Workforce Development; Services for Freely Associated States Immigrants
Requires leeward community college to establish a program to provide cultural education and integration, language, employment, training, and legal services for Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan immigrants in Hawaii in order to assist them in becoming gainfully employed members of the community. Appropriates funds out of any available federal funds for the establishment of pilot programs. (SD3)
TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2004
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to Workforce Development.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
Section 1. The legislature finds that Hawaii attracts migrating citizens from the Freely Associated States — the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau — seeking education, health, and economic advancement for themselves and their families. However, currently, the State is ill-equipped to facilitate their assimilation into our community. In the past few years there have been a growing number of Freely Associated States students enrolling in Hawaii's public schools who face numerous challenges due to cultural differences, including language barriers. These students and their families lack not only the language skills, but also the cultural awareness necessary to survive, let alone excel, in their new environment.
The legislature further finds that it is incumbent upon the community to assist these Freely Associated States citizens residing in Hawaii so as to decrease the likelihood of their need to rely upon public assistance in the future. Providing the Freely Associated States communities with a coordinated support system that is culturally coherent and addresses education and health is vital to the development of an educated and productive workforce within these communities. Consequently, the provision of culturally coherent family support services now, in conjunction with educational and employment training services, can in turn increase these immigrants' ability to become contributory members of the community, thereby stimulating the State's economy through their employment and payment of taxes.
The legislature determines that certain areas of Oahu have experienced significant increases in their Freely Associated States citizen populations, particularly in Waipahu and Kalihi. At Waipahu elementary school, the English as a second language program comprises over forty per cent of the school's total student population, which is one of the largest English as a second language programs in the leeward district. In the past three years, they have experienced dramatic increases in the number of Marshallese and Chuukese students participating in the English as a second language program, evidenced through an increase from twenty to one hundred and eleven Marshallese students and zero to fifty-two Chuukese students.
Furthermore, assisting these communities is challenging in that, due to cultural differences and a lack of cultural awareness, members of the Freely Associated States communities are often unwilling to immediately trust and accept services from individuals and organizations within the larger community. Thus, the need to tap into either existing organizations with established relationships with the Freely Associated States communities or existing methods or approaches for successfully serving the Freely Associated States communities is essential in effectively assimilating, educating, and preparing Freely Associated States community members for gainful employment within the State.
The legislature also determines that the University of Hawaii, including the community college system, is dedicated to the betterment of all diverse ethnic populations in Hawaii. As part of the community college system, leeward community college is an educational institution that is sensitive to cultural awareness and education and is also dedicated to offering quality workforce programs. As such, leeward community college is an ideal candidate for shepherding a workforce program to provide comprehensive services to the Freely Associated States communities.
SECTION 2. The purpose of this Act is to require leeward community college to develop a program for the provision of services to Freely Associated States students to ensure their success in school, as well as to the Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan communities at large, through cultural education and integration, language, employment, training, and legal services, that may include but are not limited to services to:
(1) Ensure that students from the Freely Associated States are equipped with the necessary tools and skills to achieve success in school;
(2) Develop a comprehensive multi-disciplinary community-based family support system for immigrants from the Freely Associated States;
(3) Address transitioning issues through the promotion of cultural coherence and self-identification;
(4) Provide employment and training instruction to assist with job readiness, job placement, and job retention, which shall include but not be limited to:
(A) Basic educational skills training;
(B) Occupational skills training;
(C) English as a second language training; and
(5) Provide for the training of service-providing professionals that encompasses a holistic approach to problem solving and instruction on cultural awareness and sensitivity of the several Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan cultures; and
(6) Collect and disseminate information regarding successful methods of serving immigrants from the Freely Associated States in the form of written documentation, oral or video presentations, or by means of any other appropriate medium.
The office of continuing education at leeward community college shall oversee and administer the program through the provision of grants to community-based service providers for these services. In administering the grants to providers for the performance of these services, the office of continuing education shall require that organizations demonstrate documented prior experience and a successful track record in serving the Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan communities, as a condition to participation in the grant application process.
SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of any available federal funds provided to the State, the sum of $ , or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2004-2005, to the office of continuing education at leeward community college for the establishment of pilot programs in Waipahu and Kalihi to serve the Micronesian, Marshallese, and Palauan communities.
SECTION 4. The sum appropriated shall be expended by the University of Hawaii for the purposes of this Act.
SECTION 5. Leeward community college shall submit a report to the legislature indicating the utilization of the funds received by the leeward community college under section 3 of this Act and services for which the funds were expended not less than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2005.
SECTION 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval; provided that sections 3 and 4 shall take effect on July 1, 2004.