Children in foster care often come from difficult pasts and have uncertain futures. Lacking alternatives, they are dependent upon government agencies to provide them with crucial services. Such services are not only necessary to promote and safeguard the current health and well-being of these children, but also to ensure that they have adequate support to become well-adjusted, flourishing adults.
For several years, some children’s advocates in Hawai`i have claimed that a variety of services required by youth in foster care were not being properly provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Health (DOH). Hawaii Appleseed has been told that the provision of mental health services was an area in need of dramatic improvement. Recognizing the significant effect inadequate services would have on Hawai`i’s youth in foster car, Hawaii Appleseed decided to acquire more information on the provision of services with the goal of identifying systemic weaknesses.
In the creation of this report, Hawaii Appleseed contacted 26 community members possessing direct legal experience with and knowledge of youth in foster care and their ability to access and receive government services. This report is divided into four parts. Parts A and B summarize the results of these interviews. Part C discusses the negative impact of delayed and inadequate services on youth in foster care. Part D presents a brief discussion of the federal laws governing issues raised by interviewees and makes suggestions for further research.