Pictured from L-R:  Keiko Nitta, Faye Kimura, The Honorable Paul Murakami, Kayle Perez, Gordean Akiona.
Photo credit: Frank Brown

Hawaii Zero to Three Court, Honolulu, Hawaii

Geographic/Demographic Reach: The City and County of Honolulu. In Honolulu, there are approximately 64,904 under age five. Among children younger than three, 194 are in foster care. Statewide, there are 371 children under age three in foster care.

Court Team Members:

  • Senior Family Court Judge, Hawaii First Judicial Circuit
  • Lead Hawaii Zero to Three (HZTT) Judge and Primary Backup Judge
  • Deputy Chief Court Administrator, Family Court
  • Social Services Administrator, Family Court
  • Court Improvement Program Coordinators
  • HZTT Case Manager
  • Deputy Attorneys General and their Supervisor
  • Family Drug Court Program Manager and social workers
  • Psychology interns and their clinical supervisor
  • Child Welfare Services social workers, section administrators, Program Development Administrator, Branch Administrator
  • Guardians ad litem and Contract Supervisor
  • Parents’ Counsel
  • Court Office Supervisor, Family Court 
  • School of Law Fellows and their Supervisor
  • Head Start Director
  • Center on Disability Studies (University of Hawaii) professor and specialist
  • Chief, Children with Special Health Needs Branch, Department of Health
  • Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Coordinator, Department of Health
  • Branch Chief, Public Health Nurse, Department of Health
  • Action Strategies Coordinator, Office of the Governor
  • Program Officer and Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC) Trainer, Consuelo Foundation

Key Barriers to Address: Substance abuse (including alcohol) by parents; inadequate understanding of how to use Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) to help our children; inadequate frequency of developmentally-appropriate parent-child visits; limited access to child-parent psychotherapy (CPP) to address trauma and heal relationships; better access to community resources.

Resources Available for Parents and Children: ABC and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT); monthly parent workshops on day of court hearings; PsyD interns supervised by clinical psychologist to quickly conduct screenings and evaluations of parents and children; collaborations with the University of Hawaii School of Law and School of Social Work (planned for fall 2015); residential substance abuse program for mothers and children (Women’s Way); access to resources through Friends of Family Court Specialty Court.

Promising Practices: The collaboration with University of Hawaii School of Law has provided the organizational and technical support to sustain the project since its inception. The School has produced the program brochure, procedural guidelines, facilitated and memorialized actions taken at court team meetings and retreats, gathered data, and assisted in writing annual and ad hoc reports. The monthly parent workshops held on the day of court hearings is another project highlight, which has been described in ZERO TO THREE literature.

Desired Practice Change: Accurate and timely data collection, more consistent use of EPSDT assessments and resources, enhanced visitation for children in terms of frequency and quality of visits, better understanding of and utilization of community resources, consistent screening for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and referral to resources that are demonstrated to make a positive difference.

Public Events: Kick-Off Event (June 30), “ZTT and the Military in Hawaii” (August 10), “Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Vulnerable Child: A Lifespan Perspective” (August 14)