Organizational History

Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i Inc., is a private, non-profit organization incorporated in 1975, whose mission is UEmbracing the children and youth entrusted to our care.” We provide residential and community programs for education, prevention, diversion and treatment. Services are dedicated to improving quality of life, enhancing a sense of belonging, increasing self-awareness and strengthening ohana.

In 1970 the Secure Custody Committee, established by the Family Court of the First Circuit concluded that: “there is a desperate need of temporary and permanent shelter. The current available space for placement, both temporary and long-term, is inadequate for the number of children needing help.n

In 1972, Family Court received an LEAA (Law Enforcement Administrative Agency) Grant to recruit, train and evaluate career foster parents. This was an attempt to provide suitable home.s for those children with a composite of problems from abuse and neglect, educational deficiencies, drug and alcohol involvement, and whose response to these problems was truancy, running away or illegal behavior. Several factors led to the demise of this project. Although initially willing, foster parents eventually became overwhelmed by the complexity of the problems and the emotional strain they faced every day. Recruitment was difficult in view of the biases formed about the “type” of children Family Court wished to place.

In 1974, from this need and one man’s vision, emerged Hale Hanau Hou Boys Home of Kaua’i, Inc. Bill Cashion, along with Michael Sheehan, Will Welsh, Ruth Smith, Albert Stiglmeier, Walter Briant, James Cribley, Jean Holmes, George Masuoka, Thomas Matsuoka,  Charlotte Nurock, Arnold Nurock, Warren Topp, Howard Carvalho, and Roland Gay helped to make the dream a reality.

In 1975 the name was changed to Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Inc, and with the assistance and support of Mr. Jack Nagoshi, Director, Center for Youth Research, University of Hawai’i, the Therapeutic Living Program continued to evolve. Services are now provided to 12 boys and girls, ages 12-17 in one of two homes located on the island. Teams of Resident Counselors, on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, work with six youth in each home. Youth participate in weekly individual and family therapy provided by the agency therapist. They attend public school with daily on-campus support and monitoring provided by Hale ‘Opio’s School Liaisons. Unique to Hale ‘Opio is a very successful Fine Arts program which includes instruction in ceramics, photography and other media, along with instruction in selected aspects of Hawaiian culture such as canoe paddling.

In 1976 Emergency Shelter Services were made available to DHS and the Judiciary for girts and boys, ages 0-21, who were in need of sanctuary and crisis stabilization counseling.

In October 1979, Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Inc. moved from the old Wilcox House in Lihu’e  and under license from the U. S. Coast Guard, moved into the deactivated Loran Station in Poipu, Kaua’i. At the same time Hale ‘Opio formally advised the Director of Real Property, U. s. General Services Administration of its desire to obtain this surplus property.

In 1980 Hale ‘Opio began the process of establishing our eligibility to receive surplus Federal real property for its use. The property was known as the Loran Station at Makahuena Point Light. Property formerly used by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In 1985 Governor George R. Ariyoshi authorized the Department of Social Services’ Franklin Sunn and the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Susumo Ono, to accept the property on behalf of the state of Hawai’i so that it could continue to be utilized by Hale ‘Opio.

In 1987, then Governor John Waihee, notified GSA that he shared former Governor Ariyoshi’s commitment for the continued use of the property by Hale ‘Opio. During the same year Senator Inouye intervened on our behalf and began working closely with the State Of Hawai’i and the U.S. General Services Administration to arrive at a suitable housing solution for Hale ‘Opio.

In August 1988 the property was determined to be surplus property and the U. S. General Services Administration was adamant that the property was to be disposed of through public auction. During the same year GSA asked Senator Inouye and the State for assistance in relocating Hale ‘Opio and thereby allowing GSA to sell the land at Makahuena. GSA offered the State 90 acres of federal surplus land on Oahu at a no-cost basis in exchange for their help.

In 1989, due largely to Senator lnouye’s diligence and courage, legislation was introduced to the U.S. Congress whereby a $1.5M allocation was made available to Hale ‘Opio for the relocation of its facility to alternate sites to be provided by the State. The Senator never gave up on us and continued to support us even during an election year when it may not have served his best interest.

In June 1990, in consultation with Ira Schwartz, Dean, School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania (currently the Provost with Temple University), and with the on-site consultation from Russ Van Vleet, Director, Social Research Institute, University of Utah, a ten member Community Advisory Task Force was formed to serve as an Advisory Committee to the Board of Directors in assisting with the relocation of the 15 bed residential facility in Poipu. Nearly two years were invested in this effort, and more than 50 sites were reviewed. The process was long and arduous and not without emotion. Undaunted, we continued our march, and on July 1993 we moved into the first of two homes.

In 1986 Hale ‘Opio was subcontracted by Kapiolani Women’s and Children’s Center to bring Multidisciplinary Team Services to Kaua’i.

In 1990 Hale ‘Opio contracted with Catholic Services to Families and The Institute for Family Enrichment, both Oahu agencies, to assist us in developing and implementing a Therapeutic Foster Home Program and Homebased Services on Kaua’i.

In 1993 Hale ‘Opio in collaboration with the Hawai’i State Student Council, Sprint Hawai’i and the Hawai’i Youth Services Network, Kaua’i YWCA, Kaua’i Boys & Girls Club and Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center brought Teen Line to Kaua’i. Taped phone messages on a variety of important topics are made available to our young people.

Again in 1993 Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Inc., in partnership with G. N. Wilcox Health Services, Kaua’i Medical Clinic, Kaua’i Community College, the Departments of Education and Health began providing collaborative and comprehensive School-based Health Services on campus at a local high school.

In 1996 the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division of the Department of Health contracted with Hale ‘Opio to provide Therapeutic Aide Services. Services are designed to facilitate the development of youth’s skills, parenting skills, and to provide a linkage to community support. Aides model networking, behavior management, communication and other skills that lead to the parents’ ability to better manage their special needs children.

In 1997 in partnership with the Departments of Health & Education, as part of Kaua’i’s mental health services system for children and adolescents, Hale ‘Opio developed an urgency response system of safe-beds in foster home settings for youth who have been assessed to be in a stressful traumatic situation which requires immediate intervention but not hospitalization.

Again in 1997, Hale ‘Opio, in collaborative effort between the Kaua’i Police Department, Family Court Fifth Circuit, Kaua’i County Prosecutor’s Office developed the Kaua’i Teen Court.  Practicing judges and attorneys, youth serving public and private sector agencies assist in providing a diversionary program for first time misdemeanor or status offending youth between the ages of 10-17. Juveniles who have admitted guilt and are prepared to be sentenced by their peers will be given a hearing.

In 1999 Hale Kipa, an Oahu based agency, contracted with Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Inc. to implement Hawai’i Advocates for Youth, a locally-adapted, nationwide program, serving youth who are returning to Kaua’i from the Hawai’i Youth Correctional Facility by providing a blend of individualized, in-home and community-based services that facilitate the youth’s successful integration in the community.

In 2001, Victim Impact Classes were implemented. Youth on probation are taught the principles of restorative justice, emphasizing the ways in which crime hurts relationships between people who live in a community. The probationer is taught to be accountable to those that he or she has harmed. Group learning and victim testimonials are core elements of the classes aimed at changing attitudes.

In 2003 in partnership with the Family Court of the Fifth Circuit, youthful offenders selected by the Court participate in a Restorative Justice Program. This group conflict resolution process focuses on repairing relationships when offenders admit wrongdoing. The conference provides the opportunity for the victim to explain how they were harmed and ask questions of the offender. The conference ends with a reparation agreement. A follow-up conference determines whether the plan was carried out and strengthens learning to prevent re-offending.

Returning to 1999, Hale ‘Opio (HOK) was accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, Inc. (COA), a nationally recognized body attesting to Hale ‘Opio’s high standards of practice in administration and program.  HOK continues to be re-accredited every four years.

Throughout the 2000-2010 decade, HOK expanded and contracted with the shift in public policy driven by the Felix Consent Decree, a class-action lawsuit which found the state violating disabled students right of access to a free, appropriate public education, involving the Departments of Education (DOE) and Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division (DOH-CAMHD). This court action created an array of school-based, community-based, and residential services which included Hale ‘Opio being licensed as a Special Treatment Facility to offer Therapeutic Group Home services, while continuing Therapeutic Foster Home services and residential services for the Office of Youth Services and the Judiciary. The DOH performance-based contracts required credentialed staff utilizing evidence-based treatment modalities for specific diagnoses and provided significant training and support for professional development of services statewide. A therapeutic gardening component was added to residential services and a second-tier assessment and case management program was added to our diversion programs.

With the close of the lawsuit in 2007 and the resulting shift in state funding priorities, DOH-CAMHD began to close Therapeutic Group Homes statewide. Concurrently, the Department of Human Services first federal review found Hawaii in need of substantial improvement in placing young people with family while strengthening services to prevent their removal in the first place.

Hale ‘Opio suspended the Therapeutic Group Home contract in October 2009 while continuing Therapeutic Foster Homes, now named Transitional Family Homes. HOK licensed our Lawai and Kapahi homes as group foster homes and continued to provide residential treatment for three state agencies with Professional Parents as staff. For a three year period our Professional Parents also participated in a federal demonstration project providing shelter services in a host home model.

Since 2009, Hale ‘Opio developed core elements of our residential services as stand-alone community education and skills development programs through grant-writing, fundraising, collaborations, and the competitive RFP process. In cooperation with the DOE, our school liaisons are working within designated schools with students identified by administration as disconnected from the academic and social process; youth are failing, make poor health choices, and are isolated. Another in-school program targets truancy prevention and intervention, focusing on strengthening the family’s commitment to their child’s education while giving the student the tools necessary to learn in school.

Building cultural practice, developing teamwork, expanding future options, solidifying decision-making and other personal and interpersonal skills, a series of positive youth development programs utilizing evidence-based prevention curricula are offered during and after school around the island:

  • Ke Kahua O Ka Malamalama brings young people into relationship with cultural practitioners to learn and practice host culture values to regain their sustainable, healthy lifestyle. Youth capture their experiences via traditional and digital media to share with the community.
  • Street Smart is an HIV and substance abuse prevention curriculum adapted for Asian and Pacific Island young women. Increased self-efficacy, decreased substance use, and strengthened peer relationships for positive decision-making are results.
  • Positive Action is a nationally acclaimed, locally trialed, character development program that prevents underage drinking and bullying while improving grades.
  • Teen Dating Violence Prevention teaches healthy communication and decision-making while learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, the effect of domestic violence on development, and futures planning resources.
  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention is taught using two national curricula – Making a Difference is abstinence only and on the Hawaii DOE approved list, and Making Proud Choices is comprehensive sexual health information, proven to delay initiation of sexual activity and reduce the teen pregnancy rate in communities.
  • Mother-Daughter Circles, “The Heart of the Matter” is a series of small group sessions that teach communication, conflict resolution and negotiation while a series of activities surface issues, develop understanding, and promote bonding.
  • The Kaua’i Chapter of the Hawaii Foster Youth Coalition is a peer-led group of current and former foster youth supported by an adult counselor who work together to empower foster youth, enact legislation affecting their future, and contribute to the community in service activities.

In 2010 the First Jobs Academy began teaching current and former foster youth, youth in the mental health and juvenile justice systems and other disconnected youth, work readiness and independent  living skills while training employers as “business mentors” to  work with youth.

In 2012, the Hawaii Youth Opportunities Initiative added to the financial literacy skills taught in the First Jobs Academy, and offers matches for each literacy graduate’s savings up to $3000 for tangible asset purchases while encouraging saving. HYOI developed a powerful advocacy youth voice, the HI H.O.P.E.S. Board, a statewide youth leadership team, and a community leadership team, the Community Partnership Hui, that facilitates connections in critical self-sufficiency areas of housing, finance, employment, education, health, permanent connections, among others.  The HYOI continues to work with youth affected by foster care between the ages of 14 and 26 to build financial literacy skills, educate the  public about federal and state initiatives aimed at supporting youth affected by foster care, and, through Y.E.S.!, designed to build positive peer relationships among youth affected by foster care through regularly scheduled healthy, fun, normalizing activities. These programs are conducted in partnership with EPIC, INC. and Family Programs Hawaii.

Keiki to Career Kaua’i, modeled on The Forum for Youth Investment’s national movement “Ready by 21”, is a community-wide effort to improve the odds for all young people on Kaua’i. Using education as the core change element, wrapped by the family strengthening and youth development services of non-profit programs including Hale ‘Opio, and supported by all other community  sectors, K2CK aims to transform the futures of our keiki through collective actions.

Foster Youth Institute was a demonstration project with five states who were piloting evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention curriculum adapted specifically for foster youth. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and STI, and the American Human Services Public Administration are spear-heading the initiative using Making Proud Choices, developed and adapted by physicians at the University of Pennsylvania. When the demonstration results are incorporated into the curriculum and training of its facilitators, it will be a required component in all Independent Living Programs using federal funding for foster youth nationwide.

Connecting for Success continues the work Hale ‘Opio has been doing in partnership with Waimea Canyon Middle School (WCMS} to assist students “off track” in attendance, behavior, and grades, according to DOE data, to get “on track”. CFS is an evaluation project funded by the Hawaii Community Foundation to determine which evidence-based interventions have the most positive results with Hawaii students and their families. Providing targeted instruction and tutoring, positive engagement opportunities with peers and families, experiences with various career paths through field trips and classroom speakers, and support for remaining in school, rather than utilizing out-of­ school suspension, CFS is demonstrating significant improvement in students, including the WCMS and HOK collaboration experiencing the most improved attendance of the eight remaining schools in the study cohort.

Recognizing the hurdles youth who exit foster care at the age of 18 faces, Hale ‘Opio piloted a new state program of voluntary case management named Imua Kakou. Now the Department of Human Services (DHS) has invested further in foster youth futures by contracting EPIC, Inc. for Independent Living Collaborator Services to coordinate and train organizations statewide in providing supports, skills, and opportunities necessary for normal development of youth affected by foster care. A second procurement consolidated Imua Kakou with the Independent Living Skills and Higher Education state contracts with services to begin in January 2017. This program of Hale ‘Opio, titled ‘IHI works with current and former foster youth ages 12 – 26 years providing assessment, case management, activities, skills, education supports, including higher education funding, and more. Two case managers partner with a former foster youth on staff to change the trajectory of youth in foster care and to educate the community, including foster parents, on their needs and rights.