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HI Hopes and Dreams for Foster Care Participants

Posted on Nov 25, 2019 in Featured News, News & Reports, Press Releases
Photo of: Front row (left): District Family Court Judge Lloyd Poelman, Samantha Uu, Jason Gumbac, Sharla Fujimoto, Aponi Boyer, and District Family Court Judge Adrianne Heely. Second row (left): Ipolani Mae-Pescaia, Malia Ferriera, and Kholby Akuna. Back: Brian Raphael.

Front row (left): District Family Court Judge Lloyd Poelman, Samantha Uu, Jason Gumbac, Sharla Fujimoto, Aponi Boyer, and District Family Court Judge Adrianne Heely. Second row (left): Ipolani Mae-Pescaia, Malia Ferriera, and Kholby Akuna. Back: Brian Raphael.

WAILUKU, HI — The Foster Care system usually ends its support for youth when they turn 18, a critical time in their lives as they transition to adulthood to face the responsibilities of living independently. That is why the Judiciary partners every year with HI HOPES Hawaii (Foster Youth Board) to invite foster care teens and young adult graduates to Dream Day, where they can access information and services to help them successfully begin their new lives.

“Imagine growing up without your parents or family and, at 18 being thrust into the world to figure out on your own what to do next,” said Maui District Family Court Judge Adrianne Heely. “We created Dream Day to share resources with the teens and young adults so they know about available opportunities and the many organizations ready to help them. We also wanted to give them a chance to network with others who grew up in similar circumstances so they can learn from one another.”

This was the sixth annual event, held last month at Hoapili Hale (Wailuku Courthouse) . It was attended by young people from Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. They talked with representatives from the Office of Youth Services; Department of Human Services; Child Welfare Services; and Maui Police Department’s KALO Program (family strengthening).

The University of Hawaii Maui College Kuina Program, provided information on free career counseling, vocational education and training, housing, and transportation assistance. Hui No Ke Ola Pono’s program representatives talked to the youth about full scholarship opportunities for part-Hawaiians interested in obtaining certificates in Nursing; Dental Assistance, Front Office; Aquaponics; Agriculture, and Business. Also present were Department of Health Maui Family Guidance Center (mental health services); Maui Youth & Family Service (substance abuse and shelter support); Maui Job Corps; Attorney Generals Office (legal rights); Department of Prosecuting Attorney; Office of the Public Defender; restorative justice providers; and guardian ad litems and social workers from the Judiciary.

The guest speaker for Maui County’s Dream Day was from the Moku of Molokai, Ipolani Mae-Pescaia. She was the first president of the HI HOPES Board and was very instrumental in drafting legislation for the Rights of Children in Foster Care (H.R.S.§587A-3.1). After graduating from the Foster Care system, Mae-Pescaia served as a social worker in states across the country and shared her manao on how to make improvements in the Foster Care System. She has since returned to her island home, Molokai, and is passionate about giving back to her community and other youth in foster care. Mae-Pescaia encouraged the youth and teens present to explore options other than drugs, alcohol, or violence and inspired them to dream about the possibilities and thrive in their community.

“I especially want to thank The Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, HI HOPES Board, and EPIC OHANA for securing the guest speakers, and providing small gifts and lucky drawing prizes for the attendees,” said Judge Heely. “Everyone left with a small gift or door prize, along with the information to help them with their future endeavors.”

For more information, contact the Communications and Community Relations Office at 808-539-4909 or via email at pao@courts.hawaii.gov.

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