Save the Foster Children of East Hawaiʻi

Save the Foster Children of East Hawaiʻi

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Kiani Dayton started this petition to State Senator Russell E. Ruderman and

9-year-old, Shaelynn Lehano-Stone who was killed by starvation, 3-year-old, Fabian Garett-Garcia died from non-accidental head trauma, the list goes on and on. These names are the children who suffered in the foster care system. When these tragic events occur, many people look towards case workers wondering how they could have let this happen? But the truth is there was nothing they could have done.

In a report done by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in 2017 shows that Hawaiʻi island is leading in second for the most abused and neglected kids in the state. Pulled from a testimony, Pankaj Bhanot, director of DHS stated “the total number of children in foster care statewide has increased 23% from State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2014 to SFY 2017. The highest increase has been in the East Hawaiʻi section, where we have seen a 56% increase of children in foster care over that same period.”

Due to the substantial amount of foster children in the system, it’s hard to keep track of everyone. The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) recommends that social workers take on no more than 12 active cases per month. East Hawaiʻi workers usually have 19-20 cases which averages out to 40-50 kids. With this amount of work, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with regular check-ups with children to make sure that they’re basic necessities are being met.

Although steps have been taken to solve the issue of lacking numbers of caseworkers, there’s is much more to be done. There was a bill that proposed to put a cap at 20 cases per worker in Hawaii. The request was declined due to a limited budget and instead, another bill was passed to add 4 more workers to the pay role to lessen the caseloads. The attempt is appreciated but children are dying, and studies have shown that the confirmation rate for abused and neglected children in just East Hawaiʻi is at 40% as of 2016.

A solution would be to have the Senate committees put their heads together. A report done by The National Alliance to End Homelessness revealed that 50% of homeless people have spent time in the foster care system.  In addition to this, the Juvenile Law Center claims that 90% of youth in America with 5 or more foster placements will enter the justice system. All committees should work together to create a budget that can support the payroll of however many caseworkers it takes to keep a cap of 20 cases per month.

There’s nothing more powerful than coming together to protect the children of our future. Imagine that these were your kids, how much would you be willing to sacrifice to ensure their safety?

Sign this petition to make a difference.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!