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Cathy Betts to continue as director of the state Department of Human Services

Cathy Betts.png
Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services

Cathy Betts was confirmed by the state Senate Wednesday to continue her role as director of the Department of Human Services.

Betts was asked to continue her DHS leadership after Gov. Josh Green appointed her, as well as several other familiar government faces, in December.

Betts is most well-known in the community for her work with women's rights and Title IX. As a former Patsy T. Mink Legislative Fellow and Hawaiʻi Women Lawyer's President Award winner, she has said her main focus with DHS is to steer the needle toward equality.

"At the core of the work I do, I always remember survivors. Survivors are why I strive to make a more equitable system and why I care as much as I do about the work this department does," Betts said during testimony for her confirmation on Wednesday.

Prior to her first appointment as director in 2020, Betts served as the deputy director for former DHS director Pankaj Bhanot. During that time, she was credited for her leadership in passing the Compassionate Care Act to help provide resources to victims of rape and assault.

"I have served this department through four different directors and four different governors and I can safely say that we have changed the way state government functions," Betts said.

During her testimony to the Senate, she said her vision for DHS going forward "is simple."

"We continue to care for individuals and families that need it," Betts said. "We invest in our staff to ensure they are equipped with best practices, trauma informed care and information, and we invest in our technology to continue de-siloing our government legacy systems that no longer serve us."

The Senate committee on Health and Human Services voted unanimously to confirm Betts on Wednesday. Joseph Campos II will continue to serve as Bett's DHS deputy director.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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