Hawaii’s Oldest, Successful Keiki Advocacy Group Rebrands as
Hawaii Children’s Action Network
(HONOLULU, HI — November 12, 2015) —Good Beginnings Alliance (GBA), Hawaii’s leading nonprofit group for young children statewide, is now the Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN).
The nearly two-decade-old nonprofit has re-launched to achieve a broader goal of advocacy and community organizing to afford all Hawaii’s youngsters a healthy start in life.
Hawaii Children’s Action Network will focus on building grassroots support for children, from housing, health care, quality childcare and early education to other issues such as family leave. Children of families in poverty or living in communities with few resources continue to be the highest priority.
"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."
"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 (Liz) 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."
Through Act 77, GBA was established in 1996 to coordinate and develop early childhood services statewide. Since the act sunset in 2010, child advocates have reorganized and broadened the mission, which led to HCAN.
HCAN’s immediate goals include raising $300,000, and strengthening the statewide coalition. The group will campaign for early health screenings, address child homelessness, work to bring together more than 50 children’s groups, establish a think tank focused on solutions, conduct advocacy training and launch a fellowship program for emerging leaders.
Hawaii data demonstrate the need for community organizing around children:
More of Hawaii kids are living in poverty: One out of five keiki.
-This summer 7,260 people were identified as homeless in Hawaii; 2,200 were children.
-Nearly 30 percent of parents lack secure employment.
-More than 40 percent of children are living in households with a high housing cost burden.
-Nearly half of Hawaii keiki don’t go to preschool. Children who do are 80 percent more likely to graduate from high school.
-Two-thirds of Hawaii keiki don’t get simple screenings for developmental delays, to catch and treat things early, yet 30 percent are estimated to be at risk for a developmental delay.
-Children in low-income families are twice as likely not to have access to health care and screenings. (Due to geographic isolation or a lack of service providers willing to take patients with certain medical coverage.)
-One-fourth of Hawaii kids don’t always have enough to eat.