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Helping At-Risk Youth During a Global Health Crisis

“Two months ago, placing a child in a foster home wasn’t a problem. Now it’s nearly impossible,” says Child/Adult Protective Services Specialist Kalani Motta. “Yesterday, I had to move children from one foster home to another, and I had to interact with the foster parents, so I physically had to go into their home. But I’m not provided with personal protective equipment or anything, so it’s scary. We come into contact with so many people, so we just gotta go in and hope we don’t get sick.”

One of Motta’s primary duties as a case manager with the Department of Human Services in Hilo is to find foster homes for children in East Hawaii. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, he’s been classified as an essential employee, and although he was given the option to work from home during the crisis, the nature of his job doesn’t allow for it. “Certain parts of this job, there’s no way you can work from home,” he says. “When we respond to calls of concern, we have to go out and physically locate the family. The only way we can help these children is if we get out there and do it in person. It can’t be done remotely.”

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