family.                                                                        
                                                                               
Number 444                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. NELSON indicated that currently, out of 100 of percent of the              
cases that are classified as priority 3's, only 10 percent go to               
court, and only a small percentage of those cases result in removal            
of the child from the home.                                                    
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR expressed concern that Alaska's statistics on                  
foster care placement are much higher than ever before, and much               
higher than other states.  That increase is caused by a management             
decision and philosophy.  He questioned why the extra 30 or 40                 
social worker positions funded last year were not filled, and                  
instead the Legislature is being told the problem is with the laws.            
He disagreed that the entire problem is caused by current statutes             
and emphasized that resolution of the problem will take an effort              
on both sides.                                                                 
                                                                               
Number 470                                                                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON noted the State of Kansas has been doing some             
exceptional work in this area.  Month to month agency                          
accountability is required.  He has asked DFYS to report by month              
the number of children in state custody, the number of placements,             
and the aging of the number of children in the system.  DFYS has               
agreed to provide that information, and to post it on a web page.              
He thought the Senate's attempt to require accountability in                   
connection with the budget process is ingenious.                               
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated he was one of the original sponsors of a law            
that created citizen review panels.  They have never been funded,              
and DFYS has fought them every inch of the way.  The intent was to             
have non-state employed people review the placements.                          
                                                                               
Number 505                                                                     
                                                                               
DIANA BUFFINGTON, representing the Children's Rights Council,                  
testified via teleconference.  She represents over 6500 families               
who have been involved with DFYS, the GLA, and DOL.  SB 272 is a               
bad bill and it has been misrepresented by DOL and Representative              
Dyson.  Only about six pages of SB 272 are required by the adoption            
of the federal Safe Families Act.  She did not believe only eight              
to ten children died from natural deaths rather than homicides.                
The state fatality team meets and investigates in secret.  Its                 
reporters are not compelled to testify, and information and                    
evidence is not required to be entered into court.  The                        
multidisciplinary team, established by SB 272, would also meet in              
secret.  The majority of its members are appointed by the court who            
are not compelled to testify and no information is required to be              
entered into evidence.  She urged legislators to limit the                     
provisions of the bill to the amount of time a child can remain in             
custody and to facilitate termination of parental rights.  Agencies            
should be required to abide by a standard of duty similar to that              
being imposed on parents.                                                      
                                                                               
Number 562                                                                     
                                                                               
MARCI SCHMIDT, representing Parents United for Custodial Justice               
and Hear My Voice, a national child's advocacy organization that               
advocated for the federal law, gave the following testimony.  The              
intent of the Adoption and Safe Families Act is: to curtail the                
power struggles that occur in agencies like DFYS; to set a time                
limit to complete reunification or terminate parental rights so                
that a child can have a safe home; and to define "reasonable                   
efforts" and allow foster parents to have a voice about the                    
children they care for.  The Adoption and Safe Families Act was not            
invented to create more task forces, immunity or confidentiality.              
DFYS has such a bad reputation because it hides behind                         
confidentiality, especially when it benefits DFYS.                             
                                                                               
TAPE 98-49                                                                     
Side B                                                                         
                                                                               
MS. SCHMIDT asked committee members to pass only the portions of SB
272 that are required by the Adoption and Safe Families Act.                   
                                                                               
Number 570                                                                     
                                                                               
WALTER GAUTHIER, representing Guardians of Family Rights in Homer,             
gave the following testimony via teleconference.  Alaska does not              
have the highest child abuse rate in the nation: the latest federal            
statistics rank Alaska at number 14.  The legislative audit of DFYS            
reports that job applicants, despite scoring well, were not                    
considered desirable candidates by hiring managers, that 21                    
positions were left vacant for FY 97, and as a result, DFYS has                
sufficient funding to cover retirement incentive program costs for             
DFYS and other agencies within DHSS.  This crisis in child abuse               
was purposefully manufactured to achieve legislative and budgetary             
goals.                                                                         
                                                                               
MR. GAUTHIER stated that Ms. Wibker inaccurately testified before              
the HESS committee that 30 pages of SB 272 are required by federal             
law.  Federal requirements only require five pages of SB 272, the              
remaining pages cover time lines for termination and adoption that             
no one is arguing with.  Guardians of Family Rights' disagrees with            
the increased powers and immunity, and budgets for participating               
agencies provided for in SB 272.  Representative Dyson's assertion             
that the state will lose $10 million in federal funds this year if             
SB 272 does not pass is inaccurate.  No state has ever been denied             
Title IV funds.  Those funds would only be lost if the state                   
refused to comply with the actual requirements of the Adoption and             
Safe Family Act.  He asked the Legislature to wait until a second              
audit being conducted by Legislative Budget and Audit, that focuses            
on compliance with policy and procedure, is completed, before it               
takes any action on legislation.  He pointed out SB 272 has no                 
accompanying fiscal note.                                                      
                                                                               
Number 480                                                                     
                                                                               
CHIEF SHIRLEY WARNER, Soldotna Police Department and former                    
detective for the Anchorage Police Department, discussed her                   
experience with child abuse cases.  SB 272 will provide protection             
to more children.  Children have never been afforded the same                  
rights as adults under the Alaska Constitution.  Finally, with                 
Governor Knowles' child protection bill, children will be protected            
and valued as young members of our communities.  She is                        
particularly pleased with the clarity of the abandonment laws.                 
Mental and emotional abuse is every bit as harmful as physical                 
abuse, and it is not long before children act out.  She supports SB
272 wholeheartedly.  She urged committee members to keep the bill              
intact, and stated she is pleased that state agencies will be                  
mandated to work together.                                                     
                                                                               
Number 432                                                                     
                                                                               
SCOTT CALDER, testified on his own behalf via teleconference from              
Fairbanks.  He submitted that SB 272 is a blueprint for a                      
bureaucracy protection system.  He noted a previous speaker stated             
the bill limits chances given to parents, and he suggested doing               
the same for DFYS.  DFYS has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars            
to terrorize families and injure children and no honest discussion             
about that fact has taken place.  SB 272 sets performance standards            
for DFYS, however standards have existed for 20 years.   The                   
philosophy of the best interest of the child has been on the books             
for years, therefore it is untrue that the philosophy is now                   
changing.  The fiscal note he has seen for this bill states the                
fiscal impact is indeterminate.  He stated his opposition to SB 272            
and repeated the need to have a truthful discussion about DFYS.                
                                                                               
Number 368                                                                     
                                                                               
BARBARA MALCHICK, with the Office of Public Advocacy, stated her               
support for SB 272.  Since 1985 she has been a guardian ad litem,              
and for the past eight years, she has supervised all guardians ad              
litem.  Her office originally went to court to get the order to                
ease the confidentiality restrictions in CINA cases.  She discussed            
the issue of whether to include exposure to domestic violence as               
grounds for state intervention in the family.  Recent literature               
confirms that children who grow up in violent homes are at high                
risk for being physically abused or neglected, for developing                  
serious physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral problems, and            
for committing violent acts against others.  Under existing law,               
the state cannot intervene until a child has actually been abused              
or is at substantial risk.  She read a letter from an Anchorage                
school teacher regarding suspected abuse of one of his students,               
and DFYS's inability to take action because the student had no                 
broken bones or bruises.                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted that the House was hearing companion                     
legislation, HB 375, concurrently.                                             
                                                                               
Number 317                                                                     
                                                                               
JAYNE ANDREEN, Executive Director of the Council on Domestic                   
Violence and Sexual Assault, stated domestic violence affects                  
children in many direct and indirect ways.  While children are not             
necessarily targeted for direct abuse, they often are injured as a             
result.  They are traumatized by fear for their parent's safety and            
blame themselves for not being able to stop it.  She gave                      
statistics on the amount of abuse cases in households where                    
domestic violence occurs.  Symptoms of witnessing domestic violence            
in the home include anxiety, fear, sleep disruption, and school                
problems.  By the age of 5-6, children begin to identify with the              
batterer, not the victim.  She pointed out SB 272 establishes a                
rebuttable presumption in cases of child custody.  Existing statute            
requires that the parent who fears that custody by the other parent            
could result in harm to the child must show to the court why that              
custody is not in the best interest of the child.  Often, that                 
parent must endure threats to his/her life.                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked where, in SB 272, the provision about                    
rebuttable presumption is located.                                             
                                                                               
MS. ANDREEN answered on page 12, Section 12 of the work draft dated            
4/28/98.                                                                       
                                                                               
Number 230                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL stated this issue was discussed thoroughly during              
debate on the domestic violence bill because domestic violence                 
statutes are used as both a shield and a sword, particularly in                
divorce proceedings.  He questioned whether a rebuttable                       
presumption will occur without a conviction.                                   
                                                                               
MS. ANDREEN explained the court would have to make a finding by a              
preponderance of evidence, although no conviction would have to                
take place.                                                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL questioned how the court would view an ex parte                
hearing that took place three years earlier.                                   
                                                                               
MS. ANDREEN thought the court would have to revisit that kind of               
situation.  She added this recommendation came out of the domestic             
violence summit.  SB 272 will take the focus off of the victim to              
prove why the other parent should not have custody when domestic               
violence has occurred, and places the emphasis on the batterer to              
prove why it is in the child's best interest.                                  
                                                                               
Number 188                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL thought such a claim would come out in a divorce               
proceeding and become a part of the determination anyway and place             
an automatic rebuttable presumption in the case.                               
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated in early December of 1997 the Senate                    
Judiciary Committee met in Anchorage to review how the domestic                
violence bill was working.  Agencies reported that all was fine,               
however the private sector presented a series of horror cases                  
involving the use of domestic violence reports for the sole purpose            
of gaining advantage in custody cases.                                         
                                                                               
Number 118                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL noted many of those problems existed prior to the              
enactment of that law and were not cause by it.  He recounted the              
rebuttable presumption provision went too far so it was removed                
from that bill.                                                                
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Ms. Andreen to respond to his statement since            
he has heard the same concern from directors of domestic violence              
shelters.                                                                      
                                                                               
Number 103                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. ANDREEN stated she is hearing some of the same concerns as                 
well, yet at the same time, she has heard that in the vast majority            
of cases, it appears the ex partes are being used in an appropriate            
fashion.  She believes it is important to provide more education               
for parties who work on these kinds of issues on a professional                
level, such as court personnel.  Also, she felt Alaska has been                
somewhat lax on including the family law and defense bars into the             
discussions about the best systemic response to domestic violence.             
She stated people can request a modification to an ex parte hearing            
so that a hearing takes place three days later.                                
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asserted that usually someone from an agency hand-             
carries the person in to make sure the first order gets taken care             
of.  If the accused asks for a hearing, he/she is disadvantaged                
from the start, and has to get an attorney and take time off of                
work.  The system is not balanced, and it can be easily and quickly            
manipulated.                                                                   
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked Ms. Andreen what other areas of SB 272 she is            
concerned about.                                                               
                                                                               
Number 033                                                                     
                                                                               
MS. ANDREEN responded the definition of "mental injury," in terms              
of the jurisdiction for CINA clients, concerns her.  She noted an              
amendment has been prepared that includes domestic violence as part            
of the mental injury.  She added the amendment appears to be the               
same one that was discussed in the House Finance Committee on                  
Saturday.                                                                      
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON clarified that the bill originally included               
the term "emotional harm" which many felt was too subjective, so               
the term was changed to "mental injury" which is already defined in            
statute.                                                                       
                                                                               
TAPE 98-50                                                                     
Side A                                                                         
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL asked if Representative Dyson was referring to the             
phrase, "according to a statement of a psychologist or physician is            
evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment."                        
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that was correct.                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR ELLIS asked if Chairman Taylor intended to mark up SB 272,             
or a different version.                                                        
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated he intended to wait for the House version to            
arrive, as many of the desired changes will already have been made.            
He stated his main concern is to do what is most time effective.               
                                                                               
Number 029                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR MILLER noted the House intends to have HB 375 to the Senate            
within the next few days.                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR PARNELL suggested scheduling the bill again on Wednesday or            
Thursday in case HB 375 does not arrive.                                       
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON commented he and others spent all of their                
free time during the past two and one half months working on this              
bill, and literally hundreds of changes have been made to the                  
package that came out of the Governor's Task Force.  The CSED                  
provisions were removed, as well as some of the provisions dealing             
with domestic violence.  SB 272 also does not contain the                      
provisions contained in Senators Halford's and Pearce's bills and              
he added the provisions allowing foster parents to participate in              
treatment plans and changes in placement and court hearings.  He               
stated he has personally had problems with DFYS not providing                  
adequate information to foster parents about children.  He asked               
committee members not to confuse changes to the law with the real              
and imagined incompetence at DFYS.  DFYS needs to be empowered and             
held accountable for its shortfalls while changes are also made to             
the law.  He emphasized the need to educate judges on family law               
and stated he suspects that the initial court hearing that takes               
place within 48 hours after a child is taken into state custody are            
"rubber-stamped" procedures.  Parents do not know what their rights            
are so they cannot get on an equal footing in that system.                     
                                                                               
Number 111                                                                     
                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated one of the issues that arose during the            
task force meetings was that the people who should be making the               
decisions did not have all of the information because of                       
confidentiality laws and differing agency modes of operation.  Ten             
years ago the people investigating reports of child abuse also knew            
previous domestic violence reports had been filed.  The                        
multidisciplinary team approach will improve communication and it              
will prevent children from having to testify three or four times.              
He added in the recent past, state custody has taken place with                
families that have significant and multiple problems.  Foster                  
parents need more support and education to deal with the effects of            
severe trauma and fetal alcohol syndrome.                                      
                                                                               
Number 211                                                                     
                                                                               
CAROL PALMER, testifying via teleconference from Palmer on her own             
behalf and for Parents United for Custodial Justice (PUCJ), made               
the following comments.  PUCJ would like the committee to pass only            
those portions of SB 272 that incorporate the federal law (PL 105-             
89).  Many innocent parents who were contacted by DFYS and then                
victimized.  Once these parents have been victimized, the damage               
cannot be undone.  She agreed with Senator Taylor's comment that               
parents learn to manipulate the child protection laws to gain                  
custody of children.  Innocent children and parents have been                  
devastated by DFYS and that activity needs to be stopped.  Many of             
DFYS's hearings are closed-door, and the accused parent has no way             
to clear his or her name.                                                      
                                                                               
KATHY MARQUETTE made the following comments via teleconference on              
her own behalf.  Her granddaughter was sexually abused by her                  
father as far as psychologists are concerned, however the police               
and DFYS do not consider the activity to be criminal because no                
sexual penetration took place.  The father is still able to spend              
time with the child, including overnight visitations, because of               
the loophole in the law.  The psychologist and psychiatrist both               
believe the child is in a grooming phase by the abusive parent, who            
leads the child to believe that sexual activity equates to parental            
love.                                                                          
                                                                               
Number 295                                                                     
                                                                               
MARTHA HODSON testified via teleconference from Kenai.  MS. Hodson             
pointed out that services are not always available to work with                
families.  The families are often put on six month waiting lists               
for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.  In addition, DFYS providers              
who try to help parents do not always honor confidentiality                    
releases.  She expressed concern for young mothers who are getting             
adequate help from domestic violence shelters and whose children               
unnecessarily become CINA cases.                                               
                                                                               
GLORIA STUART, a foster parent from Homer, made the following                  
comments.  As a foster parent to three fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)            
children since 1985, she has had a good opportunity to observe                 
DFYS's activities.  The first child she received was removed from              
his home a few weeks after birth and was placed in 11 different                
homes, including his original home,  until he came to live with her            
at 2+ years.  Two months later, his sibling was born with FAS and              
two years later, another sibling was born with FAS.  She has all               
three siblings.  FAS is an organic disorder with no cure.  FAS                 
children are prime candidates for battering because they are                   
difficult to raise, therefore keeping them in a home with alcoholic            
parents is a dangerous thing to do.  She asked that children not be            
returned to parents who are not making the effort to get                       
rehabilitation.  In addition, she asked legislators to take into               
account that to a child one month is a long time, and to not allow             
them to hang in limbo for years in hope that the parents will                  
recover.  Children need to be placed in safe and permanent homes as            
quickly as possible.                                                           
                                                                               
Number 410                                                                     
                                                                               
LIEUTENANT BILL GIFFORD, Anchorage Police Department, commented on             
his 26 years of experience in law enforcement. Physical injuries               
can be seen, long term emotional injuries cannot.  SB 272 allows               
those who protect children to act in a quicker manner to stop the              
violence and put the child on the road to recovery faster,                     
demonstrate to children that adults can be trusted, and allow case             
workers to get on to the next case.  SB 272 allows more open                   
sharing of investigative information, and the ability to work more             
closely as a team.  Combining investigative resources is more                  
efficient in time and money, reduces duplication of effort, and                
allows all agencies to better understand the needs of each other.              
SB 272 will have a positive effect on crime reduction in that                  
today's child abuse victim far too often becomes tomorrow's                    
criminal.  SB 272 is a comprehensive package that includes more                
reasonable sentencing for child murderers, requires sex offenders              
to register, and other changes to allow agencies to work together              
for the betterment of children.                                                
                                                                               
BARBARA HOLLENBACK, a detective for the Anchorage Police                       
Department, stated her support for the child protection legislation            
as an important crime prevention tool.  She has investigated more              
than 1,000 child abuse and neglect cases, and it is obvious that               
victims of abuse grow up to be the juveniles and criminals of                  
tomorrow.  In 1996 she investigated a case of a mother who had                 
burned, stabbed, and seriously injured her three children.  The                
District Attorney prosecuted the case as a felony assault on a                 
child.   The mother had a prior felony conviction for burning her              
daughter.  The mother served four years and upon release from                  
prison, her daughter was returned to her by DFYS.  The mother then             
had two more children.  If HB 375 passes, the child would not have             
to go back to the mother.                                                      
                                                                               
Number 517                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked Ms. Hollenback, and noted he spent six                 
years as a Master's Authority for two communities.  He expressed               
his frustration at the practice of returning children to abusive               
homes. He hoped these bills will provide additional security and               
authority for the workers to make common sense decisions.                      
                                                                               
Number 532                                                                     
                                                                               
ANNE CARPENETI, Department of Law, commented that on page 5, line              
22, a typographical error needs to be corrected.  The language                 
should read, "... impaired by an intoxicant, whether or not                    
prescribed for the person."  The words "a controlled substance"                
should be deleted.                                                             
                                                                               
SUZETTE GRAHAM, a foster parent of two children, described her                 
frustration with the court's interpretation of reasonable efforts              
for reform made by parents in custody hearings.  If a parent                   
decides at the 11th hour to get treatment, the children remain with            
that parent for another year.  She urged committee members to pass             
HB 375.  She asked that the bill contain a provision to allow                  
foster parents to attend the entire court hearing.                             
                                                                               
Number 577                                                                     
                                                                               
SHELLE LEMAN made the following comments via teleconference from               
Kasilof.  SB 272 is not specific enough.  Neither she, nor her                 
niece who is a counselor, were considered as custodial parents for             
her grandson who now lives with the parents of his abusive father.             
She supports parts of SB 272 but is concerned that people be                   
listened to and not automatically treated like criminals.                      
                                                                               
TAPE 98-50                                                                     
SIDE B                                                                         
                                                                               
CHRIS HUTCHISON, representing a group of parents on the Kenai                  
Peninsula, said although parts of the bill must be passed to ensure            
federal funding, both SB 272 and HB 375 give DFYS too much                     
authority without requiring enough oversight and accountability.               
Problems with DFYS have been ongoing for 20 years, therefore a                 
quick fix is not the answer; however it would be a grave disservice            
to children to not pass some child protection legislation this                 
session.                                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR indicated, according to Representative Dyson, a                
DFYS still does not provide inadequate information to foster                   
parents about the backgrounds of foster children because of the                
confidentiality laws.                                                          
                                                                               
MS. HUTCHISON answered DFYS has done quite a bit in the past month             
to correct that problem and make more information available to                 
foster parents.                                                                
                                                                               
Number 527                                                                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR recounted some cases in his district of foster                 
parents not being told that their foster children had burned down              
other residences.  He repeated that he was unsure how much of the              
problem was caused by ineffective statutes and how much was caused             
by poor judgment on the part of DFYS.  He asked Ms. Hutchison                  
whether she believes foster parents should have complete access to             
a child's file.                                                                
                                                                               
MS. HUTCHISON said she did not think confidentiality in regard to              
withholding information from foster parents was the biggest                    
problem.  The biggest problem is that confidentiality provides DFYS            
carte blanche protection regarding secrecy of its activities.  SB
272 needs to be fine tuned to give DFYS direction.  She agreed a               
commission would be helpful, however SB 272 is an 11th hour band-              
aid.                                                                           
                                                                               
Number 501                                                                     
                                                                               
LIEUTENANT BROWN stated it is important to remember that DFYS                  
employees are human and they do make mistakes in judgment calls.               
He noted the multidisciplinary team was not designed to cover up               
for DFYS, it is made up of other professionals involved in child               
protection services and was conceptualized after talking to                    
hundreds of civilians.  The team concept will allow for several                
perspectives, and it will assist DFYS in investigating cases.  DFYS            
does not have the manpower to respond to all reports filed around              
the state.  VPSO's, state troopers, and others will be able to                 
assist.  Also, DFYS might have one side of the story on a case;                
other professionals can add more information to give a complete                
picture.                                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR stated he, Judge Schultz and Judge Krask (ph) put              
together community councils to do the same thing.  The problem they            
councils encountered was the fear of breaking confidentiality, and             
consequently, children continued to fall through the cracks.  The              
other side of the coin is that parents are going to be very                    
frightened about a group of state agency people discussing                     
confidential information about their family.  Privacy must be                  
protected to some degree but early intervention is critical.                   
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked everyone for their participation and                   
announced the bill would be held in committee until HB 375 arrives.            
He adjourned the meeting at 6:15 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               

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