Department of Human Services, East Hawaii, Hawaii(1)
The East Hawaii branch of the Family and Adult Services Division (which includes child protective services) of the Department of Human Services in the state of Hawaii serves the eastern half of the county of Hawaii. Hawaii County covers the island of Hawaii, also known as the Big Island because it is the largest of the state's islands. East Hawaii includes the small city of Hilo (population just under 40,000) as well as outlying rural areas. Though small by national standards, Hilo is the largest city on the Big Island and is the second largest city in the state next to Honolulu (which is located on the island of Oahu).
The residents of Hawaii County include a diverse and complex mix of ethnicities, races, and cultures. Seventy percent of the population of Hilo is Asian or Pacific Islander, 27 percent is white, and 8 percent is Hispanic. The county at large has a higher proportion of whites (40 percent) and lower proportion of Asian and Pacific Islanders (57 percent). In addition to the Native Hawaiians, who have been on the islands for many centuries, the Asian and Pacific Islander population includes many cultures such as Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Samoan. Native Hawaiians are disproportionately poor relative to the rest of the population. Many of the whites have migrated to the island from the mainland United States and settled in the rural areas on the southeast side of the island near the town of Pahoa. In this area, developers are subdividing large tracts of land and selling plots that often lack running water and electricity. Residents of these subdivisions are both poor and middle income, and their homes range from makeshift shacks to large houses. The dirt roads and lack of addresses greatly complicate the work of the Child Protection Services, police, the courts, and other service providers in the community. Reaching them for home visits can be very difficult and making contact by mail or telephone impossible.
The County of Hawaii bears a disproportionately high share of the social, health, and mental health problems in the state. The county has the highest rate of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect and the highest rate of births to mothers age 15 to 17. In 1993, 40 percent of the 2,118 births in the county were nonmarital, the highest rate in the state. The county also has the lowest per capita income ($13,169) and the highest rate of unemployment (4.6 percent).(2) In 1995, the number of temporary restraining orders against perpetrators of domestic violence was up 5 percent from 1994, and is almost three times the rate found on the island of Oahu. Total cases in family court were up 8 percent from 1994.
Increasing levels of distress in the community are coinciding with severe cuts in state funding. The number of confirmed abuse and neglect cases increased by 20 percent in the past year, while the same number of workers have fewer service providers to call upon. Most of the community's social service agencies, including private providers, enjoy good relations and open communication, but all agencies and organizations are constrained and many are overwhelmed by the workload in relation to state budget cuts. The county has lost over $3 million in human service contracts in the last year alone.
Brief Overview of Child Welfare Services
The child protective services (CPS) system in Hawaii is administered by the state office in Oahu. The island of Hawaii is broken into two service districts, East Hawaii and West Hawaii. While West Hawaii has several subunits, all of East Hawaii is run out of Hilo. The East Hawaii CPS includes one intake and investigation unit, two case management units, and one foster care and licensing unit. The East Intake/Crisis/Investigative (EICI) unit has one supervisor, five investigators, one intake worker, and two case aides. The case management units each contain one supervisor, six case managers, and three or four case aides.
In 1995, EICI received 1,053 calls and investigated 515 of the reports. Of
the 402 cases confirmed as abuse or neglect, EICI registered 188 as new cases,
reopened 139 closed cases with new intake information, and added intake
information to 74 existing open cases. Hawaii state law allows CPS to take
protective custody if a child is being physically or psychologically harmed
due to abuse or neglect, or is at risk of such injury. While each branch
has free rein to accept cases at all levels of risk within this framework,
due to increasing reports and caseloads the East Hawaii unit is unable to
serve those who are at the less severe end of the spectrum. It was suggested
that growing caseloads are due to both an increased awareness of the issue
of child abuse and neglect and more stringent reporting laws, as well as
an increase in the use of crystal methamphetamine and a resurgence in the
use of heroin. One worker stated that several years ago, the unit would receive
a report of only one baby per month who was born with drugs in its system.
Now they investigate an average of one per week. The use of crystal
methamphetamine is particularly problematic for CPS because its users become
tense and often violent when they come down. In general, the severity of
injury and abuse has been increasing among the families CPS serves. Finally,
CPS workers in East Hawaii cover a large geographical area, including many
rural communities. Investigators drive a minimum of 30 or 40 miles a day,
and 100 miles in a day is not uncommon.
At least 95 percent of cases that are transferred into the case management
unit are under the jurisdiction of the court and fall into either Family
Supervision, where children remain in the home, or Foster Custody. Families
in both types of cases are required to follow a service plan. Case managers
carry caseloads of approximately 22 families each. Of these, the supervisor
believed that, on average, five families had domestic violence as their primary
reason for referral, and another five as their secondary issue.
Child Welfare Agency Approach to Domestic Violence
The primary linkage between child protection services and domestic violence
exists through the criminal justice system. Child welfare workers have access
to the criminal histories of the perpetrators of abuse and to a list of all
active temporary restraining orders (TROs). The family court judge oversees
child abuse and neglect cases as well as petitions for TROs. The judge has
access to all former and current criminal and civil family court case records
involving the perpetrator and other family members. The judge actively questions
TRO petitioners about the well-being and whereabouts of their children, and
if the children appear to be (or have been) in danger, he refers the case
to CPS. CPS workers often attend the afternoon TRO hearings to report back
to the judge regarding cases he has referred to them. CPS often assumes cases
referred to it by the judge, suggesting that he screens them well.
Judges in Hawaii are able to combine all family cases into one family court.
In Maui, for example, all family cases--including criminal and civil cases,
divorce proceedings, child protection, and juvenile justice--are seen in
the same court. In East Hawaii, all family cases other than criminal cases
are seen by the family court.(3) One full-time
judge oversees the family court with the help of one part-time judge. When
the full-time judge was appointed in 1989, he created a third family court
in the state and appropriated all divorce, temporary restraining orders,
juvenile justice, and child protection cases. All civil and criminal non-familial
cases and criminal family cases are seen in the district court. Only a small
portion of family cases involve criminal proceedings including sex abuse,
physical abuse, and domestic violence. The judge would like to include criminal
family cases but is unable to do so because of his caseload. If the family
court expands to two full-time judges as expected in the future, the court
will begin to hear the criminal cases as well.
The family court judge routinely tries to gather as much information as possible
about the families he will see in court. His staff check the court files
and pull up all cases in which the perpetrator and/or family have been involved.
When a family is active in several different types of judicial proceedings
within his court, the judge may hold the hearings back to back (or
simultaneously); this is not only convenient for the parties involved, but
allows for maximum consistency in rulings. Since many probation office staff
are housed in the same building as the family court, and CPS staff familiar
with the family are often at court for other cases, the judge calls on these
individuals during hearings. This system allows for more flexibility and
ensures that families will receive a consistent message with coordinated
orders. While all of the judges have easy access to all case records involving
a particular party, only the family court judge routinely reviews the former
cases of a particular family or perpetrator. This judge considers himself
to be making very critical decisions in these families' lives, and therefore
acknowledges a need for as much information as possible.
The family court judge reviews all petitions for TROs on Tuesday mornings.
The application that a victim must complete in order to petition for a TRO
includes questions pertaining to any threat or actions taken to harm her
children. A TRO can also be requested on behalf of a child. The judge reviews
the application and questions both parties in court about the existence of
children, their whereabouts during the particular incident, and their general
safety. Because the judge is aware of the overload of cases within CPS, he
acts as a screener to determine the level of safety of the children. In 1995,
he referred just over 6 percent of his TRO cases to CPS. Generally, the judge
refers to CPS only those cases where a child has been hurt or is at serious
risk of harm by his/her parents' fighting, or if the child is very young,
has been active to CPS previously, or has been exposed to continual domestic
abuse. If a child appears to be in danger, he requires that CPS staff submit
a report or appear in court at the TRO follow-up hearing to recommend whether
the court should obtain jurisdiction over the child. These return hearings
on civil protection orders, which are held regardless of CPS involvement,
are essential to obtain the perpetrator's cooperation. Any violations of
TROs, however, are sent to the district court.
When the intake/investigative unit receives an allegation of child abuse,
through the judge's TRO calendar or any other source, the investigator accesses
the criminal history (reflecting both arrests and convictions) of the alleged
perpetrator through the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center. In 1995, EICI
requested criminal histories on all new cases accepted into the unit--roughly
half of all intakes that were investigated. This compares with an overall
state rate of request for criminal histories of 17 percent of all investigations.
One worker thought that almost half of her cases involved at least one parent
with a criminal record. The criminal history provides a picture of the family
environment--how often the perpetrator has been in prison and for how long,
whether a perpetrator has been violent in the past and to whom, whether the
violence is escalating or shows other patterns, whether drugs are a major
problem in the household, and whether the perpetrator is on probation. In
addition, a list of the names of both petitioners and respondents for every
active TRO is reviewed. If a TRO exists, the intake worker notes the presence
of the TRO (and the court case number) on the file, and the investigation
worker assigned to the case later accesses police reports and court records
related to the TRO.
The intake desk also checks the state CPS system to find out about previous
state involvement with the family, and checks the Hawaii Automated Inquiry
System to determine whether a family receives AFDC. The state CPS data system
allows the EICI unit to input the name of the perpetrator to find out whether
he (or she) has been involved in CPS cases with other families. When a child
abuse report is made, the intake worker checks the names of all persons involved
in the case.
CPS investigation workers are given much freedom in how they carry out their
initial visit. How they address domestic violence, therefore, varies across
workers. At least one worker always spoke with the children separately in
order to gain a broader picture. Whether she spoke with the mother separately
from the father depended on the situation. If the perpetrator remained in
the home and there was concern for the child's safety, the child would be
removed. The workers considered witnessing domestic violence a serious issue
and very harmful for the children involved. However, investigators lacked
specialized protocols or procedures for routinely screening for abuse between
The CPS workers we spoke with were aware of and concerned about domestic
violence as an issue that needed to be addressed in order to ensure the safety
of the child. However, it was not clear how well that translated into also
making the safety of the mother a priority. In part, this translation was
hampered by a lack of tools to use in aiding mothers directly, and a lack
of broader community services for CPS workers to draw upon. If the domestic
violence was so severe as to place the children in danger, the workers explicitly
informed the mother that if she did not leave the batterer, she risked losing
her children. One client with whom we spoke stated that the choice between
her partner and her children was given to her and that CPS supported and
encouraged her to choose her children. The intake supervisor acknowledged
that the obligation to protect the mother was not as great once the children
had been removed. If it is safe for the children to remain in the home, however,
they monitor the situation. They noted that the mother does not leave her
partner (or even if she leaves, she returns or enters into another equally
unhealthy relationship) at least 80 percent of the time.
The case managers have devised ways to help mothers leave their batterers
by identifying a safe haven, making contingency plans, developing self-esteem,
breaking dependency, and getting the mother into school. Case managers also
draw upon what is usually a large extended maternal family as a resource
to help support a victim of domestic violence.
The case managers were very concerned about the lack of services in the community
to serve both perpetrators and (child and adult) victims of domestic violence.
Alternatives to Violence was, until recently, the only program offering treatment
services. Another program had recently been established, but had not yet
developed many links with CPS. Unfortunately, there are few private therapists
experienced in the issues of domestic violence to draw upon. An additional
problem is that many of the psychologists who do work on the island are very
reluctant to accept CPS clients because Medicaid reimbursement rates are
Some native Hawaiian families request a form of traditional Hawaiian therapy
known as Ho'oponopono ("to make things right"). While CPS allows families
to receive Ho'oponopono, supervisors also include Alternatives to Violence
in the service plan because they do not feel that Ho'oponopono alone successfully
addresses abuse issues. Several service providers explained that Ho'oponopono
was an acceptable supplement to--not substitute for--standard treatment
approaches. Ho'oponopono involves working with the entire family together,
which is often not appropriate for families affected by domestic violence.
Domestic violence is only one of many issues confronting case managers and
families. Many parents must cope with substance abuse problems. Approximately
80 to 90 percent of CPS cases involve drugs, especially crack cocaine or
crystal methamphetamine. Substance abuse problems also contribute to many
control issues over money. Addicted fathers often beat a child's mother in
an effort to get her welfare money. Some case managers said they tried to
work through the substance abuse issue prior to resolving the domestic violence.
In the past two years, the Department of Human Services in Oahu sponsored
two day-long domestic violence training sessions for their East Hawaii Branch
staff. This training was mandatory for all line workers but not their
supervisors, though several attended. Each of the two training sessions was
delivered by an Oahu-based organization--one by the Family Peace Center and
the other by the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse. A third domestic violence
training (sponsored by Hilo's Domestic Violence Interagency Taskforce) was
held in spring 1996. All Intake Unit staff and several case workers from
other units attended the day-long session devoted to coordinated community
efforts to prevent family and domestic violence. One supervisor explained
that it was expected that workers would approach their work differently as
a result of these training sessions, but she was unsure that they actually
did. She also noted that no agency-wide policy changes grew out of these
A primary benefit of the link between CPS and the justice system is that
decisions about families made by CPS workers and the judge are based on greater
knowledge about the family's situation. Furthermore, the greater the
communication between the various agencies and players, the more difficult
it is for the perpetrator to manipulate the system. It is also hoped that
families with children at risk or harmed because of domestic violence are
being seen by CPS earlier and/or more often because the judge questions parents
about children during the TRO hearings. The primary disadvantage of this
approach is that it has not been able to foster the development of adequate
treatment and follow-up services, a key part of helping families and children
once they have been identified.
Perspectives of Other Community Service Agencies and Organizations
Hilo has an ongoing and active Domestic Violence Interagency Taskforce (DVIAT)
that has been meeting every month or so since 1994. Prior to this most recent
effort, other interagency groups met on and off over the preceding decade.
The ongoing work of these groups has allowed for open communication lines
and positive relations to be built within the domestic violence community.
The taskforce includes Child Protection Services, Alternatives to Violence
(see below), the crisis shelter, the prosecutor's office, law enforcement,
adult probation, the Children's Advocacy Center, family court, district court,
the local medical center, and private therapists. Most recently, the taskforce
has focused on legal procedures, education and public awareness, and prevention
Overall, the community displayed a widespread desire to cooperate and work
together to help children affected by domestic violence. Unfortunately,
services--particularly for children--are extremely limited. For example,
there are no support groups for children who have witnessed domestic violence.
Also, the Department of Education, the Department of Health, and the medical
community are noticeably absent from community coordination efforts. Nonetheless,
it appeared that at the individual level of service delivery, some cooperation
with these agencies did occur.
Alternatives to Violence
Alternatives to Violence (ATV) is the main program providing batterer
intervention services and support groups for battered women. ATV also provides
women applying for a restraining order with an advocate to help them through
the application and court process. Over the last two years, ATV has changed
directorship and is recovering from a recent period of mismanagement. It
lost many of its resources but is slowly building them back up. Within the
last six months, ATV started a new batterer intervention program but it is
not well-known or widely used by CPS workers or others with whom we spoke.
Approximately 95 percent of the participants in ATV's batterer intervention
program were court mandated. The counselors let the prosecutors, CPS, and
probation know when a client misses several weeks in a row. As part of its
program, ATV conducts a monthly check with the female partner to ensure that
she is safe and to determine whether her partner is continuing threats or
violence or has begun to change his attitude and behavior. If he has acted
out, the counselor raises this within group session (directly if the woman
believes it is safe or indirectly through role playing). If a violation of
a TRO has occurred, ATV staff encourage her to report it. If it is apparent
that children are in danger, the ATV workers, being mandated reporters, will
encourage the woman to self-report to CPS and will do so themselves if she
Over half of the women in the domestic violence support groups are court
mandated, primarily through family court. ATV has mixed feelings about this
policy--they feel it revictimizes women, but understand that some of them
need to be compelled into treatment and that often abusive men may not allow
their partners to attend unless it is required. For those families active
with CPS, the frequency of communication between ATV and CPS depends a great
deal on the particular CPS worker.
ATV feels that it has a positive relationship with CPS that is stronger now
that CPS staff are taking domestic violence more seriously. Women were often
blamed, regardless of the existence of spousal abuse, prior to the increase
in education and awareness among child welfare workers. However, ATV disagrees
with CPS about the extent to which their goal should be keeping the family
together. While ATV has not trained CPS workers, it has conducted in-service
training for a private family support service agency that serves CPS families.
The Hale 'Ohana Crisis Shelter has only been open since July 1995. The shelter
is supported by the same government contract that for many years supported
ATV's Family Crisis Shelter (ATV continues to run a shelter by the same name
in West Hawaii). Within its first week of operation, the shelter's budget
was cut by 30 percent and the shelter was immediately forced to let go of
its domestic violence advocate, child behavior specialist, and volunteer
recruitment coordinator. The shelter director believes that recent budget
cuts have brought the community to a very critical point in its history,
but the cuts have also caused community members to draw closer together.
The shelter works with CPS when they have a family in common. The relationship
between the two is good, and many years earlier the shelter director worked
as a case manager for CPS. She felt that CPS was doing what it could with
limited staff, but that identifying domestic violence at earlier stages in
their cases would be worthwhile.
Children's Advocacy Center
In 1986 the Hawaii State Legislature provided operating funds to establish
the first Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) under the state judiciary. In
1989 funding was provided to establish similar centers statewide, and the
East Hawaii CAC opened in November 1990. The CAC focuses on the needs of
children who have been severely abused. In East Hawaii, the CAC spearheaded
a widespread community effort to respond more effectively and sensitively
to children who have been sexually abused. The center provides a child-friendly
space for police and CPS staff to conduct joint, videotaped interviews so
that child victims and witnesses do not have to be interrogated multiple
times unnecessarily. The CAC coordinator also sets up multidisciplinary
coordination meetings for children and families involved in both civil and
criminal court proceedings.
The center is available for cases other than sexual abuse, and has begun
to reach out more aggressively for physical abuse cases. The CAC coordinator
is also an active member of the Domestic Violence Interagency Taskforce.
While not actively involved with serving children primarily affected by domestic
violence, the CAC director was certainly open to becoming more involved.
CACs across the state had recently surveyed private providers to gather
information about their areas of expertise (including domestic violence).
Although the survey results were originally intended for distribution among
the judiciary alone, the CAC director was very enthusiastic about sharing
the information with CPS and others.
The Prosecutor's Office primarily coordinates with CPS on cases that involve
severe physical or sexual abuse of a child. The staff we spoke with did not
feel that many of their domestic violence cases involved CPS, but it was
unclear whether they knew a family was active with CPS unless the child was
the victim in the prosecution's case. However, they believed that it was
always better to see the bigger picture, and that CPS might provide useful
information even in domestic violence cases.
The Prosecutor's Office has a domestic violence interagency liaison who chairs
the DVIAT meetings and who promotes training in all agencies by organizing
and sharing information on training opportunities. For example, when Family
Peace Center training staff came to the Big Island last year, the liaison
managed to have them stay an extra day to provide training to additional
community agencies such as CPS.
The East Hawaii police department does not have a separate domestic violence
unit, although it has applied for funds to support this. One officer has
received specialized training in domestic violence in order to train other
members of the Hilo police department. New classes of recruits receive 16
hours of domestic violence training, and all officers receive about 4 hours
a year of in-service training. The training is not mandatory for supervisors
Currently, the police operate under a pro-arrest policy, and the relevant
state statute supports arrest if there are "reasonable grounds" for domestic
violence--a standard of proof lower than "probable cause." Patrol officers
responding to domestic violence calls do not focus on children, although
they are supposed to check on their welfare and have been trained to do so.
It was unclear to what degree officers actually do this. The police department
is applying for a grant that would allow it to hire an in-house community
service coordinator to respond to domestic violence calls and make appropriate
referrals for the family.
The police department's juvenile aid section works closely with CPS on cases
involving severe physical or sexual abuse of a child. The police detective
conducts a joint investigation with CPS in order to respond to the situation
faster, simplify the investigation, obtain better physical evidence, and
lessen the trauma for child victims by reducing duplication. There did not
seem to be an awareness on the part of the police department about whether
any or many cases of physical or sexual abuse also involved domestic
The Adult and Juvenile Probation Office sits in the same building as the
family court. Different probation officers oversee offenders from family
court, from district court for misdemeanors, and from district court for
felony cases. A particular probationer may have several different probation
officers, just as he or she may be involved in several different court cases.
Because the probation officers sit together, they can share information about
the offenders and pool resources. It is up to the probation officer to notify
a judge if he or she is aware of conflicting orders in a different court
While most domestic violence cases should be handled in criminal family court,
a large proportion of cases are plea bargained and switched to third degree
assault to avoid a 48-hour mandatory jail term. This causes the case to be
switched from criminal family court to district court. The district and family
court criminal judges rarely ask about the children or CPS involvement. However,
a judge can call for a pre-sentencing report for any felony, and does so
for about half of domestic abuse cases. The pre-sentencing report contains
information on the offender's social history, criminal record, prior offenses,
defendant statement, police report, victim impact statement, medical,
psychiatric, education and employment history, and current family composition
and situation, including CPS involvement. Only if the judge requests this
report will he learn information regarding other existing court orders or
services pertaining to the family.
Again, the primary overlap with CPS appears to be for sex offenders. The
probation officer who handles the majority of adult domestic violence cases
for family court knew of only 6 cases (out of a caseload of 150) that were
active within CPS. This probation officer primarily found out about CPS
involvement because the family court judge pulled up the perpetrator's legal
files and found that he was on probation. The judge then called the probation
officer into court to try to work the service plan around probation's terms
and conditions. This probation officer did not know whether a higher share
of his cases actually overlapped with CPS. Probation officers were generally
willing to monitor the CPS service plan as part of probation, once they were
aware of the conditions and terms. There was little integration between the
two agencies, however, largely because the majority of domestic violence
offenses were convicted as misdemeanors and their probation officers cannot
pay for any services. Only felony probation officers had funds to pay for
services. Therefore, CPS feared that probation might piggyback on their service
provision without providing much in return (including enforcement).
Incarceration--a probation officer's principal stick--is rarely used for
violations because of prison overcrowding.
Outcome and Evaluation Issues
The state-wide data system for CPS cases appeared to be quite comprehensive.
CPS staff are readily able to track perpetrators across cases (in fact, they
can access the CPS history of any family member). In theory, therefore, they
are also able to track the subsequent CPS involvement of offenders who
participated in various intervention services.
Although the CPS data system appears to be quite sophisticated, it does not
electronically interface with any other program information systems (e.g.,
criminal history records or judicial record systems). Cross checks and overlaps
with these other systems are done manually.
In general, Hilo is a community rich in commitment to domestic violence issues
generally and to linking these to child welfare services, but poor in resources.
Hilo has an active community-wide interagency domestic violence team, and
awareness around domestic violence issues appears to be quite high. Among
the community's biggest strengths is the willingness of various agencies
to communicate and find new ways to collaborate. Like other small towns and
rural communities, much of this communication derives from the smallness
of the community and the ability of individuals to bridge bureaucratic distances
through personal relationships and friendships. East Hawaii's CPS agency
enjoys fairly good relationships with other agencies and organizations in
the community, including the main battered women's services program. But
the main linkage that strengthens this agency's ability to identify and serve
families affected by domestic violence is its relationship with the judiciary.
Having a unified family court system can be a key feature in effectively
serving families involved with violence and abuse. Within such a court system,
all cases involving the members of a single family (protective orders, divorce
and custody issues, criminal offenses, juvenile justice issues) are heard
within the same court, strongly reducing the chances of the family facing
conflicting orders that may jeopardize the safety of some of its members.
The family court's caseload and staffing in East Hawaii require that all
criminal family cases be deflected to a different court, so their court system
is only semi-unified. This limited degree of unification may be a more realistic
model for communities considering unifying family court cases.
One issue reflecting Hilo's experience is that while willingness on the part
of CPS to acquire new knowledge and approaches for handling cases affected
by domestic violence is very important, it is not sufficient to produce real
change in standard case practice. CPS workers and their supervisors must
have very specific tools and training around domestic violence in order to
go about their work in new and creative ways. Effectively serving these families,
however, requires the effort of many services and agencies beyond CPS. Treatment
services in the community at large, especially for CPS children exposed to
domestic violence, are very limited in Hilo. One interesting question is
whether or not CPS should devote limited resources to identifying families
affected by domestic violence in its caseload, if the treatment resources
needed to help these families are so limited. Documenting need is certainly
one important reason to do so. Better screening of domestic violence may
also lead to cost savings in the long-run, if root problems are better addressed
and recidivism reduced. This, in turn, may free funds up for more services.
Like Hilo, many communities across the country are experiencing severe budget cuts. Options for better serving CPS families affected by domestic violence should include some relatively low-cost choices. These might include soliciting a volunteer domestic violence expert to keep regularly scheduled hours at the local CPS office for case consultations. In communities with few private therapists able to treat children affected by domestic violence, CPS might want to encourage these professionals to offer group rather than individual sessions. Of course, sharing training and planning activities with other service providers in the community, as Hilo is doing, is also very important.
In summary, Hilo offers a number of interesting system features that other communities might want to consider: having a committed and knowledgeable judge regularly refer appropriate TRO cases to CPS; unifying some family cases within the same court; and encouraging multiple agencies and community service providers to coordinate training efforts and otherwise share limited resources. Furthermore, in addition to conducting a standard criminal history check on all incoming referrals, CPS's EICI unit cross-checks all adults in the household against a current list of active temporary restraining orders.
1. This site visit was conducted in March 1996.
2. Mental Health Association in Hawaii, Hawaii County Branch, "Survey of Social Indicators," January 1996; and Decennial Census of the United States, 1990.
3. For example, a child abuse case involving a family member (or non-family member who has access to the child in the family home, such as a boyfriend) would be seen in the family court and could also be seen in the criminal court if the case involved criminal prosecution for physical or sexual abuse. Domestic violence between a woman and her partner could be addressed in the family court if a TRO is requested or if divorce or custodial issues of children arise, as well as criminal court if the TRO is broken or if the case is prosecuted. Depending on the level of abuse, the criminal case may be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony, but both are heard by one of two judges in the district court.
4. Some community agency and CPS contacts questioned whether the police (especially older officers) were committed to addressing domestic violence. Not enforcing TROs was a major problem: within the last year a woman who had a TRO was killed even though she called the police twice--once the day before and once an hour before her death--to report violations.
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Human Services Policy (HSP)
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)