In Hawai’i, young Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system. As a vulnerable population, they encounter setbacks that are indicative of systemic failures and generational challenges, including foster care, substance abuse, human trafficking and loss of loved ones. The Opportunity Youth Action Hawaiʻi collaborative, representing community-based and state entities (Partners in Development Foundation and its Kupa ʻAina Farm, Kinai ʻEha, Hale Lanipōlua, Residential Youth Services & Empowerment, Hawaiʻi Youth and Correctional Facility, Olomana School) at the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center is committed to replacing youth incarceration with a Native Hawaiian restorative system that empowers communities, trains youth healers, and shifts resources to community-driven and culturally-grounded sanctuaries of support.
Partners In Development Foundation
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The last year has been an exciting and productive one at Kawailoa: 325 youth were engaged in healing and wellbeing through Kawailoa services, two diversion pathways were established towards cultural alternatives, and 70 youth were diverted through positive pathways out of justice system involvement. Three new programs were created and expanded, including a culturally responsive job readiness program, a summer internship program, and expanded affordable residential housing options for young adults 18-24 years old. Five key bills related to equitable justice reform were passed in the 2023 Hawai‘i legislature, 15 new partnerships were activated, and 24 emerging leaders were trained in cultural curriculum, learning, and applying kupuna ‘ike (wisdom) to guide system transformation. Over 25 organizations and institutions have engaged in learning with Kawailoa this year, representing both local communities in Hawaii and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color from the Continental United States and other countries. In addition to these organized exchanges, smaller groups and informal visitors have also come to the campus to learn, totaling over 300 unique individuals this year. Additionally, 15 formal learning exchanges were hosted at Kawailoa. Kawailoa's commitment remains to see transformative change in order to create a better world for our youth.