East Hawaii News

Non-Profit Group Rebrands as Hawai’i Children’s Action Network

November 12, 2015, 12:59 PM HST
* Updated November 12, 1:02 PM
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After two decades, Good Beginnings Alliance has morphed into the Hawai’i Children’s Action Network.

The non-profit group, one of the state’s leading groups for children, re-launched to achieve a broader goal of advocacy and community organizing, according to the group.

HCAN will place its focus on building grassroots support for children from housing, health care, quality childcare, and early education to other issues like family leave.

Highest priority is placed on children of families in poverty or who are living in communities with minimum resources.

“Community leaders came together almost 20 years ago to start Good Beginnings Alliance, developing and growing sorely needed early childhood services across our islands,” said Deborah Zysman, HCAN’s executive director. “They were pioneers, laying the groundwork for a new generation to help our kids get what they need to succeed.”

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GBA began in 1996 through Act 77 and coordinated and developed early childhood services throughout the state. Reorganization and a broadened mission following the 2010 act that led to HCAN.

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“This evolution of mobilizing families, businesses, nonprofits, and our leaders as a powerful voice for all our children has been phenomenal and I couldn’t be more optimistic about HCAN’s continuing that foundation,” said Elisabeth Chun, GBA executive director from 1997-2012.  “This is a most critical quality of life issue facing our state. Building a thriving economy with a qualified and capable workforce depends on helping our kids get what they need now.”

According to HCAN, Hawai’i data shows that organizations in support of children is necessary. During the 2015 summer, 2,200 children were homeless in Hawai’i, with one out of five children throughout the state living in poverty.

Thirty percent of parents lack secure employments, as more than 40 percent of children in Hawai’i live in households that have a high housing cost burden.

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The numbers reportedly show that nearly half of children don’t go to preschool, and that two-thirds of Hawai’i children don’t get basic health screenings for developmental delays.

One fourth of kids don’t always have enough to eat.

HCAN will focus its immediate goals on raising $300,000 and strengthening the statewide coalition. Health screenings, child homelessness, and efforts to join over 50 children’s groups, including think tank focused solutions, advocacy training, and a fellowship program for emerging leaders are among the items at the tops of the groups work list.

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