Pagay ‘Ohana on Maui Fosters 15 Children
* Updated April 20, 5:05 PM
Hawaiʻi nonprofit Partners in Development Foundation’s Hui Hoʻomalu Foster Care Services program celebrates National Foster Care Awareness Month in May with the success story of the Pagay ʻohana, who have fostered 15 children since 2015, adopted one child, and have three of their own children.
On any given day in Hawaiʻi, there are approximately 1,500 children in foster care. Duane Pagay was one of them.
The nonprofit reports that Duane was in and out of the foster care system from kindergarten and in the sixth grade he was reunified with his parents— but his life “took a turn for the worse.” According to Partners in Development, “Duane grew up in an environment where dealing drugs was a respectable trade; he fell victim to using and selling drugs, street crime, ended up in prison, and even attempted suicide.”
The nonprofit reports that foster youth are at a higher risk for homelessness, sex exploitation, drug and alcohol abuse, and incarceration.
“Despite all odds, Duane decided to reevaluate his life and set some goals. It was during this transition that he met Jonahlyn (Lyn) and became a family,” according to the nonprofit. When an opportunity arose to foster a newborn in their family, they did so for a relative in need.
After successfully reunifying their first foster child with their parents in 2015, Duane and Lyn worked with the state and underwent extensive home studies and background checks to switch their child-specific license to a general fostering license to show children in foster care that “They are wanted. They are loved. They are not mistakes in this world.”
While fostering children and working full-time jobs can be challenging, the Pagay’s expressed that the benefits are not one-sided. For Duane, he gets to tell his children “all the good stuff” he never heard as a child. Fostering allows him to continue “growing as a father, as a man, as a husband, as a guidance teacher… and getting these kids back to their own happy place as well as my own.”
For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, Hui Hoʻomalu recruited 55 resource caregivers to temporarily take care of children in foster care. During the month of May, Hui Hoʻomalu will host a statewide virtual information session and giveaways, and share more data and experiences on foster care in Hawaiʻi.
For more information, visit pidf.org/huihoomalu or call (808) 441-1117.