STAND. COM. REP. NO. 544
RE: S.B. No. 1351
Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi
President of the Senate
Thirty-Second State Legislature
Regular Session of 2023
State of Hawaii
Your Committee on Health and Human Services, to which was referred S.B. No. 1351 entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO INFANT AND EARLY CHILDHOOD MENTAL HEALTH,"
begs leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to:
(1) Establish the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Program within the Department of Health to provide and coordinate mental health services for children from birth to age five;
(2) Develop and implement flexible strategies for the delivery of services and workforce training; and
(3) Promote better understanding of the needs of infants and young children, the importance of positive early relationships, and the benefits of trauma-informed care.
Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Office of the Governor, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Executive Office on Early Learning, Office of Wellness and Resilience, Early Learning Board, Hawai‘i Community Foundation, Commit to Keiki, Early Childhood Action Strategy, Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, Promising Minds, Domestic Violence Action Center, Hawai‘i Children's Action Network Speaks!, Hawaii Catholic Conference, Parents and Children Together, Hawai‘i Early Childhood Educator Excellence and Equity Project, and five individuals. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Judiciary, Association for Infant Mental Health in Hawai‘i, and one individual.
Your Committee finds that approximately 29,000 keiki from birth to age five in Hawaii have mental health needs due to biological or developmental special needs at birth, exposure to intimate partner violence, parental substance abuse, housing insecurity, and poverty. Because these needs are often untreated, these children are more likely to be expelled or suspended from preschool, be ill-prepared for kindergarten, and require special education services. Later in life, some of these children may be involved with the juvenile and adult justice systems and be at higher risk for self-harm and suicide due to depression and anxiety.
Further, your Committee finds that Hawaii does not have enough mental health professionals to address community needs, much less the specialized skills necessary for infant and early childhood mental health. As a result, establishing the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Program within the Department of Health will provide the leadership and coordination to improve accessibility, capacity, and quality of infant and early childhood mental health services and address the numerous unmet needs of keiki and families in Hawaii.
Your Committee has amended this measure by making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.
As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Health and Human Services that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 1351, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 1351, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Health and Human Services,
JOY A. SAN BUENAVENTURA, Chair