Knowles appoints child welfare panel

Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Gov. Tony Knowles pre-empted a federal audit of the state's child welfare system on Monday by creating a panel of his own to make recommendations to the next governor.

The 16-member Commission on Child Protection will be expected to make recommendations by Oct. 1 on improving the state's child protection services.

Knowles said its work will be included in transition documents his staff is preparing for the next governor. Knowles has served two terms as governor and leaves office in December.

A federal review team recently completed an audit of the state Division of Family and Youth Services examining that very topic. The report is expected to be released within two weeks, state officials said.

The review was for the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is part of a larger audit of all 50 states.

Health and Social Services Commissioner Jay Livey, who oversees DFYS, said the audit will be critical of Alaska's foster care efforts and its response to some child neglect cases.

Among the criticisms, the state needs to provide greater stability for children in foster care, allow more parental visitations and include parents in case management decisions, Livey said.

Alaska also needs to improve its record of investigating cases of neglect or harm to children, Livey said.

Social workers investigate about 92 percent of child neglect and harm cases that are reported to the state. Six years ago, about 73 percent of such cases were investigated.

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