EPIC’s E Makua Ana Youth Circle Program
serves current and former foster youth in Hawai‘i who are transitioning out of the foster care system, into adulthood. The program provides a group process for youth to celebrate their emancipation from foster care and to assist them in planning for their independence.
Youth Circles build upon the philosophy and skills enriched through years of engaging families in ‘Ohana Conferences. Culturally sensitive, youth centered, and strengths based, Youth Circles bring together family and community support to increase social capital and develop a network of support from individualized, outcome-driven Transition Plans for the future.
The E Makua Ana Youth Circle program was conceptualized in 2003 after John Bratihwaite, an Australian law professor
who works in restorative justice, sent Lorenn Walker, J.D., M.P.H., a paper about San Jose California’s Emancipation Conferences. In early 2004 Walker worked with EPIC to develop the process for Hawai‘i youth. DHS’ independent living section, the Office of Youth Services (OYS), the Foster Youth Coalition, EPIC and Walker collaborated on the needs of Hawai‘i foster youth and on the most effective design for the process. Walker also obtained expert assistance from Kay Wright a master facilitator from San Jose, California in developing the process. Insoo Kim Berg, co-creator of solution-focused brief therapy, also contributed to the Circle’s development. In April 2004 the Youth Circle program was adopted by DHS as a federally required intervention for independent living services for youth aging out of the system.