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The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE), in partnership with Hale Kipa, will soon launch its Ho`oikaika – Cultivating Resilience and Recovery Program (HCRR).

HCRR will provide and expand mental health services for pre-K through 12th grade students who have experienced toxic trauma and stress that interferes with their school success. Part of Hale Kipa’s role includes professional development training to key HIDOE employees and staff on school campuses, to develop a Provider Guide for mental health services and provide direct mental health services.

Ho`oikaika – a trauma informed approach, endeavors to increase resilience for this at-risk student population. The program is possible through a $4.4 million, five-year U.S. Department of Education grant awarded to the state. Hawaii is one of five states to receive the grant, including Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, and Nevada.

In the first year, HCRR will focus on four pilot schools: Waimanalo Elementary School and Kailua High School on Oahu, and Na’alehu and Pahala elementary schools and Kau High School on Hawai`i Island. In 2022, it will expand to other Title 1 schools statewide. Other providers are also expected to be added to the program for upcoming years.

As part of Hale Kipa’s role, Ellen Wright, Chief Program Officer and Clinical Supervisor, and Laura Brucia Hamm, Director of Development and Quality Improvement, provided training in December of last year and in January 2021 to 200 HIDOE School Based Behavioral Health professionals (SBBH) and school counselors.

The training is designed to help prepare the SBBH and counselors to receive, identify, and refer students to the HCCR program, and to better provide necessary services, with a resilience and trauma informed lens. It is also available through a recording to all SBBH and school counselors. Several additional schools and other local nonprofits have already reached out to Hale Kipa for the training.

Hale Kipa also created an eligibility form that will help school staff identify students who will be best served by the program. To be eligible for the HCRR, students will need to meet all three of the following criteria: exposure to trauma (which can include any physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening event that may have lasting adverse impacts on their functioning and mental and physical social or emotional well-being); academic, behavioral, attendance or other challenges at school; and eligibility through income level or shortcomings in health insurance.