Commit to Keiki supports Governor Josh Green’s bill relating to infant and early childhood mental health

Children on the grass at Kualoa Beach Park

Photo credit: Family Hui Hawaiʻi

Commit to Keiki strongly supports Governor Josh Green’s bill that establishes an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health program within the Department of Health (DOH). If passed, Senate Bill (SB) 1351 will not only prioritize our youngest and most vulnerable keiki by providing and coordinating mental health services for children from birth to age five, it will also provide the means to develop and implement strategies for the delivery of consultation services, workforce training, and promote an overall better understanding of the needs of infants and young children.

It is estimated that 29,000 keiki under five are in need of mental health supports, which is on par with adult mental health needs. Over the years, several philanthropic organizations, including the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, have made investments that have started to address this critical need, but the demand for services in overwhelming, especially post-COVID.

By creating an Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health program within DOH, Hawai‘i will be able access federal funding to provide additional consultation services to communities, statewide. This new program will enhance the work that is already underway, and ultimately, enable Hawai‘i’s keiki to have a brighter start. If our keiki are happy, healthy and safe, they will grow up to be thriving members of society and will positively contribute to the overall success of our community.

SB 1351, SD2 crossed over to the House. It was passed out with amendments by the joint committee on Human Services (HUS) and Health & Homelessness (HLT) yesterday. It will be heading to the House Committee on Finance (FIN) for hearing next.