Hawaii Child Health Success: Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Partnerships
By Keiko Nitta
Hawaii Department of Health
Hawaii is one of 52 states and territories to receive the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) grant which focuses on the Bureau’s Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Health with the goal of developing systems that meet the needs of children and families more effectively. Hawaii’s ECCS project depends on partners from the public as well as private agencies with the agreed upon mission to “promote the optimal health, development, and well being of Hawaii’s young children and their families through supporting enhanced collaboration, improved integration, and the provision of culturally responsive services for all island communities.”
In Hawaii, we recognize the critical work that our partners support as they come from various communities who represent agencies that touch children and families. Our Strategic Management Team (SMT) which advises ECCS includes members from health, early childhood, prevention, and community partners: Aloha United Way, American Academy of Pediatrics – Hawaii Chapter, Blueprint for Change, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Good Beginnings Alliance, Hawaii Departments of Education and Human Services, Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children (HAEYC), Head Start State Collaboration Office, Healthy Child Care Hawaii, Kamehameha Schools, Lei Hipu‘u o Kalihi, Medical Home Works project of the John A. Burns School of Medicine, Community Pediatrics, PATCH (Hawaii’s child care resource and referral agency) and the University of Hawaii Center on the Family.
One of the keys to partnership is the reliance upon partners’ commitment to the vision that all children will be safe, healthy and ready to succeed and the ability to work through each agencies’ missions to this end. In Hawaii, we try to be respectful of each others’ views and move forward in aloha (love, affection, compassion, kindness, sincerity). System building is hard work and takes a commitment to work through various agencies. These are the guiding principles that we try to adhere to: we are all equal learning participants in this process; we will respect (not always agree) with what is shared; we treat each other as valued colleagues; we will question and seek help when confused or unclear; we are here on behalf of children.
An example of this collaborative work, Hawaii was able to work with national partners Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), ZERO TO THREE, and Strengthening Families as well as local partners to provide training and technical assistance to local communities throughout the state. Over four hundred practitioners have been trained and Hawaii is looking towards ongoing sustainability through HAEYC and PATCH. The training from CSEFEL and ZERO TO THREE focuses on challenging behaviors and promoting the social emotional development and school readiness of young children. Through Hawaii’s ECCS partners, this training is being used to support local practitioners who work with young children and their families in Hawaii’s diverse communities.