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The Conversation

Hawaiʻi Island Does Not Have Enough Foster Parents for Its Children

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Michal Jarmoluk

Do you love children and want to make a difference in their lives? That’s the question Child & Family Service is asking Hawaiʻi Island residents as it steps up efforts to recruit foster parents.

The nonprofit says there’s an urgent need for foster families on the Big Island.

"Currently, we don't have enough foster parents to meet the need that we're seeing, not only in our program but statewide. The reality is that there are more children in foster care than foster homes," said Erin Axton Ryggs, the Clinical Supervisor for CFS’s Transitional Family Homes Program in Hilo.

The pandemic has slowed the recruitment of potential families. Some families were nervous about bringing new children into their home and some could not provide all-day supervision for distance learning, Ryggs said.

"Not only do we need more families, but we really need families who are committed to providing that stability and support that all children need," she said.

According to national statistics, Ryggs said about 50% of foster youth graduate high school and very few graduate from college. About 25% of foster youth will be homeless within two years, she said.

Ryggs wants potential families to know the nonprofit is there to answer any questions or concerns.

"We're open to all kinds of family structures, whether it's single adults, or couples with kids, couples without kids, same-sex couples — ultimately, we're looking for individuals and families that are open to welcome a child into their home and give that support, that stability that the child may need," Ryggs told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Anyone interested in more information can call 808-323-2664 or visit www.childandfamilyservice.org to find out more about the Transitional Family Home program, and a variety of other services that CFS provides.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 17, 2021.

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