was created in 2019 as a safe haven for Hawai’i Island ʻōpio who have experienced or are experiencing trauma, namely foster children and youth. For the first several months, the entire program was self-funded by the CEO of Humanity Hale for whom provided in-kind support to the organization's operations. Driven by their aloha of the children and youth, community mentors who implement programming have also historically provided their time, knowledge, and skills free of charge. We currently have 17 trained volunteers, including the CEO/Founder, who has gone unpaid since establishment. All of our programs are staffed by trained volunteers and mentors, including Hawaiian cultural practitioners, social workers, licensed clinical therapists, and others who have a deep investment in our youth. This includes kūpuna so that intergenerational education is perpetuated. Both the youth and kūpuna co-create activities that allow for traditional knowledge sharing on systems, practices and beliefs and provide youth with a sense of place, tradition, and community.
We work with primarily Native Hawaiian at-promise youth on Hawai’i Island from ages 8 and up who are experiencing trauma within the home. Here in Hawai'i, there are over 1,250 children and youth in Hawaiʻi’s foster care system and nearly 50% of them are Native Hawaiian.
Often these at-promise youth are those within the foster care system and/or aging out of the system. Too often, however, youth that pass through the foster care system fail to find permanent homes, transitioning from one living situation to another and often finding themselves experiencing chronic homelessness. The child welfare system is sometimes described as a highway to homelessness. We wish to disrupt this highway and create off-ramps to permanent supportive housing and relevant housing services.
PROBLEM OR OPPORTUNITY
Humanity Hale was created as a safe haven for Hawaiʻi Island youth to discover the tools to heal cultural, historical, and intergenerational trauma. We do this work by preserving, strengthening and renewing Hawaiian culture and traditions among our most undervalued youth in Hawaiʻi — primarily Native Hawaiian foster youth — through our many programs. Our life enhancing programs include Hawaiian Arts, Art Therapy, Individual & Group Therapy, Life Skills, and Abuse Prevention & Diversity Training.
The child welfare system is sometimes described as a highway to homelessness. An estimated 20 percent of young adults who are in care become homeless the moment they’re emancipated at the age of 18. And nationwide, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care. Foster care is designed to provide temporary housing and care for children and adolescents until they can be either reunited with their family, taken in by relatives, adopted, or emancipated as an adult. Too often, however, youth that pass through the foster care system fail to find permanent homes, transitioning from one living situation to another and often finding themselves experiencing chronic homelessness. Youth still in foster care at the time of their 18th birthday (21st birthday in some states) are “emancipated,” or released shortly after reaching the age of majority. With little or no money to support themselves and often with no family members to turn to, many find themselves without a permanent place to live. As a result, an average of 1 out of every 4 youth in foster care will become homeless within 4 years of aging out of foster care. Additionally, approximately 25% of former foster youth experience homelessness within 4 years of being emancipated from the foster care system. Even more troublesome, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, each year approximately 550,000 youth without parents/guardians and young adults up to age 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week, and more than half are under the age of 18. Here in Hawai'i, there are over 1,250 children and youth in Hawaiʻi’s foster care system and nearly 50% of them are Native Hawaiian. In comparison, the 2020 Census reported that just 33% of all the children under age 18 in the state were Native Hawaiian. Research shows that strong cultural identity contributes to mental health resilience, higher levels of social well-being, and improved coping skills, among other benefits, of foster youth. With limited resources for foster youth and those aging out of the system on Hawaiʻi Island, our program is needed.