He lei poina ʻole ke keiki

A child is a lei that never wilts or is forgotten.


Vision Statement

All children—beginning at birth—and their families, are served by high-quality, accessible early care and learning programs, staffed with well-prepared, well-supported, and well-compensated early childhood educators.

Mission Statement

  1. To transform early childhood education (ECE) lead teacher preparation programs and compensation/financing systems
  2. To build a statewide integrated early childhood workforce and professional development system

Learn more About Us

early childhood classroom

boy on dirt

Acute shortage of early childhood seats

On average, only one in four children has access to an early childhood seat in Hawaiʻi. As the early childhood crisis becomes more and more pervasive, many communities are considered childcare deserts with little to no options for families. Additionally, research shows a critical shortage of infant-toddler care in Hawaiʻi—for every licensed infant-toddler seat, our state has 37 children under age three waiting to fill it, with some islands offering no infant-toddler programs at all. Read Hawai‘i Early Learning Needs Assessment: 2017 Summary Report to learn more.


Nation’s least affordable center-based care

According to the Early Childhood Workforce Index 2020 by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Hawai’i’s center-based care programs are the least affordable when compared to other states. The federal government defines childcare as “affordable” when the costs for all children amount to at most 7% of family income. Hawaiʻi is far off from this ideal—research shows that care for one child alone consumes approximately 13% of the typical family’s income. Put simply, Hawaiʻi’s families are greatly struggling to afford quality early childhood care for their keiki.

Critically low compensation levels

Almost every one of the 3,410 members making up Hawaiʻi’s early education workforce is severely underpaid. According to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, the median wage for child care workers in Hawaiʻi was $12.43, a 12% increase since 2017. Critically low compensation is one of the most pressing factors that contribute to the current ECE workforce shortage and must be addressed urgently.