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Hirono Announces $15.9 Million for Early Childhood Education in Hawaii

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) announced that the Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) will receive $15,933,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support the organization’s Head Start and Early Head Start Programs.

“Early childhood programs like Head Start provide safe and inclusive learning environments for children, helping to support our keiki and their families,” said Senator Hirono. “From developing the Hawaii Pre-Plus Program as Lieutenant Governor, to sponsoring the Child Care for Working Families Act in Congress—expanding access to early childhood education programs has long-been a priority of mine. As we continue working to increase access to high-quality, affordable early childhood programs, this federal funding will help HCAP expand their services across our islands and set our keiki up for success.”

“We are grateful to Senator Hirono and the rest of Hawai?i’s congressional delegation for their continued leadership and stalwart support in providing funding for HCAP to carry out its mission,” said Robert N.E. Piper, Executive Director of HCAP Head Start. “It is HCAP’s kuleana to provide wraparound support services to O‘ahu’s working families. The support from Hawai?i’s leaders helps make it possible for our agency to provide important support services such as Head Start early learning and job development services to the community.”

HCAP offers the Head Start preschool program for children ages 3-5 and the Early Head Start program for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women. Founded in 1965, Head Start programs deliver early learning, health, and family well-being services to qualifying children and their families. Head Start has become the largest early childhood program in Hawaii, serving over 1,500 children and their families every year.

As Hawaii Lieutenant Governor, Senator Hirono led the development of the Hawaii Pre-Plus Program, which expanded access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education programs for 3- and 4-year-olds from families at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Today, there are 14 Pre-Plus sites statewide, some of which are used by HCAP for their Head Start programs. In Congress, Senator Hirono has remained a strong and consistent advocate for expanding access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education programs. In April 2023, Senator Hirono joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in reintroducing the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would ensure working and middle class families have access to high-quality, affordable child care and universal preschool. In addition, she also led a letter with Senators Casey and Tina Smith (D-MN) calling for strong funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and other early childhood programs in FY24. Senator Hirono also helped pass the American Rescue Plan Act, which included $39 billion for child care programs in the United States—including nearly $130 million to support Hawaii child care programs.