Report Title:

Legal Services To Children; Appropriations


Appropriates $300,000 per year for fiscal years 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, to fund legal services for children. (SD1)


S.B. NO.



S.D. 1






Making an appropriation for the needs and rights of children.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the mission of Na Keiki Law Center, a project of Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii, is to provide legal representation and advocacy for children whose legal rights are not being protected. The children of Hawaii have greatly benefited from the existence of Na Keiki Law Center.

Since its creation in 1999, Na Keiki Law Center handled approximately two thousand intakes in the last three and a half years. Na Keiki Law Center has facilitated the placement of approximately seventy children, who were previously without parents or were not being cared for properly, into safe, legal guardianships with relatives or family friends. Without such placement, the monthly cost to the State to provide foster care for these children would have totaled approximately $37,798. Foster board payments for one year for these children would have cost the State $444,360. This amount does not even begin to reflect the cost involved in the commencement of a child protective service case which would include attorneys’ fees for the parents and the minor and the time and money associated with the utilization of social workers, the attorney general's office, and the judiciary. Multiply these numbers by the many years that children remain in foster care and it becomes clear that Na Keiki Law Center has saved the State literally millions of dollars in these cases alone.

Additionally, child protective services, the department of human services, and numerous other state agencies have referred approximately four hundred fifty callers to Na Keiki Law Center regarding reports of the abuse or neglect of a child. Of the actual intakes, approximately four hundred concerned an abused or neglected child, approximately four hundred related to a child's exposure to domestic violence, and more than four hundred fifty involved a child whose parents were using drugs. Na Keiki Law Center also provides assistance to orphaned children. Both hospices and hospitals refer clients to Na Keiki Law Center staff who meet with terminally ill parents, their children and any available support system to discuss available legal options.

The legislature finds that the economic and social well-being of Hawaii's children is a crucial issue to the future of the State. Therefore, it is prudent to authorize the appropriation of funds for the provision of legal services to children by nonprofit organizations such as the Na Keiki Law Center and others, in order to protect the legal rights of Hawaii's children.

SECTION 2. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $300,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2003-2004, and $300,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2004-2005, to fund legal services to children.

SECTION 3. The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of labor and industrial relations for the purposes of this Act.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2003.