January 29, 1999
Contact: Rep. Dennis Arakaki
Phone: 586-6050


The House Committee on Human Services and Housing will hold an informational briefing on the recently completed report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor on the Department on Human Services (DHS), committee chairman Rep. Dennis Arakaki (Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley) said today.

The briefing will be held on Monday, February 1, 1999, at the State Capitol, Conference Room 329, beginning at 8:30 a.m. A formal hearing on related bills will follow at approximately 10 a.m., in the same room.

The audit was requested by the Legislature last year and Arakaki said his committee is very interested in the findings. "We made the request because of concerns that some (child abuse) cases were not being handled in a timely manner and no one was being held accountable," he said.

Arakaki said he has no interest in placing blame on anyone. "Our focus is to identify the problems and do what needs to be done to correct them. Because even if one child falls through the cracks, thatís one too many.

"It is important to emphasize that we as a community need to be part of the solution Ė not just to point fingers and lay blame at a state agency. We must care enough as individuals to prevent child abuse and neglect before harm occurs," he said.

"And itís not simply a matter of throwing more money at the problem. We need to know first that the money already appropriated is being spent effectively and appropriately."

Arakaki said the committee has requested DHS and the Family Court each provide a response at the briefing.

"My hope is that all of those involved Ė DHS, the courts, police, the legislature Ė will make a commitment to improve the system," Arakaki said.

The committee includes Rep. Michael Kahikina, vice chair, and members Rep. Bertha Kawakami, Rep. Marilyn Lee, Rep. Alexander Santiago, Rep. David Stegmaier, Rep. Bob McDermott, and Rep. David Pendleton.