Molokai Drop In Center to Stay Open
UPDATE: Althea Childs was hired back on Tuesday, June 21, and Joe Childs also received an extension and will be re-hired when his contract expires on June 27, according to DOH officials. Business will continue as usual with no interruption in service.
After recent concern that Molokai’s Hana Ka Lima Clubhouse, also known as the drop in center, was at risk, residents and clubhouse members can breathe a sigh of relief that the facility will likely remain open.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued an exemption this week for the state-wide hiring freeze, allowing certain employees of the Mental Health division of the Department of Health (DOH) to be hired or re-hired, according to DOH Public Information Officer Janice Okubo.
Molokai clubhouse case manager Joe Childs and his wife Althea work on an 89-day contract basis. Althea’s contract has already expired, and Joe’s is scheduled to expire on June 27. The hiring freeze, activated due to budget shortfalls, would prevent them from renewing their contracts – and would have effectively shut down the drop in center. The DOH requested the exemption, and the governor approved it last week, according to DOH officials.
Trina Tom, manager of the Maui Community Mental Health Center that helps with services on Molokai and Lanai, said they are still waiting for the final paperwork to be processed, but she is hopeful it will go through before June 27 to allow continuous service.
“[The Childs] still have to go through the regular application process, but we are expediting that process [for them],” said Okubo. “The community can be reassured that we really want to keep…the clubhouse operating.”
Tom and other DOH staff visited Molokai two week ago to develop a contingency plan in case the appointments could not be extended. That plan included supplementing Molokai’s clubhouse employees with Maui staff while the contract extensions were confirmed. Tom said a Maui staff member traveled to Molokai last week for one day to provide “hands-on support.”
With the exemption, Joe will be required to take a one day break in service, and will be hired back on the 29th. Althea’s contract, having already expired, could be renewed as soon as this week, according to Okubo.
The drop in center offers support services for the island’s recovering addicts and mental health patients, providing a garden, kitchen, computers, activities and a supportive shoulder or ear.
“We don’t have to activate the contingency plan because of the [extensions],” said Tom. “No worry…Molokai is taken care of.”