Councilmember Johnson acknowledges National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Council Member Gabe Johnson introduced a ceremonial resolution that was unanimously adopted at Friday’s council meeting recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month and thanking the many nonprofit organizations committed to preventing child abuse and neglect in Maui County.

Johnson said this resolution is an acknowledgement of nonprofit organizations such as those in the Hoʻoikaika Partnership— a cross-sector coalition of community-based organizations, individuals, and county and state agencies.

April was first designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983, a year after the US Senate and the House of Representatives declared June 6-12, 1982, the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week.

“Child abuse prevention should be encouraged every month,” said Johnson, who holds the seat for the Lānaʻi residency area, “but I am grateful that April is dedicated to bringing awareness to this crucial matter, giving us the opportunity to recognize the critical work being done by local organizations to prevent child abuse and neglect, especially during the aftermath of the fires.”

“As policy makers and members of the legislative branch with the power of the purse strings, our role is obvious,” said Johnson. “It’s our duty to make policies and fund programs that protect our keiki. Children should never have to experience the fear, violence, sorrow or intimidation associated with physical and emotional abuse, which can have repercussions lasting into adulthood and even into future generations,” said Johnson. “Every child deserves to grow up happy and safe.”

Johnson said correspondence from the County’s Department of Housing and Human Concerns revealed that more than $2.6 million requested for Fiscal Year 2025 to support early childhood programs, parent support and education, houseless services, food security programs, conflict resolution programs, community medical services, substance abuse prevention, immigrant services, sexual and domestic violence prevention and mental health services was not recommended by the mayor’s budget proposal.

If the council adopted the version of the budget as submitted by the mayor, funding for social services administered by the Department would be cut by $1.37 million, as compared to Fiscal Year 2024.

Ho'oikaika-Partnership-April-as-National-Child-Abuse-Prevention-Month-People Hugging

“We are experiencing an increase in despair after the devastating fires that destroyed Lahaina town and parts of Kula, compounded by a severe housing shortage, an economic downturn and rising costs of living,” he said. “Now is not the time to cut critical services that protect our most vulnerable; it’s time to double down, take care of our people and support agencies working hard to provide protective factors and prevent abuse,” he said.

“We need to protect and nurture our most vulnerable, especially in times of disaster, and support those who make it their life’s work to do so,” said Johnson.

The Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee will continue discussing the mayor’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2025 and will be making decisions to cut, add or reallocate funds through next week.

First reading of the proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget with the council’s amendments is scheduled for May 21.

Reprinted from Maui Now April 20, 2024