SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska DHSS Proposed Split Criticized

Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN


January 15, 2021
Friday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - In a meeting Wednesday, the Alaska House Health and Social Services Committee held a teleconference meeting on the governor’s plans to split Division of Health and Social Services into two departments [Listen]. Health care workers, social service organizationa and tribal governments testified. The focus of the meeting was on the impacts tochild welfare in the state and the impacts of reorganization. The teleconference began at 10:03 AM and adjourned at 11:50 AM.

Dunleavy issued an executive order to establish the Department of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services. The governor's order will be submitted in the legislative session that starts on Jan. 19,, 2021. The order must be approved by a majority vote in a joint session of the Legislature to go into effect.

In testimony Wednesday, Tanana Chiefs Conference Chairman P.J. Simon said while that organization was willing to work with the governor's administration on an alternative plan to reduce bureaucracy, the current proposal would negatively affect social services.

Simons testified the proposed split would produce “worse outcomes than the status quo.”

Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson provided testimony to the Alaska State Legislature's House Health and Social Services Committee concerning the proposed bifurcation of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).

Governor Mike Dunleavy first announced the reorganization on December 22, 2020, citing the DHSS has grown too large as a single department. Overall, health care workers, social service organizations and tribal governments believe the split would negatively impact Alaskan citizens.

During his testimony [Listen], President Peterson expressed Tlingit & Haida's concerns that the split would make it more difficult to provide the services needed to provide adequate child welfare programs, particularly considering that the majority of children under state care are Alaska Native.

“It is hard to discuss the bifurcation of DHSS without talking about negative impacts,” said President Peterson during testimony.

Another area of concern is that the state had not contacted Tlingit & Haida or other Alaska tribes to consult in a true government-to-government relationship.

“We met with Commissioner Crum as part of the working group last week,” said President Peterson. “You know, coming to the table and telling us a decision that has already been made really isn’t consultation. It doesn’t fit government-to-government consultation at all.”

Quoting a news release from Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, their tribal citizens are encouraged to stay informed on all actions taking place during the legislative session and engage with their elected representatives.


On the Web:

January 13, 2021 Teleconference Meeting [Listen]

Casey AK H&SS Comte FINAL presentation for 1-13-21.pdf

Updated Ltr to TSCG 1.6.2021.pdf

OCS Proposed Restructure Testimony Jan 14 2021.pdf


Source of News:

January 13, 2021 Teleconference Meeting

Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska


Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Send a letter to the

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2021
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

 Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews are considered protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper freelance writers and subscription services.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.