16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Lillian B. Koller, Esq.
The inspired leadership of Lillian B. Koller, Esq., Director of Hawaii's Department of Human Services for the last four years, has enabled the Department to complete successfully its Program Improvement Plan, while instituting numerous best practices. These include significantly enhancing outcomes for families and children, improving the skills and qualifications of staff and resource families, drastically reducing the number of children removed from their homes, building community capacity, fostering collaboration among child advocates and child and family serving agencies, and creating numerous partnerships with the University of Hawaii's Schools of Medicine, Social Work, Nursing, and Law.
Through the creative use of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Title IV-E, i.e., the Federally-funded adoption assistance program, and Medicaid monies previously untapped by the State, Ms. Koller has more than doubled the dollars allocated to community-based services. The intent is to strengthen and support vulnerable families and their children, while instituting a differential response system with community partners that encourages families to voluntarily engage in services to resolve their issues without formal involvement of Child Welfare Services (CWS) or the court. This has achieved a 30 percent reduction in the number of children removed from their homes.
Ms. Koller has led an aggressive outreach effort to the Native Hawaiian community to identify, nurture, and support Native Hawaiian resource families. She emphasizes particularly early identification of suitable kin who may serve as a resource or adoptive families and the development of neighborhood-based support networks to sustain these families.
Since assuming the helm of the Hawaii Department of Human Services, Ms. Koller has championed the adoption of evidence-based practices, a quality assurance program for CWS, and ongoing training for staff and community-based agencies; upgraded data collection systems to monitor the implementation of these initiatives; reinforced management accountability for results; and reformed the agency's culture to focus on improved outcomes for children and families. Her unwavering dedication to collaboration and community capacity building assures her status as national role model for the effective enactment of system reform.