Sunday, April 16, 2023

Hawaii family police agency sinks to misrepresentation and blackmail - and that’s just how they treat the State Legislature!

The Hawaii State Capitol

As regular readers of this blog know, many states are swiping money from foster children to reimburse themselves for giving those youth the “privilege” of living in foster care.  It happens to foster youth who are entitled to Social Security Disability or Survivor benefits. 

It might be legal – though even that is a gray area.  But in every other respect it’s simply stealing money from some of those who need it most. 

As a result of reporting by NPR and The Marshall Project, some states have stopped or at least curbed the practice.  But not Hawaii. 

In Hawaii, lawmakers could have passed a law banning the process – that is, after all, why they’re called lawmakers.  Instead, they passed a resolution asking the state family police agency to stop this practice.  (I haven’t seen the text, I don’t know if they remembered to say “please.”) 

The family police agency, the state Department of Human Services, responded with a lie – purely by accident, they say.  In legislative testimony they not only told the Legislature they’d ended the practice, they demanded that the legislature give them an extra $500,000 to make up for the funds they are losing. 

But, as Hawaii News Now reports, that simply wasn’t true:  

DHS officials said “the testimony submitted was the incorrect version and the error was not caught until after.” … Social Services Division Administrator Daisy Hartsfield added: “What actually occurred is that we immediately began discussions to consider how we can cease Social Security payments for use of foster board reimbursements.” 

Then came the blackmail.  According to an agency statement: 

“While DHS changed its position as requested by last year’s resolution, the Legislature will need to appropriate general funds to DHS to replace the federal Social Security benefits available for the child’s care …” 

In other words, give us $500,000 or we’ll keep stealing it from the kids! 

At this point, it’s worth noting that the Hawaii Department of Human Services has a total budget of nearly $3.8 billion.  But somehow, they are either too greedy or too incompetent to find $500,000 in savings (that’s 0.0001% of their budget), so they don’t have to steal it from children for whom it could be life-changing. 

It’s also interesting to see where the money DHS steals from foster children is going: It’s used to pay
their foster parents.  Only in a system as morally bankrupt as “child welfare” could it be considered acceptable to make children pay an allowance to their substitute parents.

Now consider: This is an agency so arrogant that it first lied to the State Legislature (by mistake, they say) and then tried blackmail – give us that $500,000 or we’ll keep stealing it from the kids! If that’s how they treat state lawmakers, how do you think they treat families? 

But then, the people at Hawaii DHS have plenty of reason to think they can get away with it.  One need only read the outstanding reporting of John Hill in Honolulu Civil Beat to see the extent to which the Hawaii family police run roughshod over families, and the extent to which the legislature is content to let them get away with it. 

But hey, all is not lost. According to Hawaii News Now, 

On Thursday morning, the Legislature’s latest resolution calling for DHS to stop taking the Social Security benefits cleared its latest hurdle passing through the Human Services committee. 

Perhaps this time it says “Pretty please.”