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PIDF receives $100,000 to address adverse childhood experiences among Native Hawaiians

Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF) recently received a $100,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente, the state’s largest integrated, nonprofit health care organization. The funding, which will be distributed over two years, will go towards developing an individualized transition Plan of Care for youth in the juvenile justice system and their families. This program helps youth preparing to leave Ke Kama Pono, PIDF’s program for adjudicated youth, have a smooth transition, and gain the skills needed for long-term success and independent living.

PIDF is one of 13 organizations across the United States selected by Kaiser Permanente to receive grant support for its work focusing on ending the generational cycles of trauma caused by structural racism and injustice experienced by communities of color. This trauma often manifests in situations and actions that hurt children by causing adverse childhood experiences, known as ACEs, which have negative lifelong consequences for health and well-being.

PIDF serves the most at-risk communities in Hawaiʻi with a focus on Native Hawaiians, as they continue to be disproportionately represented in many negative statistics. The organization’s overall goal is to break the intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and equip participants with skills needed to achieve long-term success.

“We hope to see a more sustainable future for our youth who have faced traumatic experiences,” shared Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni, president and chief executive officer of Partners in Development Foundation. “This partnership will support our efforts to guide Hawaiʻi’s vulnerable youth down a new path that empowers them for transformational change. They need to know that we believe in them and that they are not alone.”

Original research by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1997 established that ACEs such as abuse, neglect and household dysfunction are associated with a long-lasting stress response that has been linked to risky health behaviors and chronic health conditions.

Evidence from subsequent studies shows that experiences such as discrimination, community violence, death of a parent or guardian, bullying, or separation from a primary caregiver may also lead to a harmful toxic stress response.

“Having these traumatic experiences at such a young age can set our keiki on a path for long-term health issues as adults,” said John Yang, MD, president and medical director of Hawaii Permanente Medical Group. “We’re encouraged by the work of organizations such as Partners in Development Foundation to help break this cycle and help improve the health of our communities in Hawaii.”