Legislature(2019 - 2020)DAVIS 106

02/27/2020 03:00 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
        HB 189-CHILD IN NEED OF AID; NOTICE OF PLACEMENT                                                                    
3:07:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR ZULKOSKY announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 189,  "An Act relating to  the identification,                                                               
location,  and  notification of  specified  family  members of  a                                                               
child who is in state custody."                                                                                                 
3:08:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   DAVE   TALERICO,   Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
paraphrased  from  a  prepared statement  [Included  in  members'                                                               
packets], which read:                                                                                                           
     Ensuring  Extended  Family  Members  Are  Contacted  as                                                                    
     Potential Foster  Parents Under Alaska law  a youth who                                                                    
     faces the  unfortunate circumstance of being  placed in                                                                    
     foster care is  entitled to a placement that  is in his                                                                    
     or  her   "best  interests".  Federal  law   and  rules                                                                    
     internal  to the  Office of  Children's Services  (OCS)                                                                    
     note that  a search of  family members and  friends who                                                                    
     are akin  to family  members should  be completed  in a                                                                    
     timely manner,  within 30 days.  The main  provision of                                                                    
     HB  189 makes  sure  a supervisor  signs  off that  the                                                                    
     requirement  of a  diligent search  for family  members                                                                    
     has  occurred. If  it  has not,  the  social worker  is                                                                    
     directed to  complete that  search to  the supervisor's                                                                    
     satisfaction in as timely a  manner as possible. HB 189                                                                    
     puts into statute this  additional protection, which is                                                                    
     not currently  addressed by OCS statutes  or policy but                                                                    
     is warranted  due to the continuous  high social worker                                                                    
     turnover rate.  Some social workers  are very  new, and                                                                    
     many don't  make it as  social workers beyond  one year                                                                    
     or  two years.  Having  a supervisor  sign  off that  a                                                                    
     family  search  has   been  thoroughly  conducted  will                                                                    
     ensure children  are protected, and in  the best foster                                                                    
     home possible.  This provision is expected  to be cost-                                                                    
     neutral. It  is recognized in  the area of  foster care                                                                    
     that,  where  a  good family  placement  is  available,                                                                    
     keeping a child in their  family is often the placement                                                                    
     that is the child's best interests.                                                                                        
3:10:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO explained Proposed  Amendment 1, which he                                                               
     Page 1, lines 9 - 11                                                                                                       
     Delete  "If circumstances  prevent the  department from                                                                    
     completing this  due diligence search  in 30  days, the                                                                    
     department  shall  complete  the   search  as  soon  as                                                                    
     Insert  "in this  subsection,  an  adult family  member                                                                    
     means a person who is 18  years of age or older and who                                                                    
     is  related to  the child  as the  child's grandparent,                                                                    
     aunt, uncle, or sibling."                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE   TALERICO  offered   to  deliver   this  to   the                                                               
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY asked  about the  existing  Office of  Children's                                                               
Services (OCS) relative search process.                                                                                         
3:11:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISSY   VOGELEY,  Manager,   Community  Relations,   Office  of                                                               
Children's Services,  Department of  Health and  Social Services,                                                               
pointed  out  that, as  there  was  already a  federal  statutory                                                               
requirement that  all adult  family members  need to  be notified                                                               
regarding the  removal of  a child within  30 days,  the proposed                                                               
bill without  the amendment  would just  codify in  state statute                                                               
what  was already  a federal  requirement.   She  added that  OCS                                                               
already had the  policies and procedures in place  to ensure that                                                               
this  happened.   She noted  that there  was an  ongoing relative                                                               
search,  with social  media as  an excellent  source for  finding                                                               
relatives.  Any  findings were then put into the  data base under                                                               
the  case  file  and  all   those  relatives  were  automatically                                                               
notified.  As  this was ongoing, there was a  question for when a                                                               
supervisor would  sign off on  this.  She reminded  the committee                                                               
that   a   requirement  to   sign   off   would  become   another                                                               
administrative task for the supervisor.                                                                                         
3:13:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked  whether there  was the  capacity                                                               
for this to be done in practice on a regular basis.                                                                             
MS. VOGELEY acknowledged that, while  OCS did have struggles, the                                                               
division  had a  52 percent  relative placement  rate versus  the                                                               
national average of  32 percent.  She declared  that, even though                                                               
this placement  rate was  one of the  highest placement  rates in                                                               
the United  States, there  was still room  for improvement.   She                                                               
offered her belief  that OCS did have the capacity.   She pointed                                                               
out that there was a difference  for children who were defined by                                                               
the Indian  Child Welfare Act  (ICWA), as OCS had  compacted with                                                               
the tribal co-signers for a  much more extensive relative search.                                                               
She  added that  the tribal  partners could  find "an  incredible                                                               
number of relatives."   She noted that, for  children not defined                                                               
under ICWA, OCS did "as much as  we can with what we have because                                                               
it is a federal mandate, but it is unfunded."                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  asked  if  the  children  placed  with                                                               
family members were more stable and there was less turnover.                                                                    
MS. VOGELEY replied, "yes."                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked  if it  was already  in the  best                                                               
interest of OCS to be doing this work.                                                                                          
MS. VOGELEY replied, "yes."                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  expressed her  agreement and  shared an                                                               
anecdote about her  adoption of a foster child  who had initially                                                               
been  placed  with biological  relatives  who  did not  have  the                                                               
capacity to care for her.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE TARR asked  if this was the same or  similar to an                                                               
earlier bill by former Representative Les Gara.                                                                                 
MS. VOGELEY asked if this was a reference to House Bill 151.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR offered her belief that it was another bill.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ stated  that  House  Bill 151  required                                                               
that  a supervisor  sign off  that a  comprehensive relative  and                                                               
family friend  search had  taken place within  30 days  each time                                                               
there was  a placement change, and  then House Bill 27,  in 2017,                                                               
required the court to confirm this at the status hearings.                                                                      
CHAIR ZULKOSKY asked about the  costs anticipated in the attached                                                               
fiscal note, noting that a  portion of the proposed bill appeared                                                               
to codify what was already federally required.                                                                                  
3:18:28 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. VOGELEY  reiterated that the  federal mandate to  contact all                                                               
adult family members  within 30 days was  an unfunded requirement                                                               
and that  OCS did this to  its best ability.   She reported that,                                                               
in  compacting with  the tribes,  OCS  knew how  long a  relative                                                               
search would take and how much  it would cost.  She relayed that,                                                               
if the  intent of  the proposed  bill were  to contact  all adult                                                               
family members, this  would be an extensive  relative search like                                                               
the tribal searches.  She reported  that this took about 10 hours                                                               
at a  cost of $56.11  per hour.   The fiscal note  considered the                                                               
total cost considering the number  of children removed, minus the                                                               
costs  passed  along to  the  tribes  to conduct  these  relative                                                               
searches,  and  the  remainder  was  the  cost  to  do  extensive                                                               
relative searches for children not  defined by ICWA.  She offered                                                               
her belief  that the  proposed amendment  which specified  a much                                                               
smaller search would eliminate the fiscal note.                                                                                 
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY opined  that the  [Alaska]  Tribal Child  Welfare                                                               
Compact was  beneficial to the  State of Alaska  in understanding                                                               
costs for OCS to do these extensive family searches.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND asked  about the  OCS responsibility  if                                                               
family members were not in Alaska.                                                                                              
MS. VOGELEY  replied that this  could be an  entire presentation.                                                               
She explained that OCS was  still required to notify out-of-state                                                               
relatives and  should a relative  request placement of  the child                                                               
with them,  the Interstate Compact Replacement  of Children would                                                               
dictate that  Alaska work with  that state.  She  emphasized that                                                               
it  was a  long  process  with many  documents.    There was  the                                                               
possibility that  a case worker  would escort the child  to their                                                               
relative in  another state or OCS  would pay for the  relative to                                                               
come to Alaska to escort the child.   She added that this was not                                                               
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  referred to the  fiscal note and asked  about the                                                               
percentage of children covered by ICWA.                                                                                         
MS. VOGELEY said that she would research that information.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  reported  that  the proposed  bill  had  "a                                                               
little  bit of  an  overlap  in terms  of  the  language" to  the                                                               
earlier bill  referenced, and she  read from that  bill regarding                                                               
the  department  transfers  of   a  child  from  one  out-of-home                                                               
placement to  another.  She shared  an anecdote of her  work with                                                               
OCS and  a constituent and  asked whether being  prescriptive was                                                               
more important than the child's safety.                                                                                         
3:24:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  asked for the OCS  definition of "adult                                                               
family members of the child."                                                                                                   
MS. VOGELEY replied  that there was not a  federal definition for                                                               
the notification  of adult family  members; however, there  was a                                                               
definition in Alaska  statute.  She stated that  she would follow                                                               
CHAIR ZULKOSKY  asked about any overlap  with earlier legislation                                                               
and  requirements by  the federal  government.   She asked  which                                                               
component  of  the  proposed bill  was  necessary  for  statutory                                                               
language versus the need for  funding and a standardized internal                                                               
OCS policy  and process.   She asked  if OCS promulgated  its own                                                               
rules and regulations to guide this  work and could be used for a                                                               
budget request.   She opined that it appeared there  was a lot of                                                               
policy overlap and asked if a gap existed in the policy.                                                                        
MS. VOGELEY offered  her belief that OCS currently  had enough in                                                               
policy so there  was not any gap.  She  reported that the concern                                                               
raised by family members who were  not notified was mainly due to                                                               
the  parents  not  sharing  that   information  with  OCS.    She                                                               
acknowledged that, although it was  not a perfect system, OCS did                                                               
try their  best.  She added  that in these situations  there were                                                               
clearly family dynamics that prevented timely notifications.                                                                    
CHAIR  ZULKOSKY opined  that currently  there was  "enough policy                                                               
cover," although there was a large unfunded mandate.                                                                            
3:28:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO offered his  belief that it was important                                                               
to put  in Alaska  statute what was  already in  federal statute.                                                               
He  offered to  provide the  proposed amendment  which added  the                                                               
definition for adult family members,  and would include a child's                                                               
grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling.   He shared an anecdote for                                                               
constituents who did not have  that contact, and another anecdote                                                               
about a  friend who was successfully  raised by his sibling.   In                                                               
response   to  Representative   Spohnholz,  he   said  that   the                                                               
definition  for  "adult  family   member"  was  included  in  the                                                               
proposed amendment.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ   referenced  the  issue   regarding  a                                                               
relative not being notified and asked  if there was a gap between                                                               
the law and practice.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO  shared that the relative  was ultimately                                                               
contacted, was approved by OCS, and  the children were moved.  He                                                               
expressed  his concern  that  due process  was  "skipped over  in                                                               
favor of an accusation."                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ asked about  the timing for this episode                                                               
in question,  as there  had been legislation  passed in  2017 and                                                               
2018 which addressed this topic.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO replied  that most  of this  occurred in                                                               
August and September 2019.                                                                                                      
3:33:12 PM                                                                                                                    
HB 189 was held over.                                                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 184A 02.17.2020.PDF HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 184
HB 184 Veterinarian Medical Association PP.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 184
HB 184 Sponsor Statement.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 184
HB 184 Legislative Alert PDMP exemption for veterinarians 12.21.2019.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 184
HB 184 Board of Veterinarian Examiners Letter.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 184
HB 184 Fiscal Note DCCED.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 184
HB 189 ver A 1.24.20.PDF HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 189
HB 189 Sponsor Statement 1.24.20.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 189
HB 189 Fiscal Note DHSS.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 189
HB 242 Sectional Analysis.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 Pharmacy Board Audit 2017.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 PDMP 2019 Legislative Report.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 Sponsor Statement.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 Audit of the Medical Board 2019.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242.PDF HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 Fiscal Note DCCED.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 Fiscal Note DHSS.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242
HB 242 Overprescription by Spayd & Davidhizar.pdf HHSS 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 242