LIHUE — Janice Bond, commissioner for Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service, has helped 36 foster children, some of them with two and three siblings.
“My late husband and I had a miscarriage,” Bond said. “He had five boys, and I had two boys. We should have really adopted a girl when we had a miscarriage. But he said there will always be children that need homes, so we licensed and got one.”
When her husband passed away at 45, Bond continued fostering children in need.
“I have a list of when their birthday is, when they got placed,” she said. “I’ve had some just born. The one that I had last, she was at three weeks old. She was six months old when I gave her back to the other foster parents.”
The County Council recently approved a certificate of appreciation to commend Hui Ho‘omalu, a program of Partners in Development Foundation that equips families for success using Native Hawaiian values and traditions.
“I just want to congratulate and thank all the foster families and the support in the agencies,” said council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa. “If anybody would say this is not a large problem they’d be ignorant. The problem out there is huge.”
The program is a statewide initiative aimed at identifying, recruiting, screening, training, assessing, supporting and retaining foster parents for children and families. Through a master contract with the state’s Department of Human Services, the foundation formed Hui Ho‘omalu to enhance Hawaii’s foster care system.
“They do a lot 24/7, and not everybody realizes how much gets put into it,” said community liaison Monica Ka‘auwai. “On Kauai, we need many more resource caregivers. That’s another reason why we’re really bringing attention to it, because of the need. There’s about a hundred keiki in foster care, and there’s about 80 resource caregivers.”
The organization is seeking foster parents, also known as resource caregivers, to continue helping families and children in need.
“We want to provide a pool of families,” Ka‘auwai said, “so that when a child comes into care, the social workers can choose families and have that best placement for the kids.”
The nonprofit organization is accepting donations in the form of gift cards, living supplies, meeting places and transportation.
“For me, ohana is very important, so that’s why I do what I do,” said volunteer Iwalani Ka‘auwai-Herrod. “I hope that we can support our ohana, which includes our keiki, our parents and everyone, as well as the extended ohana, our two islands, Kauai and Niihau. If we can be supportive and helpful to our families, we can grow and nourish and just be one big, wonderful, happy family.”
Resource families provide safe, temporary care for a child while working toward reunification with their parents or relatives.
The main focus is uniting kids with their parents, an important incentive for parents to stay clean and on the right path.
“To the foster parents, thank you for being compassionate and nurturing,” said Councilmember Derek Kawakami. “All the studies have shown that when these kids are loved and feel valued, their rate of success is astronomical.”