Hawai‘i to Receive $1 Million in Federal Funding for Preschool Programs

January 23, 2019, 6:06 PM HST (Updated January 23, 2019, 6:06 PM)
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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono reports that Hawai‘i will receive nearly $1 million in continued support under the federal Preschool Development Grant program. This funding will support ongoing efforts to promote and improve the quality of early learning opportunities for children by better connecting and aligning existing programs and services throughout the state.

“This grant will help to improve high-quality early learning programs across Hawai‘i through a needs assessment and strategic plan that will build on existing plans in the state,” Sen.  Hirono said. “With this additional funding, we will continue to support our keiki’s health, safety, and readiness to learn, from the time they are born until they are five years old, which is a critical time in their lives. I will continue to advocate for federal resources that promote affordable, high-quality early childhood programs for Hawai‘i.”

“We truly appreciate the recognition that services which support a child’s well-being and health, beyond prekindergarten and beginning in the womb into their elementary years, must work hand-in-hand to make a difference in a child’s life,” Lauren Moriguchi, director of the Hawai‘i Executive Office on Early Learning, said. “We are grateful for this opportunity to work toward Hawai‘i’s vision of a strong infrastructure for a coordinated system that addresses equitable access to, and transitions between, high-quality programs and services for all children birth through five statewide and especially our most vulnerable, to support their health, safety, and readiness for lifelong learning. The Executive Office on Early Learning looks forward to working closely with the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services and the wide range of public and private stakeholders to build this better system for our children, our families, and our future.”

Sen. Hirono played an important role in securing robust funding for the Preschool Development Grant program that was recently reauthorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015. In April 2018, Sen. Hirono led the charge with Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), to urge the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education to fully fund the Preschool Development Grant program and several other childhood education initiatives such as Head Start, Early Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

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In Nov. 2018, Sen. Hirono, along with the rest of the Hawai‘i delegation, led a letter of support on behalf of the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to advocate for additional grant funding through the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five program. In the letter, the delegation advocated for funding to assist Hawai‘i’s plans to provide new and improve existing programing and services for children from birth to age five.

As a nationally recognized leader on early childhood and child care issues, Sen. Hirono is a staunch supporter of early childhood programs for Hawai‘i’s children and families. Sen. Hirono has consistently advocated for and supported legislation related to education and child care, and during the 115th Congress (2017-2018) introduced legislation with Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) that would expand access to affordable child care for families, promote universal access to high-quality preschool programs for three- and four-year-olds, and support the early child care workforce. Previously, as Hawai‘i’s Lieutenant Governor, she started Pre-Plus, which established public preschool classrooms on elementary school campuses in the state.

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