Making Hawaii’s At-Risk Children A Priority
The odds are stacked against Hawaii’s at-risk children, and these inequities need to be addressed. Entering kindergarten, many children are up to a year behind their peers in skills like reading and counting, which leads to potential lost opportunities for attending higher education or attaining a career.
For young children, stable and consistent learning environments are critical for early brain development. Research underscores the benefits of high-quality early learning. Children have better cognitive and language skills and are better able to regulate their emotions and manage adversity. Having these skills at kindergarten entry can eliminate the achievement gap and the need for costly remediation.
Hawaii’s legislators have an opportunity to make a colossal impact on the lives of children and on our economic future. Bills that could positively impact Hawaii’s young children and families include those that would constructively effect early learning, homeless children and paid family leave.
With legislators under pressure to trim budgets, low-income working parents are facing a paradox. Just when they have to work longer hours to stay afloat, they are losing access to the thing they need most to stay on the job and prevent homelessness: a government subsidy that helps pay for child care.
Quality child care is a key component to every state’s early childhood strategic plan. Child care helps communities prosper. It gives children the opportunity to learn and develop skills they need to succeed in school and in life. It gives parents the support and peace of mind they need to be a productive worker.
Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the nation. It is estimated that one-third of our homeless are children!
We should make a commitment to serve distinctive groups of the homeless, such as families with children, domestic violence victims and individuals with disabilities in ways that help address the specific issues they are facing.
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