Lawmakers Spent Big This Year To Help Hawaii Families ‘Pushed Over The Edge’ 0 Despite the investments, advocacy groups say cracks remain in the state’s safety net.

A historic budget surplus, strong coordination by advocacy groups and the undeniable fact that many of Hawaii’s families are struggling — both financially and mentally — helped drive big investments in early childhood initiatives this year.

Lawmakers allocated $200 million for preschool facilities, restored nearly $7 million in preschool funding for low-income families, increased access to postnatal care for some of the state’s most vulnerable women and moved to increase teacher pay — a step they hope will make early childhood education a more attractive career for workers.

The Legislature also approved funding for a new Office of Wellness and Resilience in the governor’s office to help address trauma in the state. The office is being heralded as a significant achievement by early childhood advocates, many of whom are concerned about the lasting impacts of the pandemic on the state’s youngest residents.

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