Grantee finds that Hawaii’s child welfare practices are an outlier among other states

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, whose judges are shown meeting in Honolulu in 2016, have drawn very narrow criteria for when children can be taken from parents without a court order.

As part of Hawaii Civil Beat’s ongoing series supported by the Fund examining the state’s child welfare system, John Hill surveyed western states to find that Hawaii almost stands alone. More than 80 percent of children taken into protective custody in Hawaii are removed from their families without a judge’s approval. Hill found that Hawaii relies on warrantless removals far more than many other jurisdictions in the western U.S. Data from Hawaii’s Department of Human Services show that, for instance, in 2021, 85.3% of the 966 children who entered foster care in Hawaii did so via police protective custody.