03/01/2010 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES
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|Anchorage Urban League - Seeds of Change|
|Division of Pioneer Homes: Planning for Tomorrow|
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE March 1, 2010 1:32 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Bettye Davis, Chair Senator Joe Paskvan, Vice Chair Senator Johnny Ellis Senator Joe Thomas Senator Fred Dyson MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 46 "An Act relating to child support awards made by a court; and repealing Rule 90.3, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure." - HEARD AND HELD PRESENTATION: ANCHORAGE URBAN LEAGUE - Alaska SEEDS OF CHANGE PROGRAM - HEARD PRESENTATION: ALASKA DIVISION OF PIONEER HOMES - PLANNING FOR TOMORROW - HEARD PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION BILL: SB 46 SHORT TITLE: CHILD SUPPORT AWARDS SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) KOOKESH 01/21/09 (S) PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/09
01/21/09 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS
01/21/09 (S) HSS, JUD, FIN 03/01/10 (S) HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205 WITNESS REGISTER SENATOR KOOKESH Alaska State Legislature Juneau, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 46. DOROTHY SHOCKLEY, Staff to Senator Kookesh Alaska State Legislature Juneau, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Provided information and explained the difference between the original version and the CS for SB 46. KENNETH KIRK, Attorney at Law Anchorage, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 46. STACY STEINBERG, Chief Assistant Attorney General Anchorage, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Provided information about proposed amendments to SB 46. ELEANOR ANDREWS, Board Chair Anchorage Urban League Anchorage, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Anchorage Urban League presentation - Seeds of Change. MICHAEL SOBOCINSKI, PhD Assistant Professor of Human Services University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Spoke about helping foster children transition into the community. DAVE COTE, Director Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes Juneau, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Spoke about the number of baby-boomers who will be entering the system soon. ACTION NARRATIVE 1:32:46 PM CHAIR BETTYE DAVIS called the Senate Health and Social Services Standing Committee meeting to order at p.m. Present at the call to order were Senators Dyson, Ellis, Paskvan and Davis. Senator Thomas arrived soon thereafter. SB 46-CHILD SUPPORT AWARDS CHAIR DAVIS announced consideration of SB 46. SENATOR THOMAS joined the committee. 1:33:48 PM SENATOR KOOKESH, sponsor of SB 46, said this bill relates to child support guidelines that were put in place when the Alaska Supreme Court enacted Civil Rule 90.3. In its discussion the court recognized that this is a substantive law and therefore the Legislature could it replace at any time. SB 46 proposes to do that. He observed that the most compelling reason for doing so is that it would no longer be necessary to wait four years before making changes to the guidelines. The bill does not intend to change Civil Rule 90.3; rather, it places the current rule into statute, he said. DOROTHY SHOCKLEY, Staff to Senator Kookesh, clarified that the proposed committee substitute (CS) does make a minor change to the rule; it changes the word "court" to "tribunal." She said that she is disappointed in the current process for changing child support guidelines because the people who are affected don't have a change to speak to the individuals who have the power to make changes. This has been a problem. The feedback that the sponsor has received is that people don't mind paying child support, but they don't agree with the formula the court has set. She related that she encouraged constituents to write to the review committee, but it made a disappointingly small difference. Just one statewide-call-in hearing was held. Putting the rule into statute is perhaps the only solution, she said. CHAIR DAVIS asked for a motion to adopt the work draft CS. 1:40:10 PM SENATOR PASKVAN moved to adopt the work draft CS for SB 46, labeled 26-LS0279\S, as the working document. There being no objection, version S was before the committee. CHAIR DAVIS asked Ms. Shockley to compare the CS to the original bill. MS. SHOCKLEY explained that the CS changes the word "court" to "tribunal" throughout the bill. CHAIR DAVIS noted that the packet also has several suggested amendments. SENATOR KOOKESH explained that the proposed amendments came from Stacy Steinberg with the Department of Law (DOL) and the committee could consider them now or at a subsequent hearing after they've been incorporated into a new CS. He said he supports the changes that the attorney general is recommending. CHAIR DAVIS asked if he'd like to make any other changes. SENATOR KOOKESH answered no; with the proposed amendments the bill has the support of the attorney general and the child enforcement division and he's pleased. CHAIR DAVIS said she'd have the new CS drafted. 1:45:35 PM KENNETH KIRK, representing himself, said he's an attorney who used to do child support cases and he's been on two previous review committees. He observed that the Alaska Supreme Court crossed a line in 1987 when it enacted Alaska Civil Rule 90.3 because the Alaska Constitution does not allow the courts to make substantive laws; they can make procedural and administrative rules and decide individual cases. He opined that the court thought it was making a temporary fix because the state was in danger of losing substantial federal funding if it didn't enact some sort of guidelines. Unfortunately, the Legislature hasn't introduced a bill on the subject until now. MR. KIRK said the problem with the current process is that the review committee receives input from agencies and the public but it doesn't make the decision. It's the Supreme Court that makes the decision even though it never hears from anybody. Sometimes the court ignores what the committee proposes; sometimes it makes changes that the committee never proposed; and sometimes it substantially alters the proposals. This is very different than the very democratic legislative process. He added that given the choice there are small things he would change in the guidelines, but the system is basically good and it's familiar. He informed the committee that changing the word "court" to "tribunal" comes from the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which in Alaska is AS 25.25, and it recognizes that the rules will be applied by the court in some situations and by the Child Support Services Division in other situations. The word "tribunal" refers to both. 1:49:44 PM MR. KIRK opined that changing to a different model of child support guidelines is worth consideration, but right now it's more important to pass this law. He pointed out that most states have what is called the income shares approach while Alaska has the percentage of income approach. Basically, Alaska bases child support on the non-custodial parent's income only, whereas the income shares approach distributes responsibility between both parents. CHAIR DAVIS said she isn't interested in making any changes to this bill due to the urgency to get something into statute, but later on she will be interested in looking at child support in general. 1:52:36 PM STACY STEINBERG, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Collections and Support Section, Civil Division, Department of Law (DOL), said they represent the Child Support Services Division (CSSD), and she worked with the sponsor to ensure that the legislation would meet the legal requirements. Referencing Mr. Kirk's testimony, she pointed out that the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the guidelines and [Civil Rule 90.3] are not unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Legislature at any time is able to make changes to the court rule if it perceives problems or believes that changes to the rule should be made on setting child support awards. CHAIR DAVIS asked her to review the amendments she's proposing. 1:54:34 PM MS. STEINBERG clarified that her office isn't proposing the amendments, but she has worked with the sponsor to address legal issues she spotted. CHAIR DAVIS asked Ms. Steinberg to tell the committee what she suggested to the sponsor. MS. STEINBERG provided the following information: · Page 5, line 13: The $100,000 child support cap should be $105,000 because the Supreme Court increased the income cap to $105,000 on April 15, 2009. · Page 7, lines 23-26: This adds language that the child support guidelines affidavit should be accompanied by documentation verifying the income and that the statement should be filed in superior court proceedings. · Page 8, line 20: This section deals with tribal expenses and the suggestion was to change "tribunal" on line 20, to "superior court" because CSSD doesn't allocate travel expenses between the parents. · Page 9, line 29: This section deals with child support order forms and the suggestion was to change the word "tribunal" to "superior court" because these are forms that the court has and it doesn't address CSSD. Alternatively, this section could be eliminated. · Page 10, line 4: This too deals with the court forms and the suggestion is to change "tribunal" to "superior court." · Page 10, line 5: This deals with the dependant tax deduction and the suggestion is to change "tribunal" to "superior court" because CSSD doesn't allocate the dependant tax deduction between the parties when it sets the child support award. · Page 6, line 21: Make a new subsection (b) following the word "means." that continues until after the word "insurance." on line 28. The language following that would be a new subsection (c). Renumber subsequent subsections. · Page 7, line 17: Replace the word "means" with "includes". · Page 8, line 28: after "insurance" add the phrase "and cash medical support". Following that sentence insert "A child support award may be modified to require cash medical support during periods when neither party has purchased health insurance for the children whether or not health insurance is available to either parent at a reasonable cost." MS. STEINBERG said she also informed the sponsor that federal regulations require that the section on healthcare expenses has to define the reasonable cost of health insurance, the accessibility of health insurance, and "cash medical support". She noted that these aren't currently addressed in Civil Rule 90.3, but that is being addressed. 2:02:25 PM CHAIR DAVIS closed public testimony and held SB 46 in committee. At ease from 2:03 p.m. to 2:04 p.m. ^Anchorage Urban League - Seeds of Change CHAIR DAVIS announced the next order of business is a presentation by the Anchorage Urban League. 2:04:50 PM ELEANOR ANDREWS, Chair, Anchorage Urban League (AUL), said AUL is the newest affiliate of the National Urban League, the second oldest civil rights organization in the nation. Its purpose is to provide direct services to African Americans and other people of color in the community to empower them to secure economic self-reliance and parity. She said she is emphasizing economic self-reliance and parity today because people have to be able to support themselves in their communities in order to enjoy all the rights of citizenship. The Anchorage Urban League seeks to help in this endeavor. She introduced Michael Sobocinski as the person who brought the Seeds of Change program to the AUL and as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, this is their charter program. 2:06:27 PM MICHAEL SOBOCINSKI, PhD., Assistant Professor of Human Services, University of Alaska Anchorage, stated that they are interested in helping to support youths coming out of the foster care system, institutional care, and juvenile justice systems transition into the community as young adults. This group of young adults is very vulnerable and at risk for bad outcomes in life. They tend to struggle during the transition with homelessness, difficulty finding employment that earns a livable wage, and unsafe living conditions. It's likely that they'll drop out of school and never go on to further education or training and get involved with the criminal justice system as young adults. MS. ANDREWS highlighted the social enterprise aspect of the Alaska Seeds of Change program with the explanation that she wanted to use the skills she learned in government to build a nonprofit that ran like a business. To that end, they have a hydroponic greenhouse where kids that have emotional, psychological, and educational problems will learn how to work and grow vegetables year round in an energy-efficient way. The kids will be able to work at the greenhouse and then take their skills into the community. 2:10:30 PM MR. SOBOCINSKI said that by the time institutionally raised kids reach age 18 they want a voice and the opportunity to practice skills they learn in non-institutional or real-world settings. They've noticed that these young adults participate less in mental health services and substance abuse services and perhaps it's because the programs are set up for older adults. Also, there are funding issues because there are eligibility differences between children's services and adult services. Sustainability of funding for youth and young adult programs has been a major challenge nationwide. But what is important in this program is that if youth are seen as resources, not just problems, there is great potential for them to realize what they can be as adults and contribute to the community. That's a major part of what the Alaska Seeds of Change program is built on, he said. 2:12:18 PM MR. SOBOCINSKI explained that Alaska Seeds of Change is a transitional behavioral health program that partners with behavioral health providers in the community to provide traditional services onsite to youth. This includes case management, skill development, and other supports that these youth need. They know that giving these young adults the chance to work with an adult in an employment setting is the best way to learn and practice skills to become employable. It's much more effective than classroom work. He related that he is a faculty member at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the College of Social Welfare is interested in using Seeds of Change as a practicum internship for students who are interested in learning how to work with transition age youths and young adults. They have been working with a national organization at the University of South Florida that has demonstrated effectiveness with this age group using an evidence-supported practice. This will be implemented at Seeds of Change. It leads to functional outcomes; you measure daily whether it's making a difference in terms of employability, staying in school, and not getting involved in the criminal justice system. They believe this is an opportunity for youth to play a leadership role in developing the local food system and contributing something of value to the community. 2:14:24 PM MS. ANDREWS displayed an architect's rendering of what the facility will look like; it includes a greenhouse, program space, educational space, and offices. The youths will be involved in the greenhouse, facilities maintenance and operations, administration tracking crop rotations, yield, and sales. Hopefully their involvement and the skills they learn translate to other types of job opportunities. They also plan to have an education completion program that's sponsored by the Anchorage School District. The superintendant is very enthusiastic about working with a group of kids whose needs haven't been met by the system. 2:16:30 PM MR. SOBOCINSKI highlighted the following goals and outcomes: · Higher rates of permanent employment and job retention. · Increased high school graduation rates. · Increased participation in vocational training. · Safe and stable housing arrangements. · Reduced reliance upon public support. · Reduced involvement with the legal system. · Creation of jobs that provide meaningful skills and work experience. · Decreased reliance on public support. · Reduce the impact of mental health and substance abuse problems on daily functioning. · Reduce the victimization rate for this age group as they come out of care and transition to young adulthood. · Help this age group to become engaged and participate in the community. · Working in and running the farmers market stands. · Donating food they grow to hunger reduction efforts like Kids Café will benefit other children and thus the community. · Building on the statewide interest in using waste heat these young adults can become involved in disseminating best practices for hydroponic growing and energy reduction technologies. 2:18:52 PM MS. ANDREWS informed the committee that she attended hydroponic growing school last October. She added that marketing in the Anchorage area indicates that restaurants and stores would readily purchase locally-grown hydroponic produce. She and Mr. Sobocinski have been working on the Seeds of Change project for about two years. After the project was conceptualized the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority provided pre-development funding because they could see that this program would meet the behavioral health needs of this age group that's basically been "lost in the shuffle." The Foraker Group has been similarly supportive and provided predevelopment services. This included help formulating a business plan for the Denali Commission; an engineer review; architectural services; and a quality marketing study. But, she said, what really makes this project work is the public/private partnership between the Municipality of Anchorage and Alaska Seeds of Change. She displayed an overhead view of the municipal power generation plant and explained the process for getting warmed water to the hydroponic greenhouse where vegetables will be grown year round using radiant heat. This means reduced electrical costs. 2:23:24 PM MS. ANDREWS displayed a slide showing the project fiscal plan as follows: Cost of greenhouse and program space $5,321,000 Proposed source of funds DHSS BTKH funds 1,400,000 Private foundations 1,750,000 Private corporate grants 900,000 Legislative appropriation 1,000,000 Other contributions 300,000 Total $5,350,000 Equity Estimated municipal land value $823,000 The arrangement for the DHSS/BTKH funds is that they will be matched by the Denali Commission. Last Friday the new federal co-chair of the Denali Commission asked for additional information, but she doesn't foresee this as a problem. She is similarly hopeful about the other proposed sources. 2:26:34 PM Alaska Seeds of Change major partners are as follows: · Municipality of Anchorage · Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority · Foraker Group · State of Alaska · Division of Juvenile Justice · Division of Behavioral Health · Office of Children's Services · University of Alaska Anchorage · College of Health & Social Welfare · NeighborWorks of Anchorage · Denali Family Services · Casey Family Foundation: CFF has pledged to reduce the nationwide foster care population by 50 percent by 2020 and they have identified Alaska Seeds of Change as a new idea to help break the cycle so these young people don't become the next generation that has kids they can't support and don't know how to work. · Facing Foster Care in Alaska · University of Alaska Fairbanks · Cooperative Extension Services 2:30:01 PM MR. SOBOCINSKI said they've been approaching community organizations like the Denali Family Services with the message that Alaska Seeds of Change is filling a gap in the service continuum. It's designed as a program to help young adults who have been successful in care but need a little support in order to make the next step to successful independence in the community. He mentioned the work that Amanda Metivier has done with Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA) and said working with her group fits with their model, which relies heavily on peer supports and mentors, both informal and formal. He mentioned the last partner on the list and related that a colleague is touring hydroponic growing facilities in Arizona with an eye towards a number of Alaska projects including Seeds of Change. It's exciting to see the connections between different sectors and the intersections in this project, he said. He thanked the committee for the opportunity to present the project. CHAIR DAVIS expressed enthusiasm about the project. 2:32:22 PM SENATOR DYSON asked if the existing labor laws might be an impediment to putting kids to work. MS. ANDREWS replied the youths who work will be over age 16 and they'll be paid the Alaska minimum wage. SENATOR DYSON asked where she is in the process of getting the $1,000,000 appropriation from the Legislature. MS. ANDREWS replied this is the first step. SENATOR DYSON observed that they are late to the process this year and they need an influential champion on one or both finance committees. MS. ANDREWS said she hopes there are champions who haven't yet announced themselves. SENATOR THOMAS asked what age group is involved. MR. SOBOCINSKI replied they're looking to serve youths between the ages 17 and 22, primarily age 18 to 21. SENATOR THOMAS said he assumes they'll track these youths when they leave the program and hopes they'll be used to help influence other youths. He also hopes they'll track the potential savings that were created by this program. 2:35:22 PM MR. SOBOCINSKI said a major goal of this project is to demonstrate those kinds of changes. One reason they're interested in working with the University of South Florida is that they've been measuring functional and practical outcomes of programs nationwide since about 1996. SENATOR PASKVAN asked how many youths they expect to participate, how long they would participate, and would they potentially come from other areas of the state. MR. SOBOSINSKI replied they anticipate serving youths from across the state who happen to be aging out when they're in Anchorage. Several treatment programs are located in Anchorage but they draw from the entire state. Many youth in this situation may want to return to other communities but they may or may not be ready to do so once they reach age 18 and leave children's services. Once Seeds of Change is up and going the capacity will be 20 youths. The program will be individualized so youths will leave the program when they're ready to move into permanent employment, but they anticipate a timeframe between 9 and 18 months. Youths who graduate from the program will have the opportunity to return as youth leaders and mentors for summer programming. CHAIR DAVIS thanked the participants. ^ Division of Pioneer Homes: Planning for Tomorrow 2:38:03 PM CHAIR DAVIS announced the final order of business is a presentation by the Division of Pioneer Homes. DAVE COTE, Director, Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes, stated that his purpose today is to articulate concern about the number of baby-boomers who very soon will be entering the system. He related that he engaged a contractor to look at the Pioneer Home System and the senior demographics and provide recommendations on how to properly serve this population. He displayed Table 1 that clearly demonstrates that the senior population is growing and will continue to grow over the next 20 years. These numbers make it clear that it's time to shore up the entire service array for seniors, he said. There's need for more home and community-based services, private sector assisted living homes, more pioneer home capacity, and perhaps additional nursing homes. MR. COTE displayed Table 2 that shows that there are 508 licensed beds in the six pioneer homes in the state. Table 3 shows that 462 or 92.2 percent of those beds are occupied. He added that the system has operated at more than 90 percent capacity for some years. Table 4 demonstrates the three levels of care: Level 1 independent; level 2 semi independent, and level 3 dependent care. In all 6 locations over 50 percent of the occupants require level 3 care. He said he attributes that to the success of the home and community-based services. People aren't presenting until they're in their 80s and their service needs are more acute. Table 5 demonstrates this age demographic. Table 6 illustrates that all 6 homes have long wait lists. People on the active wait list must be ready to admit him/herself to a pioneer home within 30 days of a tendered offer. He noted that Juneau, for example, has a four year wait list. He briefly explained that tables 7-12 give the population by age bracket by community for each of the 6 pioneer homes. MR. COTE said table 13 illustrates the projected demand for new beds, 2015-2030, based on the contractor's analysis. They estimate these additional needs: · 98 additional beds by 2015 · 131 additional beds by 2020 · 202 additional beds by 2025 · 298 additional beds by 2030 · Total additional bed capacity needed by 2030 is 729. MR. COTE said he isn't entirely sure he agrees with the numbers, but he can see the need to do something and do it today because waiting too long will leave seniors with no place to go. He said he's come to the following conclusions: · There is a clear need to expand the entire service array for seniors over the next 20 years. · Pioneer homes have a place in this service array. He proposes to add bed capacity in a phased approach. · Conduct a study looking at the feasibility of adding capacity where land is already available. · In Fairbanks they already have 16 acres available. · The Juneau Pioneer Home was designed to have another wing. · Focus on adding level 3 capacity because that's where the demand is. 2:48:07 PM SENATOR ELLIS asked how much the feasibility study will cost. MR. COTE replied he doesn't know, but he realizes that he's missed the opportunity for 2011 money. CHAIR DAVIS suggested he gather the information and perhaps the committee could move forward next session. SENATOR PASKVAN asked how long a person can be on the inactive wait list. MR. COTE answered forever as long as they live in Alaska. He explained that to get on a pioneer home wait list you must be age 65 or older and be a resident of Alaska for one year. 2:51:48 PM SENATOR ELLIS said he appreciates the positive remarks about home and community-based services because it's the best level of care to keep folks from needing to go a pioneer home. He said for years he's followed the increasing level of acuity of people entering pioneer homes. When he first entered public service pioneer home residents were active community participants and now a lot of the people are in critical nursing care. He noted that the Senate last year passed legislation for annual rate reviews for home and community-based services the same as hospital and nursing homes receive annually, and if the House passes it and the governor signs it there'd be a more secure foundation to deal with the coming tsunami of seniors needing help in later years. 2:53:47 PM There being no further business to come before the committee, Chair Davis adjourned the meeting at 2:53 p.m.