STAND. COM. REP. NO. 2458
RE: S.B. No. 2476
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Twenty-Eighth State Legislature
Regular Session of 2016
State of Hawaii
Your Committees on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health and Education, to which was referred S.B. No. 2476 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH,"
beg leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to:
(1) Establish within the Department of Health, Family Health Services Division, an early language acquisition program to assess and track language development for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind;
(2) Require the Family Health Services Division to:
(A) Select language development milestones used to meet federal requirements for the assessment of children from birth to age five, inclusive;
(B) Use the language development milestones to develop a resource for use by parents to monitor and track deaf, heard of hearing, and deaf-blind children's receptive and expressive language acquisition and developmental stages related to English literacy and appropriate communication skills; and
(C) Select educator tools or assessments that can be used to assess the language and literacy development of child who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind;
(3) Starting on or before July 1, 2018, require the Family Health Services Division in conjunction with the Department of Education to produce a report that is specific to language and literacy development of deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind children from birth to five years of age;
(4) Establish an early language acquisition advisory committee to obtain input from experts on the selection of language development milestones for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind;
(5) If a deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind child does not demonstrate progress in expressive or receptive language skills, require individualized family services plans or individualized education plans to explain why a child is not meeting language developmental milestones and make recommendations to assist the child's success toward English literacy; and
(6) Make an appropriation to the Department of Health for the establishment of language development milestones and the corresponding parent resource and educator tools and assessments.
Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Disability and Communication Access Board; School Community Council of the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind; Hawaii Deaf Surfriders Association; Aloha State Association of the Deaf; Isle Interpret, LLC; and thirty-two individuals. Your Committees received comments on this measure from the Department of Education, Department of Health, Executive Office on Early Learning, and one individual.
Your Committees find that children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the same ability and capability to learn language as their peers who do not have a similar disability. The ability and right to develop language are central to the human experience and necessary prerequisites to literacy as well as cognitive, emotional, linguistic, academic, and social growth and the chance for children to evolve into healthy and productive members of society. Without communication through language, formal education is not possible.
Your Committees further find that current statistics show many children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind arrive at kindergarten with severe language delays and, in many cases, language deprivation. Children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind often begin kindergarten without the necessary language skills to acquire the knowledge and academic competencies that will allow them to be successful in school and life.
Your Committees have amended this measure by deleting its contents and inserting language that:
(1) Establishes an early learning acquisition program with various services for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind within the Department of Health to support age-appropriate language development for children from birth to age three years who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind;
(2) Establishes a working group for the purposes of investigating issues related to resources and tools for parents of children who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind and improvements to the statewide system of services that support age-appropriate language development for children from birth to age five who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind and reporting findings and recommendations to the Legislature prior to the Regular Sessions of 2017 and 2018;
(3) Appropriates funds for three permanent full-time equivalent (3.0 FTE) positions to establish and operate the early language acquisition program; and
(4) Appropriates funds for one-full time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position to teach American Sign Language for children from birth to age five who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.
As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health and Education that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 2476, as amended herein, and recommend that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 2476, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health and Education,
MICHELLE N. KIDANI, Chair
ROSALYN H. BAKER, Chair