Connecting Siblings Separated by Foster Care
Although the State tries to place siblings together in foster care, many end up separated in different homes with different Resource Caregivers and their families. Losing contact with one another can place a strain on a very crucial time in their lives. Thus, the State of Hawaii First Circuit Family Court and the Hawaii State Department of Human Services (DHS) created Project Visitation.
Dr. Joy Riach, PsyD
Dr. Kylie Uratsuka, PsyD
Average number of online sibling visits annually during the pandemic
Referred families are offered sibling visits
Sponsored online events per year to connect siblings
By bringing siblings together in a fun and safe environment, Project Visitation volunteers give children the opportunity to create family memories they otherwise would not have in their lives. Project Visitation teaches kids the importance of maintaining healthy sibling relationships and seeks to minimize the trauma of family separation through visitations.
Due to the pandemic, 2021 saw the majority of sibling visitations going online through tablets and Zoom meetings. Although the year started off with virtual events, the first in-person event since 2020 was finally held on December 21st at the Project Visitation Holiday Event. Organized at the Family Programs Hawaii Family Strengthening Center in Manoa, a holiday party was put together and included glow putt-putt, carnival games with prizes (with everyone being a winner), lunch, and decorated gingerbread cookies. Besides seeing one another face-to-face, the event’s culmination was that every child and youth in attendance received two gifts from Santa! A total of 14 siblings participated in this happy occasion. Memories made were captured in framed photographs of each sibling group. Mahalo nui loa to HI H.O.P.E.S. for their sponsorship of this festive activity!
Project Visitation looks forward to more in-person opportunities, such as in-person visits to the beach, parks, and playgrounds and events to enjoy the island together with the comfort of your sibling(s).
• Working with the Hawaii State Department of Health Services to receive referrals of separated siblings in the Hawaii Foster Care System.
• Informational meetings with all resource parents prior to starting program
• Matching of volunteers with participating families
• Assistance with coordinating visits as needed
• Distribution of visitation reports to social worker and GAL after each visit
• Collaborating with community organizations to provide 5 annual events and activities for sibling groups to attend, which includes our annual 3-day Camp Connection
• Monthly visits
• Sibling photo album
-child formerly in foster care, Hoomalu O Na Kamalii