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Our key ally in in Hawai’i, Hawai’i Children’s Action Network, is the leading children’s advocacy organization in the state. The organization builds policy-driven coalitions, mobilizes family advocates, and publishes data reports to drive progress on important issues such as early childhood education, economic justice, oral health, and child abuse and neglect prevention.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Unvarying

Approximately 30% (43,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number is consistent with a 30% rate (47,000 children) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: Moderate

Native Hawai’ian children aged 0-8 are moderately more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Hawaii Governor Josh Green signed the state’s biennial fiscal 2024-2025 budget into law on June 30, following a series of line-item reductions and vetoes. The enacted budget provides for total spending of $19.0 billion in fiscal 2024 and $18.2 billion in fiscal 2025. General fund spending totals $10.7 billion in fiscal 2024 and $9.8 billion in fiscal 2025. The budget also appropriates $2.9 billion in fiscal 2024 and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2025 for capital improvement projects. General fund revenues are projected at $9.64 billion in fiscal 2024, a 4.0 percent increase from fiscal 2023, and $9.97 billion in fiscal 2025, a 3.5 percent increase from fiscal 2024.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (1.4%-8.25%)
    • State Sales Tax (4.0%)

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.4

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:5  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

The Hawaii State Legislature made big investments in tax relief for families as well as the early childhood care and education sector. By the end of the biennium, in June 2025, there will be an additional $130 million more in state funds per year allocated in tax credits for families and early childhood care and education programs.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

HB954 is the biggest boost in tax credits for working families in recent memory. Tax credits help people keep more of their hard-earned money, and when targeted for lower-to middle-income families, as HB 954 is, help reduce financial hardship. This bill allots about $80 million per year for the next five years to working families by boosting three important tax credits: the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Food/Excise Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. This is the largest increase to tax credits for working families in recent memory. 

HB961 is a cornerstone of Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor’s Ready Keiki initiative. It will fundamentally change the ways that the state government serves young children. The bill expands both the Preschool Open Doors subsidy and the Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL) Public Prekindergarten programs to include3-year-olds. Both currently only serve 4-year-olds. This bill is coupled with key investments in the state executive budget. Preschool Open Doors’ annual operating budget will go from $11.2 million to $50 million by the end of the biennium. EOEL Public Prekindergarten will receive operational funding to open an additional 55 classrooms over the next two years, taking the stock of classrooms from 37 to 92. 

SB239 creates a program to support early childhood care and education providers gain accreditation. The bill requires the state Department of Human Services to create a program that will provide regulated child care providers financial assistance for fees and technical assistance for the accreditation process. Additionally, the bill extends the deadline for providers in the state-funded preschool subsidy program to gain accreditation (current law requires unaccredited providers begin accreditation process by 2024; SB239 gives them until 2029 to begin). The bill comes with a $2.1 million one-time appropriation. 

SB295 establishes the Malama Ohana Working Group. This effort, led by Na Kama A Haloa, a community-based network led by executives from Hawaiian-serving and Hawaiian executives from other child-serving organizations, to center reforms for the state’s child welfare system on lived experiences and root them in Hawaiian knowledge. The goal is that the working group will bring forth recommendations for transformative change for the child welfare system that will particularly address disparities that Native Hawaiians face in the system. 

Base Budget Funding for Early Childhood Educator Stipend Program. This year the State Legislature committed $660,000 of annually of state general funds to the program. The funding will go in the Executive Office on Early Learning’s base budget meaning it is that much more likely to stay in the budget moving forward. In 2021, the State Legislature established the Early Childhood Educator Stipend program. The program is a partnership between the Executive Office on Early Learning and the University of Hawaii College of Education. During the foundation-building period and in the launch year, the program has been funded by Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, a local foundation.

Work with State Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish an infant and toddler workforce qualification workgroup. Year over year, infant and toddler center providers share that they face significant barriers in hiring. They have long identified a confusing and often contradictory set of minimum experience and education qualifications as one of the major barriers. After lengthy discussions with the state department including working with other community convenings and interested parties, DHS has agreed to establish a work group which will help develop demonstration projects to find alternative requirements that still maintain high quality and the utmost safety. The workgroup is set to commence over the summer with broad-based representation.

Advocates continued work to advance an increase of wages for early childhood care and education professionals in community-based settings. HB547 would have established a pilot program that provided state money for infant and toddler centers to increase wages by $3/hour across the board for caregiver staff. It died on the final day of conference committee. DHS indicates they will use remaining CCDBG supplemental monies for recruitment and retention, possibly including a shorter pilot.

There are some pretty significant administrative changes coming as part of the Lieutenant Governor’s Ready Keiki initiative. Some include increased child care provider payment rates for the state-funded child care subsidies as well as increased family eligibility and improved copayment structures. Advocates are also working on removing the tuition cap for state-funded subsidies. These should be finalized late 2023 0r early 2024.

Ongoing Areas of Grantee Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Hawaii, Hawaii Children’s Action Network, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas: 

Early Care and Education

Preschool and Pre-K

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Child and
Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health


Child Welfare

Family Economic Security

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Governance

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.



1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data: