They've cared for 23 foster kids. And they're just getting started

They've cared for 23 foster kids. And they're just getting started

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii needs more people Brad and Esther McDaniel.

Over the last 14 years, in a state with a shortage of foster parents, they've cared for 23 foster children.

"We need more families who are willing to love these kids," Brad McDaniel said.

Last year, there were 2,508 children in foster care in Hawaii. But there were only 1,061 licensed foster homes.

Some homes can take in more than one child, but placement is still hard, especially for teenagers.

"In general our older children need to go into shelter care," said Tonia Mahi, and Oahu Child Welfare Services Administrator. "We just do not have enough resource care givers and the ones that will take teenagers. They kind of fill up."

The McDaniel home is one of 540 on the island of Oahu licensed by the state's Department of Human Services.

"The goal is re-unification," said Esther McDaniel. "We're hoping that these children will go back to their original birth parents."

Compared to other neighbor islands, Oahu has nearly double the amount of children in foster care but also more resources.

But the need statewide for resource caregivers, or foster parents, is now greater than ever -- especially on Hawaii Island," Mahi said.

Depending on the age of the child, caregivers get between $576 to $676 per child per month, along with allowances for clothing and medical coverage.

For families like the McDaniels, who also have two birth children of their own, it's not about the money (which sometimes doesn't cover expenses).

The reward, they say, is the impact they have on children's lives.

Loi-Mikaele Ross, 25, can attest to that. The McDaniels for him when he was a foster child at 10 years old.

"I'm grateful. Super grateful," said Ross. "Without them I probably would got stuck doing drugs or who knows."

The McDaniels run Harvest Family Life Ministries along with Kokua Closet, a place where foster children and their caregivers can get essentials like clothing and toiletries. The best part is: There's no charge.

On Nov. 4, Craft Fair for Hope will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to benefit Kokua Closet.

The event will be held at the Bay View Golf Course in Kaneohe. To learn more, call 694-0000.

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