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Removed from his home by the State, William Josiah was referred to Hale Kipa’s Emergency Shelter (ESH). Staff immediately redirected him to the Community Mental Health Shelter (CMHS) because they recognized that his behavioral challenges would be better addressed there. While William made steady progress, some of his behaviors persisted, so when it became clear William would need a longer term solution, we guided him to Hale Kipa’s Therapeutic Foster Home program.

William’s rapid success since then has a lot to do with the chemistry in his foster home. As always, the right match of youth to foster home was as much art as science. Hale Kipa found a warm Samoan home with two children, and strong parents willing to work with William despite his history and raw emotional state. It was just what William needed.

“We have lots of rules. If you break them, you get punished. Usually grounding. But they’re always fair.”

As William’s behaviors improved, he was “stepped down” to the Hanai Home Program—a continuation of foster care, but without the therapeutic element. By this point, his foster family had become key to his success, so he was allowed to remain in the same home. As he settled into a structured life, William got very into football. A natural leader, he and his foster brother organized a league to make sure they always had competition.

“There’s a lot of kids around that area. We would bring them together and challenge them to play us. Some of them would give us a hard time, but we always won.”

Throughout his time with us, William has worked with an Advocate from Hale Kipa’s HAP (Hawaii Advocate Program). One of our Outreach programs, HAP matches a youth with a community advocate who stays with them through every transition. It’s what we call a “wrap-around service,” in that whatever program a youth goes through—within Hale Kipa or not—the same committed person will provide consistency and trust.

Just over one year in his foster home, the turn-around is nothing short of miraculous. William is not yet 14, but his advice for kids in a similar situation might as well come from a self-help best-seller.

“Just give it a chance. When somebody is trying to help you, or try to find a good home for you. I know that I would have missed out on a lot if I didn’t give my foster parents a chance.”

What’s most remarkable about William is the sense of empathy he’s developed in his short year-and-a-half progressing through Hale Kipa. From a troubled kid who lashed out at any helping hand, he is becoming the leader among his peers that he was meant to be.

“I had a bestest friend. He used to be really good. Then he started hanging around with these bad kids. He ended up running away from home. His dad was a teacher. He told me to tell my friend to come home if I seen him. When I seen him around, I told him, “go home. Everything is ok. Just go home.” But he won’t go home. Finally the cops came and found him. I seen him handcuffed. I started crying because he’s my best friend. To see him in handcuffs.”

William wants to play football. His eyes are on the NFL, but he knows he’ll have to play some high school and college ball first.