By Diane Ako
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- More than 2,000 foster children and their foster families, some 700 volunteers and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus with elves attended the ninth annual Foster Family Programs of Hawaii Holiday Party on Sunday at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
16-year-old Danielle Scott was there with her adopted family, which consisted of five other adoptees and three foster children. She lived with her parents, the Scotts, as a foster kid before they adopted her.
Danielle says the lunch is meaningful to foster children because "It helps the little kids that don't have a chance to have families. And for people to take out of their time to be able to help little kids like that, I think it's a good thing."
The community comes together each year in this enormous holiday spirit effort to ensure that each child receives an individually wrapped gift with his/her name on it; that each person gets the full turkey and trimmings and dessert holiday meal; and that there's fun, music, activities, photos and lots of camaraderie!
Foster Family Programs of Hawaii and Rotary Club of Honolulu sponsor the day. Foster Family Programs of Hawaii is a child welfare services agency with offices in Honolulu and Hilo, specializing in professional case management services to children in out of home care, including foster care, adoption, and guardianship families, and services for youth transitioning out of the foster care system. It is the home of the Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition and Hawaii Attachment Resource Connection.
More information from Foster Family Programs of Hawaii:
The Facts About Hawaii's Foster Children
- In 2006, 4,385 children entered foster care in Hawaii. On any given day, there are approx. 2,100 children in the foster care system. This is a significant decrease as our state has developed new and innovative programs to protect and serve our children and families better.
- Of the nearly 2,034 children who exited foster care in fiscal year 2006, 61% were reunified with their families, 22% were adopted, 10% were placed into legal guardianship, and 10% left to another type of exit such as emancipation.
- Foster children come from all backgrounds and all age groups -- from birth to age 18. In Hawaii about 45% of foster children are of Hawaiian or part Hawaiian ethnicity.
- The older a foster child is, the more difficult it is to find an adoptive home. This is also true for those children who have special needs and disabilities like fetal alcohol syndrome, severe medical conditions, etc.
- Confirmed cases of child abuse in Hawaii have decreased. In 2006, confirmed reports of child abuse decreased by 22% from 2005. At the end of Fiscal Year, there were 5,686 active Child Welfare Services cases compared to 6,538 at the end of FY 2005.
- Sibling groups are typically more difficult to place together, resulting in the separation of families - another trauma for the foster child to endure.
- Children go into foster care for many reasons, the most common of which are physical abuse, Parental drug use, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
- Unmet needs for many foster children include basics such as braces and cosmetic dentistry, hearing aides, summer camp, sibling visitations, tutoring, Christmas gifts, as well as the opportunity to participate in sporting events and after-school activities.
While there are very few studies that have tracked foster children's lives after foster care, it is clear that their fragmented childhood will have a lasting and debilitating effect on their personal and professional lives.
Many will not have completed high school; Many will have difficulty finding and retaining a decent job; Many will live on welfare; Many will have difficulty finding and keeping healthy relationships; Many will fall into substance abuse and prostitution; Many will have early and unwanted pregnancies outside of marriage; Many will fall into trouble with the law; Many will become child abusers themselves, repeating the dysfunctional cycle.
All will have scars for the rest of their lives. Some, the lucky ones, will find loving homes and caring members of the community to help them overcome.
Foster Family Programs of Hawaii
Children are Hawai`i's most valuable resource. They are our future. Foster Family Programs of Hawai`i (FFP) is a unique non-profit agency remaining true to its origins of providing quality care to the children of Hawai`i. FFP's goal is that every child in Hawai`i has the opportunity and resources to reach his or her full potential - especially children who are in or may become involved in - foster care.
Foster Family Programs is building, step-by-step, comprehensive programs serving the needs of these children. Children are best raised in healthy, loving families. FFP seeks to create programs to strengthen families and meet their ever-changing needs.
Voluntary Case Management
The Voluntary Case Management program is a preventive effort to support youth and families so that they do not become involved in the Child Welfare System. The goal of this program is to create a safe and healthy home for children by preserving family strengths and decreasing family stress. This program uses a Family Centered Practice approach based upon the belief that families know best what works to keep their children safe.
Foster Family Program's VCM services are available in Leeward Oahu and East Hawai`i.
Long Term Foster Care
Foster Family Programs of Hawai`i offers quality long-term foster care through its offices in Honolulu and Hilo. Foster Family Programs teams with foster parents to assist youth in developing knowledge and skills needed for self-sufficiency, while maintaining a sense of connectedness and belonging in a family environment.
Resource Family Support Services
As a partner in Hui Ho`omalo, Foster Family Programs provides a Warm Line, monthly support groups, and training for resource families statewide and mentoring.
Foster Family Programs of Hawai`i provides enhancements to foster children through grants received from the Victoria S. & Bradley L. Geist Foundation and the Teresa F. Hughes Trust Estate. Activities and items funded can include tutors; summer school tuition; self esteem programs such as sports, dance, scouting, martial arts and music; special events such as proms, graduation, travel to the mainland or neighbor islands; and special projects such as back-to-school items.
Foster Family Programs of Hawai`i hosts two annual events for foster children and their families. The Summer Picnic and Holiday Party honor children in care and serve as a thank you to families who welcome foster children into their homes.
At the Summer Picnic, more than 1,000 foster children and their families enjoy a day of fun in the sun. Almost 2000 foster children and their families attend the Holiday Party held in December. They are treated to a festive holiday meal, non-stop entertainment, activities for youth and a visit with Santa Claus. Each child attending receives a personalized gift.
Together, these events are staffed by 600+ volunteers who give support to ensure that foster children and their families have fun-filled days.
Hawai`i Foster Youth Coalition
Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition (HFYC), a project of Foster Family Programs of Hawai`i, is a youth lead organization that assists youth in the foster care system. By advising and advocating for a successful future, HFYC helps foster youth to see life's possibilities. HFYC provides transitional assistance for existing foster youth. HFYC members serve as peer mentors and offer outreach to the foster youth of Hawai`i.
Foster Family Programs' Adoption Respite program, through a grant from the Hawai`i Children's Trust Fund (HCTF), connects adoptive families to quality respite care. Respite is a primary component of successful adoptions. This program offers recruitment, licensing and training quality respite care providers; recruits adoptive families; and coordinates and matches adoptive families to respite care providers.
Hawaii Attach Resource Connection