Summary: The report includes a number of recommendations that highlight areas in which the department can improve existing services. The department could implement changes that directly improve service. It could also implement internal improvements that, while not as apparent to the outside observer, could have a measurable effect on the department’s ability to provide quality services.
Key Finding to Improve Service
- In 2012, Alaska had the third highest spending to address child abuse and neglect per 1,000 children out of all states, yet it falls behind all states in its response time to reports of child abuse and neglect. (pg. 56)
Key Recommendations to Improve Service
- Create an Office of Tribal Relationships in DHSS’ Office of the Commissioner.
Most of the divisions within DHSS have extensive interactions with Alaska Native tribal communities, and the Divisions of Health Care Services, Behavioral Health, and Juvenile Justice as well as the Office of Children’s Services have a tribal office or liaison. A central office should coordinate with the tribal liaisons in each division to better serve tribal members’ needs.
- Elevate prevention issues within DHSS.
The return on investment from prevention and early intervention programs has been well documented in the fields of health care, public health, and early childhood programs. Generally speaking, prevention and early intervention programs have a low profile in DHSS. The department does not have an office dedicated to these issues. Elevating prevention issues within DHSS may be achieved by creating a prevention and early intervention office or by clearly identifying and tracking the return on investment of prevention and early intervention programs in budget documents.