In 1997, The Hawai`i State Legislature recognized that early childhood education and care are critical to the public good. The Legislature created Good Beginnings Alliance, which cuts across existing social service systems to coordinate early childhood services for families with young children. An Interdepartmental Council was also created, which is regularly convened by the Governor’s office. Good Beginnings established and implemented four councils to represent each of the main counties: Kaua`i, O`ahu, Maui, and Hawai`i.
In 2001, the President of the University of Hawai’i proposed an initiative to create a seamless education system from early education through college. In 2003, the initiative was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which was matched by local philanthropists, such as the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation. The P-20 initiative is a partnership of Good Beginnings Alliance, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, and the University of Hawai‘i System. The Hawaii Business Roundtable, a statewide public policy organization made up of Hawai’i CEOs and senior executives, is part of the P-20 initiative.
Hawai’i completed an economic impact study in 2005. Good Beginnings Alliance partnered with the Insight Center to produce the report. To ensure the report retained local resonance, Good Beginnings also worked with a local data consultant and a local strategic consulting firm. Other leaders in business and economic development participated on an Advisory Board, including representatives from the Workforce Investment Board; the Bank of Hawai’i; Economic Development Boards of the Island of Hawai’i, Kaua’i, and Maui; and the Hawai’i Business Roundtable. To further stress the economic nature of the study, meetings were hosted at Enterprise Honolulu, the economic development organization of O’ahu.
Using Economic Messages
In January, 2007, Good Beginnings and the Insight Center reconvened the Economic Impact Advisory Board to discuss how to move the recommendations of the economic impact study forward. The group formed the Business Council for Early Care and Education, with a goal to link early care and education (ECE) and the business and economic development communities. ECE advocates kept the Business Council informed of new initiatives in ECE, and offered them opportunities for advocacy. Business leaders were encouraged to write letters to the editor and legislators, and to submit testimony during public hearings.
To build support for new early learning initiatives, Good Beginnings Alliance partnered with Dr. Clive Belfield of Queens College, City University of New York, to study the economic benefits of Pre-K for three and four-year-olds. The report, “Economic Benefits of Investments in Early Education for Hawai‘i” will be released in the early 2009.
Boosting the Economic Power of Early Care and Education: Key Highlights
The P-20 initiative instituted some changes to align early learning with the K-12 system. Initiative leaders worked to implement a single school calendar for all Department of Education programs, allowing Pre-Ks and after-schools to align to one calendar. The initiative incorporated flexibility in the school funding formula so that schools may offer play/learn groups, pre-k, family outreach, or transitions to kindergarten programs. The initiative also implemented a Junior Kindergarten program in every elementary school, and developed opportunities for early care and education providers to partner, get training and technical assistance, and increase coordination.
In 2007, the P-20 partnership received funding for a P-3 initiative entitled “Capturing the Momentum,” with the specific goal of ensuring that every child in Hawai’i can read by the end of grade three.
In 2006, the state legislature created an Early Learning Educational Task Force and asked for a five-year plan for a coherent, comprehensive, and sustainable early learning system, starting with a report on 4-year-old children in Hawai`i. Business and ECE leaders were together on the Task Force. The Early Learning Educational Task Force leaders hired a consultant who was a former business CEO in Hawai’i to publicize the report and its recommendations. This helped frame the issue in economic terms that would resonate for business and policy leaders outside of early care and education.
In 2007, Good Beginnings Alliance presented to the Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce Education Committee about the economic importance of ECE and the recommendations of the Early Learning Task Force. The Chamber joined the Business Council and hosted one of those meetings.
One of the main newspapers in Hawai’i, the Honolulu Advertiser, ran a monthly commentary from a group of leaders in education known as Voices of Educators. A number of these commentaries focused on the economic return on investing in ECE.
In 2008, the legislature passed a bill known as Keiki First Steps (keiki means children in Hawaiian). The bill was vetoed by the Governor and overridden by the legislature. The bill creates a permanent Early Learning Council, responsible for developing and administering the state’s early learning program. The long-range goal is to establish a comprehensive, quality early learning system for Hawai`i’s children, from birth to the time they enter kindergarten, and offering quality early learning opportunities to all of Hawai`i’s children. The Council met for the first time on September 17, 2008.
State and Legislative Actions
The 2006 Legislature of the State of Hawai`i enacted Act 259, which created the Early Learning Educational Task Force and assigned the Task Force to develop a five-year plan with annual increments for a coherent, comprehensive, and sustainable early learning system, starting with a report on 4-year-old children in Hawai`i. To solicit information from the entire community, a website known as a “wiki” was created. “Wikis” enable people to edit collaboratively on-line (the best known example is wikipedia.com). An interim report was given to the Legislature in November 2006, and a final report was submitted in 2008.
In 2008, the legislature passed Keiki First Steps.The Act creates an Early Learning Council, responsible for developing and administering the state’s early learning program. The long-range goal is to establish a comprehensive, quality early learning system for Hawai`i’s children, from birth to the time they enter kindergarten, and offering quality early learning opportunities to all of Hawai`i’s children. The Council is not required to, but may rely, on the work of the Act 259 Early Learning Task Force.
The Act 259 website is an interesting example of using technology to solicit input from community stakeholders.
Good Beginnings Alliance is the leading policy advocacy organization in the State of Hawai`i ensuring that all keiki are safe, healthy and ready to succeed.
Hawai`i P-20 Partnerships for Education is a statewide partnership led by the Good Beginnings Alliance, the Hawai`i State Department of Education, and the University of Hawai`i System that is working to strengthen the education pipeline from early childhood through higher education so that all students achieve career and college success.
PATCH is Hawaii's statewide child care resource and referral agency. Resource and referral services have evolved from a grassroots effort to help parents find child care, to a well-developed system that supports parents, providers, and local communities in finding, planning for, and providing affordable, quality child care.
The Center on the Family enhances interdisciplinary research, service, and education that supports and strengthens families. The Center conducts research; sponsors workshops, seminars, and conferences; disseminates research-based information; and facilitates collaboration.
The Hawaii Business Roundtable is a statewide public policy organization made up of the CEOs and senior executives of companies headquartered or maintaining significant operations in Hawaii. The roundtable participates in the P-20 and P-3 initiatives in Hawaii, and has advocated publicly for early care and education.