Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

03/29/2016 06:00 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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Audio Topic
06:06:21 PM Start
06:06:48 PM HB200
06:49:09 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time --
+= HB 200 ADOPTION OF CHILD IN STATE CUSTODY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      HOUSE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                     
                         March 29, 2016                                                                                         
                           6:06 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Paul Seaton, Chair                                                                                               
Representative David Talerico                                                                                                   
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Liz Vazquez, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 200                                                                                                              
"An  Act  establishing  procedures  related  to  a  petition  for                                                               
adoption  of a  child in  state custody;  adding a  definition of                                                               
'proxy  for  a  formal  petition';  amending  Rule  6(a),  Alaska                                                               
Adoption Rules; and providing for an effective date."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 200                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ADOPTION OF CHILD IN STATE CUSTODY                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
04/16/15       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/16/15       (H)       HSS, JUD                                                                                               
03/29/16       (H)       HSS AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/29/16       (H)       HSS AT 6:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH MEDICINE CROW, President/CEO                                                                                          
First Alaskans Institute                                                                                                        
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MARY SATTLER, Lobbyist                                                                                                          
Alaska Regional Coalition                                                                                                       
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MELANIE BAHNKE, President                                                                                                       
Kawerak, Inc.                                                                                                                   
Nome, Alaska                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JERRY ISAAC, Co-Chair                                                                                                           
Alaska Federation of Natives                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE BORROMEO, General Counsel                                                                                                
Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN)                                                                                              
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TRACI MCGARRY, Program Director                                                                                                 
Children & Family Services                                                                                                      
Child Advocacy Center                                                                                                           
Kawerak, Inc.                                                                                                                   
Nome, Alaska                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA MCADOO, ICWA Coordinator                                                                                                 
Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc.                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DONALD SHIRCEL, Program Administrator                                                                                           
Tanana Chiefs Conference                                                                                                        
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 200.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
6:06:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR PAUL  SEATON called  the House  Health and  Social Services                                                             
Standing   Committee    meeting   to    order   at    6:06   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Seaton and  Talerico were present at  the call to                                                               
order.    Representative  Tarr  arrived as  the  meeting  was  in                                                               
progress.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
           HB 200-ADOPTION OF CHILD IN STATE CUSTODY                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:06:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 200, "An  Act establishing procedures related to a                                                               
petition  for adoption  of a  child  in state  custody; adding  a                                                               
definition of 'proxy for a  formal petition'; amending Rule 6(a),                                                               
Alaska Adoption Rules; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
6:07:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH   MEDICINE   CROW,    President/CEO,   First   Alaskans                                                               
Institute, shared that First Alaskans  Institute was a state-wide                                                               
Alaska  Native  non-profit  organization,   and  its  vision  was                                                               
"progress for the next 10,000  years," a recognition for how long                                                               
Alaska Natives  have been here  and intend  to remain here.   She                                                               
declared  support  for  proposed  HB  200,  and  shared  insights                                                               
garnered   by  her   organization  from   its  involvement   with                                                               
leadership development during the past  12 years.  She listed the                                                               
various programs offered by the  organization.  She declared that                                                               
all Alaskan  kids "do  better when they  are with  their families                                                               
and in their  home communities and when they  are actually raised                                                               
and  connected to  their cultures."    She shared  that this  was                                                               
consistently  stated by  those who  worked hard  to become  young                                                               
leaders.   She declared  that "every single  child is  a leader."                                                               
When their  potential was viewed,  it was understood that  it was                                                               
necessary to know  who they were, and they had  to be nurtured in                                                               
that  environment,  to  support   achievement  of  their  highest                                                               
potential.  She emphasized that  placement while in state custody                                                               
was  critical and  essential to  their well-being  and the  well-                                                               
being  of  their  community,  hence the  strong  support  of  the                                                               
proposed bill.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  asked if she was  supportive of the process  in the                                                               
proposed bill.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MEDICINE  CROW  replied  that  she  was  supportive  of  the                                                               
proposed bill,  as anything  that could  make it  more practical,                                                               
easier, and efficient  for people in rural Alaska  to access [the                                                               
placement  process] was  helpful.   She  declared  that this  was                                                               
already  a really  hard situation  and did  not need  to be  more                                                               
complicated and more difficult.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked if there would  be additional interest                                                               
from tribes to stepping up for  adoptions if the process was made                                                               
easier.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MEDICINE CROW  offered her  belief that  this proposed  bill                                                               
speaks to kids  already in the state foster  care system, whereas                                                               
for  families trying  to understand  the best  options for  their                                                               
children,  this  bill  would  help   delete  some  of  the  extra                                                               
bureaucratic  steps that  made guardianship  and permanency  more                                                               
complicated.   She  supported elimination  of the  duplication of                                                               
the court systems and allowing for  the proxy statement to hold a                                                               
family preference  for adoption.   She  declared that  the tribes                                                               
would  be  supportive of  anything  to  keep  the kids  in  their                                                               
villages and families.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
6:12:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY SATTLER,  Lobbyist, Alaska  Regional Coalition,  shared that                                                               
the  coalition   was  comprised   of  five   regional  non-profit                                                               
organizations,  which collective  represented  100  tribes.   She                                                               
paraphrased from a prepared letter, which read:                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     This letter  is to  support House Bill  200/Senate Bill                                                                    
     112.   We  believe  this bill  will  have positive  and                                                                    
     lasting impacts for Alaska.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Numerous  state  and  national policy  already  dictate                                                                    
     familial placements.   This is  based on  research that                                                                    
     proves  time and  again a  child's family  is the  best                                                                    
     placement option.   State  and federal  statute mandate                                                                    
     family  placements of  foster  children when  possible.                                                                    
     For Native children, federal  law takes this preference                                                                    
     mandate  further by  ensuring preference  to a  child's                                                                    
     tribe  and  other  Native families  when  an  immediate                                                                    
     family placement is not available.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     House  Bill 200/Senate  Bill 112  removes barriers  for                                                                    
     families who want  to adopt those connected  to them by                                                                    
     family or tribal membership by  making the process more                                                                    
     realistic and understandable.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Well over 40 percent of  Alaska Native children who are                                                                    
     adopted annually are  adopted by non-Native, non-family                                                                    
     members.   This is a  concern because our  children are                                                                    
     our greatest  resource, and  too often  Native children                                                                    
     suffer in adulthood when they  lose connection to their                                                                    
     Native culture.   It  is our hope  that this  bill will                                                                    
     increase the number of Alaska  Native children to reach                                                                    
     permanency with their family, culture and traditions.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Congress enacted  the Indian  Child Welfare  Act (ICWA)                                                                    
     in 1978 due to the  alarming numbers of Indian children                                                                    
     being  removed from  their homes  by state  and private                                                                    
     welfare agencies  and placed  in non-Indian  foster and                                                                    
     adoptive homes never to be  returned to their families,                                                                    
     culture, or communities.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska families  who live in  rural Alaska do  not have                                                                    
     fair access to  the courts as do urban  Alaskans.  This                                                                    
     bill   seeks   to  eliminate   complicated   procedural                                                                    
     barriers  in  the  adoption  process  for  children  in                                                                    
     custody so  that Alaska families can  be considered for                                                                    
     adoption  through  the  Child  in Need  of  Aid  (CINA)                                                                    
     proceedings  instead of  through an  entirely different                                                                    
     proceedings held  in Probate  Court.  Families  will be                                                                    
     able to  assert their desire  to adopt a  child through                                                                    
     the  Child  in Need  of  Aid  proceeding and  would  be                                                                    
     considered  for  adoption  after  the  permanency  goal                                                                    
     changes to adoption.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Please take  into consideration,  that while  this bill                                                                    
     will help  Alaska Native foster children,  it will also                                                                    
     help the 40  percent of the non-Native  children in the                                                                    
     system who also deserve to be placed with family.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Thank  you for  supporting  keeping Alaskan's  children                                                                    
     with their families and in their own home communities.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SATTLER stated that the outcome  of the proposed bill was for                                                               
more than Alaska  Native children, as it allowed  any children to                                                               
live with people from their  own community, which she declared to                                                               
be  "a universal  positive."   She  addressed the  concern for  a                                                               
child with  two ethnicities, and  offered her belief  that social                                                               
workers  needed  to look  at  the  best  interest of  the  child,                                                               
regardless of ethnicity.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:17:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MELANIE BAHNKE, President, Kawerak,  Inc., reported that Kawerak,                                                               
Inc. was a regional tribal  consortia in the Bering Strait region                                                               
with 20  federally recognized tribes  in the region.   She listed                                                               
many of  the services  that they provided.   She  declared strong                                                               
support  of  HB 200.    She  listed  the  three main  reasons  of                                                               
support:    it removed  the  barriers  which currently  prevented                                                               
Alaska  Native  families  and individuals  from  adopting  native                                                               
children in state  custody by defining proxy in lieu  of a formal                                                               
petition for adoption as required by  the U.S. Supreme Court;  it                                                               
tied adoption  proceedings with the  Child in Need of  Aid (CINA)                                                               
proceedings, and  would consolidate the two  proceedings into one                                                               
court matter;  and, it furthered  the states compliance  with the                                                               
Indian  Child  Welfare Act  (ICWA).    She reported  that  Alaska                                                               
Natives were  20 -  25 percent  of the  state population,  yet 60                                                               
percent  of  the  children  in foster  care  system  were  Alaska                                                               
Native.   She  pointed out  that there  had been  a complete  re-                                                               
vamping  of   judicial  systems,  social  service   systems,  and                                                               
educational   systems  with   an  attempt   to  reduce   negative                                                               
statistics and improve outcomes,  and the elimination of barriers                                                               
for Alaska  Native adoption  was a step  in the  right direction.                                                               
She declared that  the proposed bill was good  for children, good                                                               
for Alaska Natives, and good for Alaska.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
6:19:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERRY ISAAC,  Co-Chair, Alaska Federation of  Natives, stated the                                                               
federation's support  of HB  200, it  removed the  barriers which                                                               
currently prevented  Alaska Native families and  individuals from                                                               
adopting native  children in state  custody by defining  proxy in                                                               
lieu of  a formal petition for  adoption as required by  the U.S.                                                               
Supreme Court;   it tied  adoption proceedings with the  Child in                                                               
Need of  Aid (CINA)  proceedings, and  would consolidate  the two                                                               
proceedings into  one court matter;  and it furthered  the states                                                               
compliance with the  Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).   He shared                                                               
an  anecdote of  an  adoption  in his  extended  family, and  the                                                               
difficulties and suffering that resulted.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:24:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NICOLE BORROMEO,  General Counsel,  Alaska Federation  of Natives                                                               
(AFN), stated support  by AFN of the proposed  bill, and reported                                                               
that they  were active in  its drafting and the  underlying legal                                                               
cases.   She stated that  this was a good  bill, and that  it was                                                               
good for Alaskans, while it furthered compliance with ICWA.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
6:25:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TRACI  MCGARRY, Program  Director,  Children  & Family  Services,                                                               
Child Advocacy Center, Kawerak,  Inc., shared that Kawerak worked                                                               
with  16 tribes  in  the  Bering Strait  region.   She  expressed                                                               
agreement with earlier testimony  for the combination of adoption                                                               
and legal  guardianship proceedings with  CINA to allow  for "one                                                               
judge,  one family."   She  stated her  support for  the bill  to                                                               
expedite the process to allow  children to be with their families                                                               
in their communities.   She declared her support  of the proposed                                                               
bill, pointing out that it was in support of ICWA.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
6:27:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA  MCADOO,  ICWA   Coordinator,  Aleutian  Pribilof  Islands                                                               
Association, Inc.,  paraphrased from a letter  previously sent to                                                               
the  committee  [included in  members'  packets],  which read  as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     This letter  is to  support House Bill  200/Senate Bill                                                                    
     112.   The Aleutian Pribilof Islands  Association, Inc.                                                                    
     and its  thirteen (13)  board members  strongly believe                                                                    
     this bill will  have a positive and  lasting impact for                                                                    
     Alaska Native  children and their  families.   The Bill                                                                    
     efficiently   removes   barriers  for   Alaska   Native                                                                    
     families who  strongly desire to adopt  those connected                                                                    
     to them  by family or  tribal membership by  making the                                                                    
     process more realistic and culturally relevant.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Well over 40 percent of  Alaska Native children who are                                                                    
     adopted annually are  adopted by non-Native, non-family                                                                    
     members.   It is  the APIA's hope  that this  bill will                                                                    
     increase the number of Alaska  Native children to reach                                                                    
     permanency with  their family, culture  and traditions.                                                                    
     As  you  know, the  U.S.  congress  enacted the  Indian                                                                    
     Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in  1978 due to the disturbing                                                                    
     numbers  of Indian  children being  removed from  their                                                                    
     homes by state and  private welfare agencies and placed                                                                    
     in  non-Indian foster  and adoptive  homes never  to be                                                                    
     returned  to their  families, culture,  or communities.                                                                    
     This had  a devastating  effect on Native  families and                                                                    
     ICWA has been  key to reverse the  traumatic effects of                                                                    
     removal.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     In addition,  Alaska Native families who  live in rural                                                                    
     Alaska may not speak English  fluently or they may have                                                                    
     difficulties obtaining  legal counsel.  Bill  112 seeks                                                                    
     to  eliminate complicated  procedural  barriers in  the                                                                    
     adoption  process  for  children  in  custody  so  that                                                                    
     Alaska Native  families can be considered  for adoption                                                                    
     through  the Child  in Need  of Aid  (CINA) proceedings                                                                    
     instead   of   through   an  entirely   different   and                                                                    
     convoluted  proceeding held  in  Probate  Court.   With                                                                    
     Bill 112 in place, Alaska  Native families will be able                                                                    
     to assert  their desire  to adopt  a child  through the                                                                    
     Child  in   Need  of  Aid   proceeding  and   would  be                                                                    
     considered  for  adoption  after  the  permanency  goal                                                                    
      changes to adoption.  The Aleutian Pribilof Islands                                                                       
     Association (APIA) strongly supports this action.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Committee members,  on behalf  of the 13  board members                                                                    
     and 13  Tribes APIA represents,  I urge you  to support                                                                    
     Senate Bill 112 by  keeping Alaska Native children with                                                                    
     their  families  and  in  their  own  home  communities                                                                    
     connected to their culture.  Our future depends on it.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
6:30:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DONALD SHIRCEL, Program  Administrator, Tanana Chiefs Conference,                                                               
stated his  strong support of HB  200.  He shared  his background                                                               
work  with the  Office  of Children's  Services,  and stated  his                                                               
recognition  of  "the   practical  implications  and  significant                                                               
contribution  that  this bill  could  have  toward improving  the                                                               
Child Protection Services currently  being offered by the state."                                                               
He  offered  his  belief  that  the  proposed  bill  "would  make                                                               
possible  a  common  sense  approach  that  could  easily  fix  a                                                               
problem,  potentially  save  some  time,  effort,  and  money  by                                                               
avoiding   duplication   and    effort   by   consolidating   and                                                               
streamlining  processes,  and   most  importantly,  provide  more                                                               
children who  have been  traumatized by  abuse, a  safe, healthy,                                                               
nurturing, and  permanent home that  is fully connected  to their                                                               
family, community, and  culture."  He declared  that the proposed                                                               
bill  could  significantly  help   compliance  with  the  spirit,                                                               
intent, and  letter of the law  with ICWA, and it  made sense for                                                               
all Alaska's kids and families.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
6:32:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 6:32 p.m. to 6:48 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:48:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON brought  the committee  back to  order.   He stated                                                               
that written testimony would continue to be accepted.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Public  testimony was  closed after  ascertaining no  one further                                                               
wished to testify.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
[HB 200 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
6:49:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Health and Social Services Standing Committee meeting was                                                                       
adjourned at 6:49 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB200 ver A.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Proposed CS ver W.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Sponsor Statement_Governor Transmittal Letter.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Sectional Analysis version A.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Summary of changes_Bullets points version A to W March 24 2016.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Fiscal Note_DHSS-FLSW-1-12-16.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Letters of Support_44 letters.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB200 Hearing Request H-HSS 012016.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB 334 Opposition Testimony_Joseph Coulter-Khan.PDF HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 334 Opposition testimony & docs_Allen Bailey_3.24.2016.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 334 OppositionTestimony Allen Levy.PDF HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 334 Opposition Testimony Andy Harrington.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB200 Sectional Analysis - Version W.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB 334 Support_Letter_McKeen_ 3 28 16.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 334 Testimony_Allen Bailey_3.29.2016.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 200 Fiscal Note-DHSS-FLSW-3.25.16.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 200
HB 328 proposed amendment W.6_seaton.pdf HHSS 3/29/2016 6:00:00 PM
HB 328