THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

1351

THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023

S.D. 2

STATE OF HAWAII

H.D. 1

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO INFANT AND EARLY CHILDHOOD MENTAL HEALTH.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the health and development of children under five years of age is critical to strengthening Hawaii's communities. There are approximately twenty-nine thousand keiki from birth up to age five in Hawaii who have mental health needs. The legislature also finds that early mental health issues are caused by biological and developmental special needs at birth, child abuse and neglect, exposure to intimate partner violence, parental substance abuse, housing insecurity, and poverty. These mental health issues result in social and emotional development delays that negatively impact adult and child relationships, peer interactions, and the ability to manage emotions appropriately. Without a system of services and supports in place, children with mental health needs are at risk of experiencing future behavioral and academic issues.

Furthermore, the legislature finds that interventions at an early stage of life can result in future cost savings for special education, mental health treatment, juvenile justice, and incarceration. The legislature further finds that parents, pediatricians, home visitors, and child care providers can be the first responders to mental health concerns. Identifying problems early and intervening before they increase in severity will provide the best chance of helping young children with mental health needs succeed and lead healthy and happy lives.

Additionally, the legislature finds that unmet childhood mental health needs were on the rise before the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and have since worsened. In a preliminary study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Columbia University researchers found that compared to babies born just before the COVID-19 pandemic, babies born during the first year of the pandemic scored lower on a developmental screening test of social and motor skills at six months regardless of whether their mothers contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy. Other factors, including fewer play dates and altered interactions with stressed caregivers, may help explain why babies born during the pandemic have weaker social and motor skills than babies born before the pandemic.

The legislature also finds that the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts have disproportionately affected groups already experiencing disparities and inequities. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders do not have equitable access to preventive care, services, and treatment to address physical and mental health needs. These inequities contribute to family stress, toxic stress, and adverse childhood experiences, and perpetuate intergenerational and historical trauma.

The purpose of this Act is to create and appropriate funds for an infant and early childhood mental health program in the department of health, including one permanent full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position.

SECTION 2. Chapter 321, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to part XXV to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"321-    Infant and early childhood mental health program; established. (a) There is established within the department of health the infant and early childhood mental health program, to provide and support mental health services for children from birth up to age five. The program shall focus on providing children with the ability to:

(1) Form close and secure adult and peer relationships;

(2) Experience, manage, and express a full range of emotions; and

(3) Explore the environment and learn, all in the context of family, community, and culture.

(b) The infant and early childhood mental health program shall develop and implement flexible strategies for the delivery of services and workforce training in a variety of settings, including early child care and learning, home visitation, and early intervention, and promote better understanding of the needs of infants and young children, the importance of positive early relationships, and the benefits of trauma-informed care."

SECTION 3. There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2023-2024 and the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 for the establishment and operations of the infant and early childhood mental health program, including the establishment of one permanent full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position.

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

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2050.


 


 

Report Title:

DOH; Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Program; Establishment; Positions; Appropriation

 

Description:

Establishes the infant and early childhood mental health program within the department of health to provide and coordinate mental health services for children from birth up to age five. Appropriates funds for the establishment of the program, including one permanent full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) position. Effective 7/1/2050. (HD1)

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.