Youth & Family Wellness Center is a puʻuhonua for our at-risk youth

>Nestled at the foot of Olomana in Maunawili in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua, is the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF). It is an unusually tranquil setting for a juvenile correctional center, but HYCF Administrator Mark Kawika Patterson sees it as a perfect puʻuhonua – a place of healing.

After nearly 100 years in Kailua, HYCF is undergoing a physical and spiritual transformation, rebranding itself to become the Kawailoa Youth and Family Wellness Center and to realize a new vision for Hawaiʻi’s juvenile justice system.

With decades of experience in corrections, Patterson was troubled by the fact that Hawaiʻi’s prisons were filled with Hawaiians, almost all of whom had a history of family trauma.

“Nearly all of the kids who end up at HYCF have experienced trauma in their homes due to poverty, houselessness, abuse and victimization, as well as drug addiction and mental health issues. By affording them support and a real opportunity to succeed, we can prevent them from ending up in the adult criminal justice system,” Patterson explained

Patterson and the Office of Youth Services are promoting a 2021 bill that would allow Kawailoa to engage in economic enterprise, selling its high-quality, locally and sustainably produced beef to the local market and reinvest profits in its business model.This will enable youth to learn business management and gain practical and marketable job skills, while receiving professional mentorship, supportive services, and a living wage.