HUGS’ mission is to strengthen Hawaii families and improve their quality of life as they face the emotional and financial hardships of caring for a seriously ill child.

HUGS provides long-term, comprehensive support to families with a child from birth to 21 years old, who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or condition. We assist families through their medical journey from the time of diagnosis through treatment and beyond – a difficult journey that may last two years or a lifetime.

We rely on and are grateful for the referrals that come from our partnerships with hospitals and other service providers.

Who should be referred to hugs?

Any family with a child who has a life-threatening illness may be referred to HUGS. Illnesses or conditions include, but are not limited to: cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart issues, liver and kidney diseases, and chromosomal or congenital defects. Download the full list of HUGS’ Accepted Diagnoses. Before acceptance to HUGS, the child’s physician must verify the child’s diagnosis.

Download a HUGS Family Application Form for families.  

HUGS provides a range of programs and services at no cost to HUGS families. These include:

  • Supportive hospital visits

  • Respite services

  • Peer support group activities

  • Family events

  • Food baskets

  • Case management including referrals to community resources

  • Financial assistance: emergency airfare, funeral expenses, and stipends for Neighbor Island families

airfare assistance

Airfare assistance is available to families when a child needs medical treatments or procedures on Oahu or the mainland. Assistance is based on available funding; the maximum amount a family can receive is four legs of flight per year (two round-trip tickets or four one-way tickets). Payments are made by HUGS directly to the airline. Download the Airfare Assistance Referral Form.

funeral assistance

Funeral assistance, up to $500, is offered to help HUGS families with funeral, cremation, burial, or celebration of life expenses following the loss of their child. Payments are made directly to the mortuary. Download the Funeral Assistance Form.

Sammy’s Keiki Aloha Fund for Neighbor Island Families

Through Sammy’s Keiki Aloha Fund, a one-time stipend for daily living expenses is available for neighbor island families during their child’s hospitalization on Oahu. Read more about Sammy’s Keiki Aloha Fund or download the Sammy’s Keiki Aloha Fund Referral Form.


"When your life as you know it ceases to exist, and you are thrust into the unwelcomed, forced education of a severely ill child, and a group can come to your family's rescue in big and small ways...that's HUGS."
— Jan & Rick Waiolama