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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Finding foster care to match children

By Sarah T. Casken
Executive Director of the Hawai'i Foster Parent Association

The Hawai'i Foster Parent Association, an independent, nonprofit organization, has noted with interest the discussion regarding the desire to place children needing foster care into a home of their religious faith — specifically, placing Muslim children in a Muslim home.

The Department of Human Services is mandated to assure that foster parents provide for a child's well-being and safety. To look beyond this minimum requirement in the hopes of matching a child's religious, ethnic, social or cultural background often seems a luxury. Not only are there too few foster parents to select from, there often is not the time available to do such thoughtful matching.

Indeed, to find a foster home that provides for the safety and well-being of that child, while also matching the child's religious, ethnic, linguistic, social and cultural needs, is probably impossible.

The Hawai'i Foster Parent Association is committed to providing training and support of foster parents to help them meet the needs of the children in their homes beyond "three hots and a cot." This training and support cannot fully compensate for the ideal placement, but it does strive to help the foster parent address the child's educational, cultural, behavioral, religious and social needs.

We welcome community input to help us address and provide training in these specific issues. Community members with suggestions and knowledge are invited to call the Hawai'i Foster Parent Association at 263-0920.

We also encourage caring, capable people in the community from all economic strata, social, cultural and religious groups to open their hearts and homes to foster children and go through the process of becoming licensed. In addition to becoming a foster parent, help can also be provided by becoming a volunteer guardian ad litem or a Project Visitation volunteer.

As an Advertiser editorial said, "None of the adults ... wants anything but the best for these children. But rather than simply wanting it, they should make it happen." If we want to see quality foster care in our state, the community must step to the plate, overcome any hurdles and do what is needed for children.

If these children are not adequately cared for, our community, as well as these children, will suffer.