I, Tony Knowles, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of article III, sections 1 and 24, of the Alaska Constitution, and in accordance with AS 44.19.145(c) establish the Commission on Child Protection (Commission) in the Office of the Governor.
Background and Purpose
The protection of children who have been abused and neglected is a core responsibility of the State of Alaska. The child protective services system is complex and requires the constant attention of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government. The child protection system is, by its very nature, controversial insofar as it involves the state in the most personal aspects of many Alaskans’ lives.
Through the “Smart Start for Alaska’s Children” initiative and other efforts, measurable progress has been made on many fronts-more reports of harm against children investigated, a rewritten child protection law, speedier adoptions, and better basic health care for thousands of children.
In accordance with federal law, the State of Alaska is undergoing a comprehensive review of its child protection system. The release of that review is imminent and will identify strengths and weaknesses in the child protection system.
Every year since 1997, the Legislature has been asked to provide additional resources to both improve the child protection system, as well as to provide support to children and families at risk of entering the system. The Legislature has funded some of these requests, and the result has been a significant improvement to the system-more adoptions through the “Balloon Project” and thousands more children with basic health care through our Denali KidCare program, for example. Many other requests were not funded by the Legislature. Just a few examples-extra troopers for child sexual assault denied, no additional funding to expand the “Dual Track” program to investigate minor reports of harm, and rejection of a modest rate increase to help us attract and retain foster parents. Additional funding and improvements to the child protection system are needed.
The purpose of this Administrative Order is to recognize the need to identify and quantify appropriate next steps to further strengthen the system. The report of the Commission should serve to educate all Alaskans about the tragedy of child abuse, generate the commitment of candidates for public office to continue to improve the child protection system, and lead to budgetary recommendations for additional resources.
Duties of the Commission
The duty of the Commission is to prepare and submit a report to the Governor by
October 1, 2002, that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- A review of recent reports and findings related to the child protection system including review of at least the following: Child Protection Review Team Report to Governor Knowles, (December 1997); reports of the legislative auditor; and the findings of the federal review of child and family services programs under federal law.
- An assessment of the impact of recent enhancements to the child protective services systems including at least the following: the Balloon Project; state/tribal collaborative efforts; the health passport program; and the training academy.
- Recommendations for elements to be included in the Program Improvement Plan, which is under development in response to the findings of the review under federal law.
- Recommendations for additional improvements to systems and services that support the child protection system or support families and children at risk of entering the child protection system, including mental health and substance abuse treatment services.
- Recommendations for the creation of a formal and periodic process for clients and stakeholders to evaluate child protection system performance.
- Recommendations for the continuation of formal mechanisms to improve coordination among state agencies in the child protection system.
- Documentation of child protection case scenarios that highlight the successes and continuing challenges of the child protection system.
The Commission will consist of members appointed by the Governor to serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services, or the commissioner’s designee, shall chair the Commission.
Commission members do not receive compensation as a member of the Commission. Members of the Commission who are not state employees are entitled to per diem and travel expenses in the same manner permitted for members of state boards and commissions. Per diem and travel expenses for members of the Commission who are appointed as a member of a state agency are the responsibility of that state agency.
This Order takes effect immediately.
Dated at Juneau, Alaska, this 12th day of August 2002.
By: S/S Tony Knowles