The science couldn’t be clearer: we know that our kids are shaped for life in the experiences and interactions they have in their earliest years.
And we know that risk factors that we don’t address during early childhood practically assure poor health outcomes later in life.
We know these things—but for years the State of Hawaii has been dismantling early intervention programs and reducing the assistance families need to access early learning opportunities.
So it should be no surprise that we have been pouring tax dollars into disease management, incarceration, and remedial education.
It’s time we get our priorities straight.
My administration has made early childhood a priority and we will find ways to invest in the right services to ensure that all children get the chance to reach their full potential.
This week I announced that I appointed Terry Lock as the Governor’s Early Childhood Coordinator. And I also announced that the Department of Health will continue the Healthy Start program, which identifies the most at-risk families in Hawai’i and helps them at the earliest possible time.
Our values are clear: in Hawaii, we put children first. We have always felt an obligation to future generations and we act on that obligation even when that means sacrificing something today.
We are not even close to where we need to be in terms of investing in Hawaii’s youngest children. Every day lost is a day a child cannot get back. Coordinating our early childhood services is an important first step, and we will work with fierce determination until we have an early childhood support system worthy of Hawaii.