Report Title:

Children; Foster Custody; Religious Freedom

Description:

Requires the department of human services to ensure that foster care providers respect and maintain the religious beliefs of the foster child's family.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

1794

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the religious faith and instruction of children placed in foster custody is often an important matter that has not been given proper attention. Inattention to the religious beliefs held by the child's family may undermine the religious faith and training of the child while in foster custody. In some cases, the child is required to follow the religious practices of their foster care providers or department of human services employees or contractors.

SECTION 2. Chapter 587, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"587-    Religious instruction of child in foster custody. (a) Until a legal parent's parental rights are terminated pursuant to part VI of chapter 571, the department shall require foster care providers to honor the instructions of the family of a child in foster custody with regard to the child receiving religious instruction, attending religious services, and participating in religious activities. The department shall ensure the provision of religious instruction, attendance at church services and religious education, and participation in religious youth organizations for the child in accordance with the religious beliefs of the child's family.

(b) No child in foster custody shall be forced or otherwise required to participate in a foster care provider's religious practices or be punished, ostracized, or isolated by a foster care provider during the observation of the child's religious practices.

(c) No child in foster custody shall be denied access to the child's own pastor, priest, rabbi, or spiritual advisor.

(d) In the absence of a finding by the department of a substantial, measurable, and identifiable risk of harm to the child, a child in foster custody shall be allowed to worship with the child's own family at a place of worship of their choosing, and the worship shall not be considered a part of any visitation schedule."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

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