THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

398

THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to child welfare.

 

 

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

 


SECTION 1. The purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Expand the investigative powers of the department of human services to include review and investigation of families that receive benefits from the State's adoption assistance program and against whom a post‑adoption complaint has been made;

(2) Require the department of human services to report to the legislature before the convening of the regular session of 2025 on the impact of expanding post‑permanency services to families receiving benefits from the adoption assistance program;

(3) Require the department of human services to establish a working group to seek, design, and recommend transformative changes to the State's existing child welfare system; and

(4) Appropriate funds to increase the procurement of contracted services to provide additional support, resources, and monitoring of post-permanency services.

SECTION 2. Section 346-301, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]346-301[]] Adoption assistance program established[.]; review or investigation of program benefit recipients. The department of human services shall maintain an adoption assistance program to facilitate the adoption of children with special needs. Families receiving benefits from the adoption assistance program and against whom a post-adoption complaint has been made with the department of human services shall be subject to review or investigation in a manner, place, and form as may be prescribed by the department or its authorized agents in accordance with chapters 350 and 587A."

SECTION 3. The department of human services shall collect and analyze data to determine the impact of expanding post‑permanency services to families receiving benefits from the adoption assistance program and shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2025.

SECTION 4. (a) There is established within the department of human services, a Malama Ohana working group to consider, develop, and recommend transformative changes to the State's existing child welfare system.

(b) The Malama Ohana working group shall consist of the following members:

(1) The executive director of Effective Planning and Innovative Communication, Inc., doing business as EPIC Ohana, or the executive director's designee, who shall serve as a co-chair of the working group;

(2) The chief executive officer of Hale Kipa, Inc., or the chief executive officer's designee, who shall serve as a co-chair of the working group;

(3) Four members of Na Kama a Haloa;

(4) Two members from each of the following constituencies, selected by the board of directors of Epic Ohana, Inc. that operates the Na Kama a Haloa program:

(A) Former foster youth;

(B) Birth parents who were involved in the child welfare system, specifically, with the department of human services' child welfare service branch;

(C) Licensed resource caregivers; and

(D) Kinship resource caregivers;

(5) The director of human services or the director's designee;

(6) Two members representing the child welfare services branch's investigators, case managers, or their assistants, designated by the branch administrator;

(7) The chairperson of the trauma-informed care task force, or the chairperson's designee;

(8) The chief executive officer of the office of Hawaiian affairs, or the chief executive officer's designee;

(9) The chief executive officer of Kamehameha Schools, or the chief executive officer's designee; and

(10) The chief executive officer of Liliuokalani Trust, or the chief executive officer's designee.

(c) The Malama Ohana working group shall develop recommendations to establish a child welfare system that is trauma informed, sustains a community-based partnership, and is responsive to the needs of children and families in the system as well as the community. In carrying out its purpose, the working group shall:

(1) Conduct listening sessions throughout the State and with affected constituencies;

(2) Convene meetings to brainstorm and develop concepts for recommendation;

(3) Develop recommendations on ways to better coordinate and improve the protection and well-being of children and families in the child welfare system;

(4) Identify training, best practices, assessment criteria, and ways to sustain an effective workforce within the department of human services' child welfare services branch;

(5) Identify training, best practices, assessment criteria, and ways to sustain an effective workforce within the community of agencies serving the child welfare system;

(6) Identify best practices, including Native Hawaiian cultural practices, that provide assistance to children and youth who are involved in the child welfare system and their families;

(7) Identify other cultural practices that build wellness and resilience in communities and collaboration between communities and the child welfare services branch; and

(8) Collaborate with the trauma-informed care task force, and where appropriate, conduct joint listening sessions or design sessions for the purpose of reforming the child welfare system.

(d) Members of the Malama Ohana working group shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses necessary for the performance of their duties, including travel expenses. No member of the working group shall be subject to chapter 84, Hawaii Revised Statutes, solely because of the member's participation in the working group.

(e) The department of human services may contract with an administrative facilitator to provide necessary support for the Malama Ohana working group in carrying out its activities, including preparation of the report required pursuant to subsection (f).

(f) The Malama Ohana working group shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2025.

(g) The Malama Ohana working group shall be dissolved on June 30, 2025.

SECTION 5. 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 same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2024-2025 for the procurement of contracted services to provide additional support, resources, and monitoring of families receiving benefits from the State's adoption assistance program for the purposes of assisting with family strengthening and the maintenance of a safe home environment for adopted children.

The sums appropriated shall be expended by the department of human services for the purposes of this Act; provided that:

(1) $           shall be expended for the development and maintenance of necessary information technology systems, including the establishment of       full time equivalent (      FTE) positions;

(2) $           shall be expended to increase compensation to fill vacancies and retain employees in existing child welfare services branch investigator, case manager, and social worker positions; provided that any increase in compensation shall be subject to collective bargaining with the objective of expeditiously filling all vacancies;

(3) $           shall be expended for the department of human services to contract with a third-party for enhanced permanency support services, including additional training for resource caregivers, wellness visits within a year of adoption or guardianship of children formerly in foster care, respite care, and enhanced supportive services to assist with family strengthening and maintenance of a safe home environment for adopted children;

(4) $           shall be expended for the establishment of one full time equivalent (1.0 FTE) planner or project specialist position to administer and monitor additional service contracts and assist with additional service coordination, data collection, and analysis of the new program; and

(5) $           shall be expended for the Malama Ohana working group established within the department of human services pursuant to section 4 of this Act, to contract with an administrative facilitator to provide necessary support for the working group in carrying out its activities.

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect upon its approval; provided that section 5 of this Act shall take effect on July 1, 2023, and section 4 of this Act shall be repealed on June 30, 2025.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Department of Human Services; Foster Care; Adoption; Adoption Assistance Program; Review; Investigation; Malama Ohana Working Group; Post-Permanency Services; Report; Appropriation

 

Description:

Expands the investigative powers of the Department of Human Services to include review and investigation of families that receive benefits from the State's adoption assistance program, against whom a post-adoption complaint has been made. Requires the Department of Human Services to report to the Legislature prior to the convening of the 2025 Regular Session on the impact of expanding post-permanency services to families receiving benefits from the adoption assistance program. Establishes a working group within the Department of Human Services to consider, develop, and recommend transformative changes to the State's existing child welfare system, and report to the Legislature prior to the 2025 Regular Session. Appropriates funds to provide additional support, resources, and monitoring of post-permanency services. Repeals the Malama Ohana Working Group on 6/30/2025.

 

 

 

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