Local Advocates Rally at Hawai‘i Capitol for Early Childhood Day
Led by Hawaii Children’s Action Network, leaders in early childhood, parents and advocates gathered at the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at 10 a.m. to rally in support of Early Childhood Day at the Capitol and bills that make childcare, early learning and paid family leave accessible and affordable to all of Hawai‘i’s families.
Dean Wong, executive director of IMUA Family Services and HCAN board president, welcomed more than 150 children from local area preschools, parents and advocates by emphasizing the need to invest in our keiki and their families in their first five years.
“Where is our aloha?” Wong asked the audience. “Why, if we are the state of aloha, if we are the state of o‘hana—why are so many of our children left behind?”
Local working families struggle to find adequate childcare. Hawai‘i can only meet 24% of the need for DHS-regulated childcare slots and the average annual cost to families is $13,000 a year, making it inaccessible to most families.
Ninety percent of the human brain is developed by age five, making the first five years critical for academic, social and emotional growth. Yet in Hawai‘i, 52% of 3- and 4-year-olds are still not attending preschool. This has implications on a child’s future academic success. Sixty-eight percent of Hawai‘i’s fourth-graders are reading below grade level. Studies show that children who cannot read at grade level by third grade are four times less likely to graduate from high school.
“I’m proud to be from Waianae,” said Paul Kepka, principal of Kamaile Academy, a pre-k to 12 public charter school in Waianae. “I know our community has many great strengths: strong culture, tradition and o‘hana. But we also have a lot of challenges and pre-k and strong, high quality preschool for all of our children is a way to address those challenges.”
Preschoolers and advocates later visited individual legislator offices delivering their messages along with a superhero cape reminding legislators of their role in ensuring the health, safety and education of our keiki.
Advocates were rallying for active bills that address the accessibility and affordability of childcare and preschool.
Relevant House and Senate Bills:
Support Working Families’ Access to Affordable and High Quality Childcare
HB1193/SB1014, SD1: Amends the income tax credit for expenses for household and dependent care services necessary for gainful employment by increasing the taxpayer’s applicable percentage of employment-related expenses and dollar limit on amounts creditable that constitute the tax credit.
HB1527, HD1: Appropriates funds for the fiscal biennium 2019-2021 operating budget of the Department of Education’s Executive Office on Early Learning to support the expansion of pre-K classrooms across the state.
SC5/SCR5: Urging the Department of Human Services to increase the reimbursement rate for home child care facilities.
SC6/SCR6: Urging the Department of Human Services to increase the eligibility criteria for receiving child care subsidies.
Support the Continued Funding for 18 State Public Charter Pre-Schools
HB996, HD1: Appropriates moneys for school year 2019-2020 to the State Public Charter School Commission to maintain and continue the current federally funded eighteen existing charter school prekindergarten classrooms that were provided for by the federal Preschool Development Grant of 2015.
Support the Completion of the Paid Family Leave Sunrise Analysis
HB32, HD1: Extends the deadline for the Legislative Reference Bureau to submit the sunrise analysis required by Act 109, Session Laws of Hawaii 2018, from 9/1/2019, to 11/13/2019.
Organizations participating and supporting the rally include:
- Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN)
- Kamehameha Schools
- People Attentive to Children (PATCH)
- Early Childhood Action Strategy
- Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children (HAEYC)
- Hawaii P-20
- Parents and Children Together (PACT)
- University of Hawaii Center on the Family
- Early Learning Board
- Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission Pre-K Program
- HCAP Head Start
- Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice
- Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation
- Aloha United Way
- McInerny Foundation
- IMUA Family Services
- Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School
- The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences
- Kua O Ka Lā Public Charter School
- Wai’alae Elementary Public Charter School
- Nā Wai Ola Public Charter School
- Sunshine School Kailua
- Hawaii Public Policy
- Farm to Keiki
- Kamaile Academy Public Charter School
About the Hawaii Children’s Action Network
The Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, non-partisan organization and movement children. We advocate for laws and policies that keep our children safe, healthy, and ready to learn so they thrive. For more information, visit. For more information, visit www.hawaii-can.org.