• January 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 1

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Maintaining Connections in Hawaii

Using a grant offered under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, EPIC 'Ohana and the Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS) studied and addressed family engagement and family conferencing. The result is a manual that describes the family engagement process in native terms as the agencies attempt to identify the "piko" (umbilical cord/attachment) and undo the "hihia" (knots) so that families can be attached and secure in their connections to one another.

The manual explains the influence of native Hawaiian values, the Maori of New Zealand family group decision-making process, and western mediation on 'Ohana conferencing that is used to engage immediate and extended family members in child welfare. The manual also describes in detail and provides examples for the following eight values child welfare professionals use when they engage families and service providers in making decisions with families:

  • Children have a right to know and be connected to their families.
  • Always treat others as you want to be treated.
  • Power works best when it's shared.
  • We are all agents of change.
  • It's also all about the children.
  • Promote informed decision-making, while focusing on strengths and solutions.
  • Be transparent and accountable.

EPIC 'Ohana and DHS have discovered integrating these values with the culture, values, and the wisdom of each family into the decision-making process is relevant to achieving the best outcomes for children and their families.

Maintaining Connections: The Values Behind Family Engagement Practices Within the Child Welfare System is available on Epic 'Ohana's website:

http://www.epicohana.info/resources/grant%20manual%20web.pdf (3 MB)

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