S.B. NO.



S.D. 1
















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the Hawaii zero to three court is a specialty court in the family court of the first circuit court, established in 2009 with initial funding from the national Zero to Three program.  Zero to three courts are rooted in developmental science and aim to improve outcomes for maltreated infants and toddlers, reduce the reoccurrence of substantiated abuse and neglect of infants and toddlers in the court's jurisdiction, and change the courts' culture to focus on the needs of infants and toddlers.

     Specifically, the Hawaii program trains professionals, secures effective service resources, encourages collaboration among existing community service providers, and increases parent-child contact.  Key features of this specialized court include monthly case conferences for each family, monthly court hearings, and a court team composed of a lead family court judge, designated guardian ad litem, parents' counsel, deputy attorneys general, and social workers from the department of human services.  The court hearings provide intensive judicial oversight and accountability for all parties while keeping the team focused on timely permanency.  Parent activities are held the same day as the monthly court hearing to enhance parenting skills and build a support system with the other families in the program in a safe, judgment-free environment.  Infants and toddlers in the program receive a comprehensive developmental assessment which results in appropriate referrals to services, and zero to three court families also participate in parent–child interaction therapy or child-parent psychotherapy to promote healthy family functioning.

     The legislature further finds that there are sixteen families in the Hawaii zero to three court and the program is seeking to expand its capacity to twenty families.  Participation in the Hawaii zero to three court is voluntary for parents who meet the criteria of having been adjudicated in the family court and having at least one child between the ages of zero to three.  National funding ceased in 2012 and the judiciary has continued to support the program by transferring the program for administrative purposes to the first circuit family drug court.

     The legislature additionally finds that the University of Hawaii center on disability studies conducted an evaluation of Hawaii zero to three court activities from August 2013 to July 2016.  The study concluded that the Hawaii zero to three court is successfully meeting the objectives of reducing parental alcohol or drug use, improving reunification outcomes for families, decreasing the number of placements and the length of stay in foster care, increasing visitation frequency, ensuring timeliness of service availability, and increasing access to services.  The legislature therefore concludes that stable funding is critically needed to continue and enhance services and resources and to further develop the capacity of the Hawaii zero to three court team.

     The purpose of this Act is to appropriate funds to support the Hawaii zero to three court.  It is not the legislature's intent that the appropriated funds supplant the judiciary's existing funding or budget requests.

     SECTION 2.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $212,072 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019-2020 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the Hawaii zero to three court to be distributed as follows:

     (1)  $59,616 for a permanent program manager position;

     (2)  $52,956 for a case manager position;

     (3)  $7,000 for visitation transportation cost for parents;

     (4)  $35,000 for housing assistance;

     (5)  $3,500 for a parent incentive program similar to the model used in family drug court;

     (6)  $18,000 for training and professional development of court team members and community partners; and

     (7)  $36,000 for service contracts for visitation and parent coaching.

     The sums appropriated shall be expended by the judiciary for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2019.


Report Title:

Keiki Caucus; Hawaii Zero to Three Court; Appropriation



Appropriates funds for the Hawaii Zero to Three Court.  (SD1)




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