Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Hawaii

Date: November 2021

Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 350-1.1

A mandated reporter who has reason to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred shall immediately report the matter orally to the Department of Human Services or the police department. The initial oral report shall be followed as soon as possible by a report in writing to the department.

Content of Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 350-1.1

All written reports shall contain the following, if known:

  • The name and address of the child and the child's parents or other persons responsible for the child's care
  • The child's age
  • The nature and extent of the child's injuries
  • Any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful or relevant to the investigation

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 350-2

The department shall receive reports concerning child abuse or neglect.

The department shall inform the appropriate police department or office of the prosecuting attorney of the relevant information concerning a case of child abuse or neglect when the information is required for the investigation or prosecution of that case.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Code of Rules § 17-1610-17

Upon receipt of a report, the department immediately shall assess the validity of the report, the safety of the child, and the agency response to the report.

If the department determines the report involves high or severe harm or severe threatened harm, the report shall be accepted for further assessment. If the report involves a low or moderate level of harm or threatened harm, the family may be diverted to community resources for short-term counseling, outreach, and/or support services.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 587A-11

Upon receiving a report that a child is subject to imminent harm, has been harmed, or is subject to threatened harm, and when an assessment is required by this chapter, the department shall conduct an investigation as it deems appropriate.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 587A-11; Code of Rules § 17-1610-23

In conducting the investigation, the department may do the following:

  • Enlist the cooperation and assistance of appropriate State and Federal law enforcement authorities, who may investigate and, if an investigation is conducted, shall provide the department with all preliminary findings, including the results of a criminal history record check of an alleged perpetrator
  • Conduct a criminal history record check of an alleged perpetrator and all adults living in the family home to ensure the safety of the child
  • Interview the child without the presence or prior approval of the child's family and temporarily assume protective custody of the child for the purpose of conducting the interview
  • Resolve the matter in an informal fashion that it deems appropriate under the circumstances
  • Close the matter if the department finds, after an assessment, that the child is residing with a caregiver who is willing and able to meet the child's needs and provide a safe and appropriate placement for the child

In regulation: The department shall assess each report accepted by the department in accordance with departmental procedures. The assessment will determine whether the child has been harmed or is threatened with harm and the action that will be taken by the department.

The department shall determine and initiate any needed services necessary to complete the assessment, including, but not limited to, multidisciplinary team consultation, psychological, psychiatric, psychosexual, or other needed evaluations.

When additional facts are needed to thoroughly evaluate the family and child's current situation, the department shall contact other persons or agencies that may possess knowledge of the family without consent.

A written medical assessment of the child's physical condition shall be obtained when sexual abuse is suspected or there is a report of severe abuse, neglect, or medical neglect.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Code of Rule § 17-1610-24

For those reports accepted for assessment, a disposition shall be made in accordance with departmental procedures and documented in the department's information system within 60 working days of the acceptance of the report as to whether the child has been harmed.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Code of Rules § 17-1610-2

Reports may be classified as follows:

  • Confirmed: An investigation conducted by the department revealed reasonable cause to believe that harm or threatened harm occurred.
  • Not confirmed: An investigation conducted by the department revealed that there was insufficient evidence to confirm that harm or threatened harm had occurred.
  • Unsubstantiated: The statement or information contained in the child abuse and/or neglect report was found by the department to be frivolous or made in bad faith.