The Family Court internship is offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters for 2L and 3L students. All interns complete a 5-week Volunteer Guardian ad Litem certification course and have the opportunity to receive training in areas such as domestic violence, sex abuse, substance abuse, mental health, early childhood development, behavior and psychology, and other issues in child abuse. Interns primarily work as Parent Facilitators with the Family Court Ho'olokahi Program and engage in a variety of other projects in child welfare law. The internship helps students develop a thorough understanding of the child welfare system and laws, and prepares them for careers in advocacy for children and families.
The Ho'olokahi Program is a resource for indigent parents in the child welfare system. Interns work collaboratively with Master of Social Work students from the University of Hawaiʻi School of Social Work to staff this program as Parent Facilitators. Parent Facilitators work directly with parents and assist them in navigating the court process by providing orientations to parents at their first hearing, completing comprehensive case reviews and write-ups, and staffing a parent hotline. Prior to August 2008, interns also assisted parents with filing pro se motions in their cases.
One of the major projects completed by interns was the creation of a Family Court orientation video for parents. Interns wrote the script for and produced a concise 15-minute video that provides an overview of the child welfare court process. This video is shown on O'ahu, as well as the Family Courts on the neighbor islands. The video will be translated into Marshallese and Chuukese to provide access to non-English-speaking populations in the community. Other languages will be added as funds permit.
In addition to their work at Family Court, interns are involved in numerous other projects related to child welfare law. Examples include:
- Research assistance for parents' counsel on complicated legal issues in cases on appeal;
- Research on proposed bills related to foster care, submission of written testimony, and attendance at legislative hearings;
- Assistance with a Family Court study to determine the feasibility of establishing a juvenile court in Waianae to provide greater access to the large juvenile population residing on the Waianae Coast;
- Research paper on the best interests of the child (BIOC) standard; memo was used by panelists in a discussion about the BIOC standard at the 2008 Annual Child Welfare Law Update Conference;
- Coordination of a site visit for Home Maluhia (Juvenile Shelter Home) residents to tour the Honolulu Community College and meet with faculty in the automotive and cosmetology vocational programs;
- Development of an age-appropriate book to explain foster care to very young children; and
- Staff support at various child welfare conferences.