He lei poina ʻole ke keiki                                         A‘ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi.

A child is a lei that never wilts or is forgotten.                            “All knowledge is not learned in just one school.”

What is ECE³?

Hawai‘i Early Childhood Educator Excellence and Equity (ECE³) Project seeks to

  1. transform early childhood education (ECE) teacher preparation programs and
  2. develop a plan to increase compensation (wages, benefits and working conditions) for ECE teachers, across sectors and settings, serving young children from infants through age eight.

Learn more about About Us

early childhood classroom
Diamond head and honolulu

In Hawai‘i, structural barriers and gaps to ECE workforce preparation and compensation/financing have been in place for decades. Today, early childhood education (ECE) in Hawai‘i stands at a crossroads. By almost all measures, Hawai‘i lags behind the rest of the nation in providing access to high-quality ECE programs, especially for children and families most in need. Key indicators of current conditions include:

Why ECE³ & Why Now?

In Hawai‘i, structural barriers and gaps to ECE workforce preparation and compensation/financing have been in place for decades. Today, early childhood education (ECE) in Hawai‘i stands at a crossroads. By almost all measures, Hawai‘i lags behind the rest of the nation in providing access to high-quality ECE programs, especially for children and families most in need.

Key indicators of current conditions include:

(Source: Hawai’i Early Learning Needs Assessment 2017 Summary Report)

boy on dirt

Acute shortage of early childhood seats

In Hawai’i, overall, there are only enough seats to serve about one in four children, but many communities are childcare deserts with few or no options for families. The report shows there is a critical shortage of infant-toddler care. Hawaiʻi has 37 children under age three for every licensed infant-toddler center seat, and some islands have no infant-toddler centers. As a result of the shortage, parents try to get on a waiting list long before their baby is born.

reading to preschoolers

Nation’s least affordable center-based care

Hawai’i has the least affordable center-based care, relative to family income. The federal government defines affordable child care as 7% of family income for all children, combined. However, care for only one child in Hawai’i consumes approximately 13% of the typical Hawai’i’s family’s income.

early childhood classroom

Critically low compensation levels

Almost the entirely of the 4260 members of Hawai’i’s early teaching workforce are severely underpaid and the median annual salary for childcare workers is $19,540. Low compensation is a contributing factor to the current ECE workforce shortage; 58% of center directors surveyed through the ELNA indicated that applicants turned down job offers based on wages or benefit packages.