Hale Kipa Program Coordinator Michelle Kinimaka and Dez, a youth who has received foster care and Imua Kākou program services through Hale Kipa, were guests on “Aloha United We Stand” on Oct. 20, 2016. This special ThinkTech Hawaii weekly segment is dedicated to the people and organizations making a difference in Hawaii.
Kinimaka and Dez discussed with Host Chris Aguinaldo the challenges and responsibilities of transitioning youth into independent living, reviewing the State’s Independent Living Programs (ILP) and the Imua Kākou program, which for the past 2 years has served youth who age out of foster care at 18 years old. On Oahu alone, around 80 youth a year age out of foster care services.
Independent Living Programs provide outreach services as well as some residential programs for youth who are in or transitioning out of foster care, to prepare them for independent living. Youth can be referred to an Independent Living Program as young as 12 years old.
“For youth who have aged out, housing is the most crucial issue,” Kinimaka said. “If you don’t have stable housing, you are not going to make it to that job or make it to school every day, or be able to get your homework done at night if you are trying to figure out where you are going to sleep.”
In addition, there is a shortage of foster homes in Hawaii, Kinimaka said. “We can always use more people that are willing to open their homes that have a lot of love to offer and support for children.”
After turning 18 years old, Dez said she moved into an emergency foster care home, where she has lived for the past 3 years as she attended school and worked.
“They have become like my family,” she said. “They love me as their own daughter.”
Dez credits her 4 years of guidance from her Hale Kipa case manager as the most helpful part of her involvement in foster care and Independent Living Programs, in addition to support for higher education and housing expenses. Independent Living Programs also help youth build skills like money management, grocery shopping, and nutrition and health, Kinimaka said.
“We do a lot of work helping them find all the different scholarships and the things they are eligible for, and a lot of things they may not have known about,” Kinimaka said.
“Aloha United We Stand” is a half-hour show made possible by Aloha United Way and airs on OC16 every Thursday at noon. Click here to watch the full segment on ThinkTech Hawaii’s YouTube Channel.
Click here to learn more about Hale Kipa’s Foster Home Development Program, which recruits, trains and licenses foster homes and provides ongoing support for foster parents.
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