Department of Human Services’ Legislative Package

Posted on Feb 23, 2016 in NEWS

DHS is building a healthy Hawai‘i through a multi-generational, collaborative approach.  We begin 2016 by focusing our legislative efforts through four priorities:

  • Invest in children and families;
  • Improve health and safety issues;
  • Increase department capacity and efficiencies; and
  • Improve systems.

These priorities align with the Governor’s priorities for a more effective, efficient, and open government, improved safety, health, education, and housing.  They also value links between social capital, health and well-being, economic supports, education, and training.  We do this with a multi-generational lens that views the person as an integral part of larger families and communities.  Below you will find some of the ways we are working with the State Legislature to improve our department and services and better serve all of Hawai‘i.

The Department’s success depends on the success of the residents we serve.  We use a whole-family, multi-generational approach to invest early and concurrently in children and families to improve health outcomes.  Our 2016 administrative legislative bill package addresses the way we care for Hawai‘i’s children through support of early involvement in case decision-making, access to extracurricular activities and higher education for former foster youth, and support of licensed child care facilities and resource caregivers.  The proposed legislation is coupled with budget requests that look for a financial investment in the whole family.  Below are the highlights of our efforts to invest in children and families.

Child Care and Learning

  • Background Checks for Child Care Providers: Keeps Hawai‘i’s children safer and healthier through background checks for licensed and registered child care homes and facilities, as well as license-exempt child care providers which will bring the State into compliance with recent changes to federal law. SB2872 / HB2343
  • R.E.A.C.H. (Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture and Health): Supports the R.E.A.C.H. initiative to provide an organizational framework for after-school programs for students in grades 6 through 8 across the state with a $250,000 budget request. HMS 501

Foster Families and Former Foster Youth

  • Former Foster Youth and Education: Extends the age former foster youth may apply for higher education assistance and clarifies who is eligible for that assistance. SB2878 / HB2349
  • Resource Caregivers and Foster Youth: Brings Hawai‘i into compliance with recent changes to federal law by updating language and lowering the age of foster youths’ involvement in their foster care plans; provides qualified immunity for resource caregivers (foster parents) to empower them to make reasonable and prudent parenting decisions to allow children in their care to participate in age and developmentally appropriate activities that support a child’s social and emotional development. SB2879 / HB2350

Health & Screening

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders: Continues funding for screening of autism spectrum disorders in children ages 0 to 6.  This $10.6 million request continues work begun in FY 2016. HMS 401


  • Kaka‘ako Shelter: Establishes a family assessment center in Kaka‘ako to serve families who need temporary housing with a $900,000 budget request. HMS 224

Going hand-in-hand with investing in children and families is the Department’s commitment to improving health and safety for Hawai‘i’s most vulnerable residents.  DHS believes that the success of Hawai‘i’s residents requires we also invest in their health and well-being as a whole person.  The below efforts highlight the ways we are working with the legislature to improve health and safety for Hawai‘i’s children and families through both administrative legislation and budget requests.

Children’s Safety

  • Criminal History Checks in Child Welfare Services (CWS) Cases: Allows CWS to better assess safety risks and develop service plans for children and its staff by allowing DHS access to criminal history records of individuals identified as perpetrators and of adults identified as household members. SB2869 / HB2340

Access to Health Coverage and Benefits

  • Ticket to Work: Provides a path for individuals living with disabilities – who would be ineligible for Medicaid because of earned income – to access services and supports so they do not have to choose between healthcare and work.  This budget request for $293,405 will be matched with $344,155 federal dollars. HMS 401
  • Health Insurance Exchange & the ACA: Transitions the State’s health insurance marketplace from a non-profit organization to a state-based marketplace using the federal platform.  To fund the transition and the state’s continued compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act, the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) and DHS request emergency and on-going appropriations to cover operating costs to ensure access to affordable health insurance coverage. SB2894 / HB2365 & SB2898 / HB2369
  • Sovaldi Treatment: Continues access to Sovaldi for treatment and cure of hepatitis C.  This budget request of $8 million will be matched with $9.38 million in federal funds. HMS 401
  • Expand Premium Assistance Program: Expands the Premium Assistance Program to include all individuals and families who are at 138% of the federal poverty level or below.  The Premium Assistance Program provides assistance with health plan premiums of non-disabled Hawai‘i residents from the nations under the Compact of Free Association and lawful permanent residents who have been in the U.S. fewer than 5 years.  Previously the Premium Assistance Program only provided assistance to those individuals up to 100% of the federal poverty line.  This request is for $900,000. HMS 401
  • Preventive Adult Dental Benefits: Restores benefits for adult dental care to include each client’s whole health in providing access to healthcare.  We can restore benefits with $4.8 million matched with $7.66 million in federal funds. HMS 401
  • Hospital Sustainability and Nursing Facility Sustainability Programs: Extends the Hospital Sustainability and Nursing Facility Sustainability programs for another year to leverage federal funds for Hawai‘i’s hospitals and nursing facilities.  The intent of these bills have been incorporated into SB2213 and HB2342 and SB2330 and HB1941.


  • Homeless Outreach: Supports and expands existing homeless outreach efforts with a $2 million budget request.  Outreach services to individual and families is a key area that requires additional resources to support the transition to stable permanent housing. HMS 224
  • Housing First: Expands Housing First to neighbor islands with a $3 million budget request.  Housing First is an evidence-based practice that provides housing subsidies and on-going support to maintain individuals and families with the highest needs in stable housing.  This additional investment would allow approximately 162 individuals and families to be served. HMS 224
  • Rapid Re-Housing: Continues to invest in a nationally recognized best practice with a $2 million budget request.  Rapid Re-Housing is the rapid return to housing of a homeless family as soon as possible after they become homeless. HMS 224

DHS has the largest operating budget of any state department—approximately $3.1 billion—has the fifth largest staff of any state department, and serves one in four Hawai‘i residents.  Our 2016 administrative legislative package and budget requests allow DHS to empower its team to better serve Hawai‘i.  Whether in the information technology area, at programmatic levels – for the Social Services or Med-QUEST Divisions – or at the leadership level, these bills and requests will allow us to work more efficiently and effectively for our clients.

Care for elders

  • Adult Protective & Community Services Branch (APCSB) Orders for Immediate Protection: Clarifies that DHS may seek an order of immediate protection for elderly and vulnerable when it deems necessary, allowing the APCSB to support a vulnerable adult’s and families’ ability to care for the adult, and employ all of its resources to assist rather than requiring the Family Court’s intervention in every case. SB2873 / HB2344

Improved Administrative Capacity

  • Exempt Positions in DHS and Med-QUEST:
    • Restores the second deputy position, adds a private secretary, Community/Project Development Director and Policy Director in the Director’s Office to better serve one of the state’s largest departments (by operating budget, federal funding, and staff);
    • Also allows temporary exemption from the Civil Service Law for six positions that will allow the Med-QUEST Division to compete in recruiting, hiring, and retaining the best possible individuals to continue to provide quality health care coverage to Hawai‘i’s eligible residents.

SB2877 / HB2348

  • Appeals Office Position: Adds an employee to the Administrative Appeals Office with a $25,000 budget request that would draw down $12,000 in federal funds.  An additional employee will significantly improve the Administrative Appeals Office’s ability to comply with federal and state administrative law processes and either 1) timely restore eligible benefits to individuals or 2) timely terminate benefits when individuals are no longer eligible to receive them. HMS 904
  • MedQUEST Staff Training: Invests in our staff for business process re-engineering that will leads to more program efficiency.  This $375,000 budget request will come with a 100% federal match of $375,000. HMS 902
  • Social Services Division Positions: Transfers 16 Child Welfare Services positions to general support for the Social Services Division.  These positions will help build administrative capacity. This request comes at no additional cost. HMS 901
  • Masters in Social Work Collaboration: Restores the Hawai‘i Child Welfare Education Collaboration between DHS and the University of Hawai‘i, Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work to recruit and train child welfare social workers.  In the 10 previous years the program was in place – from 1998 to 2008 – 100 students completed the program.  This is a $331,000 request for state funds which will be matched by $110,000 federal dollars.  Masters of Social Work students accepted into this program would agree to serve in Child Welfare Services for at least three years.  The program assists with recruitment and retention of the best-trained social workers to work with Hawai‘i’s vulnerable children and their families.  HMS 301

Information Technology Systems

  • DHS Enterprise System M&O: Continues the maintenance and operation of the DHS Enterprise System, including maintaining the connection to the federally facilitated marketplace that allows for transfers of information between the federal government and DHS.  This specific request for $5.9 million comes with a $17.2 million federal match. HMS 902
  • Design, Development & Implementation: Provides funding for the transition to a new vendor for the DHS Enterprise System.  This $500,000 request will draw down $4.5 million in federal funding. HMS 902

The fourth priority encompasses the first three.  In prioritizing the safety and well-being of Hawai‘i’s children and families and increasing department capacity, DHS is investing in our overall systems. These systems will ultimately serve our workers and clients.  Below are some examples of legislative bills and budget requests devoted to improving systems, but many of the above bills will also improve the way DHS’ systems work for our residents.

Health IT Systems

  • Health Information Exchange: Supports the continued activities of the Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange.  This work will provide for more efficient and effective exchange of information between the system, plans, and providers.  The budget request of $100,000 will draw down $900,000 of federal monies. HMS 902


  • Funding for Governor’s Homelessness Special Project: Establishes three temporary positions and fully funds an existing administrative assistant for the Office of the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness.  The program staff will support the purpose of this project by building relationships and creating partnerships between government agencies, private industries, non-profit organizations, and communities.  The program will also provide support for the Hawai‘i Interagency Council on Homelessness. This request is for $235,000.