As Family Support Hawaii (FSH) enters its 43rd year providing the highest quality programs for children and families, we want to thank our donors, volunteers, families, and staff for your continued support of our mission “to support families and communities in providing love and care for our children.” We know that the work we do and have done could not have happened without your generous donations of funds, volunteer time, material goods, and many times, your emotional support. You are there in spirit when we serve families, and we know they are grateful for all your contributions. Our fall campaign is key to completing our financial commitments to funders and families, and we ask you to continue your financial support, which will go directly to improving the lives of children and their families in West Hawaii through the programs we have featured in this fall newsletter.
The effects of Covid-19 have challenged us to develop new and effective strategies to stay connected to the families we serve. We are proud that we have been successful in maintaining services with minimal interruptions. Technology has aided us as we continue our commitment to follow all CDC recommendations while maintaining all our program services.
However, the one area of agency operations we have not been able to continue through the Covid-19 pandemic has been our community fundraising events. FSH relies on fundraisers together with donations to continue our vital work, but we have been unable to hold our events, such as the highly successful annual Serve It Forward Tennis Tournament. Fundraisers held by others to benefit FSH, including the Wahine Fishing Tournament, have had to be cancelled. So NOW more than ever we need your continued support.
It is the collective effort that has kept our doors open and given us the continued drive to serve families. We are guided by our hard-working Board of Directors who give their time to keep us on track and fiscally sound. Program volunteers help us extend our hand to those we could not otherwise reach due to funding limitations. They provide support in our office so staff can be in the field, they attend activities so more children can participate, and contribute in more ways that can be listed here. These “branches” of our tree are an integral piece of our present and on-going accomplishments, and we are grateful for your support.
Family Support Hawai’i will be closing out the year 2021 with a continued commitment to those we serve and optimism in looking forward to what we can accomplish together in 2022.
Please remember us on
Ray Wofford, LMSW, MBA
Early Head Start
Early Head Start (EHS) provides early childhood development and family engagement through center-based and home visiting services in West Hawaii. Despite the operational challenges of delivering services during the world-wide pandemic, our staff responded with innovative ways to safely adapt services to meet the needs of families in our community. During Hawaii’s statewide lockdown, the program continued to deliver services virtually via phone and video conferencing solutions, while at the same time addressing food security by partnering with local farmers and churches to deliver fresh produce to families in isolated rural areas.
Family Support Hawaii’s Greenwell Family Child Development Center in Kealakekua was able to remain open during the pandemic, helping to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine for those children and their families. When possible, program staff were able to conduct visits with families outside using social distancing and other safety measures to continue delivering services in the child’s natural environment. As we move forward, the program is preparing for a return to in home visits which will be a welcome change for both families and staff who miss the more personal engagement.
We want to thank our staff for their resiliency and adaptability and modeling those skills for the families they work with. We would also like to thank all our community partners who stepped up to the challenge and collaborated with our program to ensure we can deliver uninterrupted services to our community in its time of need. Without that support, it would have been difficult to have the successes that we did amongst all the challenges we’ve faced over the course of this pandemic. To all of our community partners, friends, donors, volunteers, and supporters, we thank you. Let’s keep fulfilling that mission together.
Home Visiting Services
Home Visiting Services (HVS) has new expanded services. HVS has just adopted the Parents as Teachers (PAT) curriculum, an evidence-based early childhood home visiting model that provides services to pregnant women and families with children from birth through kindergarten. HVS previously served families with children only up to the age of three and for only one year, but now we are able to serve children to age five and for a period of at least two years. Our referral sources remain Child Welfare Services, Voluntary Case Management, and Family Strengthening Services. Home Visiting Services continues to work closely with our referral sources to support families throughout West Hawaii.
Early intervention services (EIS) are crucial for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or who are at risk for delays. Medical conditions and/or early trauma or negative experiences can adversely impact a child’s development, and the earlier we can identify these issues and connect a child to services, the better the outcome is for children and their families. However, the coronavirus pandemic has added many challenges for the delivery of timely, high-quality services for families.
Fortunately, working closely with the Hawaii Department of Health Early Intervention Section, we have been able to adapt and be flexible with families. We have provided virtual platforms that maintain privacy and security while supporting families as they continue to work with the Early Intervention team and their child. Our team of qualified therapists have been able to continue to provide ongoing support as well as evaluations/assessments as needed via tele-practice.
Equity and access to services is a priority to us as we continue to engage families. Covid has made this challenging as it became apparent that not all families had equal access to technology, and sometimes had no access at all in certain rural areas of the Big Island. We constantly had to adjust and be creative in how we could engage a family who needed our support in a meaningful way. We are grateful for the community resources that were offered and provided to families during this most difficult of times and look forward to a brighter future for our programs and the families we serve.
EIS has now returned to in-person visits (with restrictions and safe-practices in place) to ensure safety for the staff and the families served.
According to the US Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children live without a father. Children growing up without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home are at greater risk of poverty, obesity, behavior problems, dropping out of high school, drug abuse and other negative outcomes. Research shows that fathers are just as important to a child’s emotional, psychological, and physical well-being as mothers. The Fatherhood Initiative is focused on engaging fathers with their children and significant others. The program brings fathers together to share with each other their stories and provide peer support. Fathers learn techniques to cope with stress, relationships, and conflict. Many fathers came into the program at risk of losing visitation rights with their children. They felt alone and believed that the system was working against them. With the support of their peers, they were able to understand and navigate the requirements of family court and develop positive relationships with the mothers of their children, allowing them the opportunity to be a regular part of their children’s lives.
If you would like to be a part of one of our monthly groups, or act as a mentor for a father in need, please contact Ben Huss, Program Director at 808-640-9550 or email email@example.com.