Program for formerly homeless kids helps them break habits learned on the streets

Program for formerly homeless kids helps them break habits learned on the streets

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Breaking bad habits isn’t easy. The ones Hawaii’s children learn from life on the street are particularly tough to shed.

“For homeless children, before coming into shelter, they’re never sleeping in the same place. They’re not going to school. They’re not eating on normal schedules," says Kimo Carvalho. "They don’t really have consistency in their lives, so when they get here to IHS, we almost have to push the pause and reset button to get them back into a system of normalcy.”

The IHS spokesman says over the past year the the Children’s Enrichment Program has worked with 211 kids. Case managers, alongside volunteers, help with everything from health screenings to homework.

“They can range from any age, infant to 17,” said Carvalho. “It’s really a holistic family enrichment program. Even just getting into a normal homework schedule, we bring mom and dad downstairs and we teach them how to interact with their kids. How to connect with them. How to listen to them.”

Another focus is helping each child adjust socially. That includes making sure they can participate in extra-curricular activities.

“When you get these kids into settings like surfing in Waikiki or Bishop Museum to learn about astronomy, these kids get inspired,” said Carvalho.

Summer Fun activities are part of the shelter's Children's Enrichment Program.
Summer Fun activities are part of the shelter's Children's Enrichment Program. (Institute for Human Services)

With the opening of the igloo village in Kahaluu expected later this year, and the completion of phase two at Kahauiki Village in 2019, Carvalho says they’ll need to hire more staff to help an estimated 100 additional children — but he says the money isn’t there to do it.

“Right now the private sector is really the one picking up the tab. Really carrying all the weight. There’s really not an investment from government at all,” said Carvalho.

In the meantime Carvalho says IHS is always looking for tutors and other volunteers to help with their children’s programs as well as businesses who might want to sponsor an activity.

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