Commit to Keiki was established in 2020, beginning with the mayoral candidates up for election in Honolulu and Hawaii Counties. Commit to Keiki hosted virtual conversations for all candidates with community leaders in early care and learning, family support and mental health. The goals for the Mayors were to create infrastructure and funding to support keiki and families at the County-levels.
Ultimately, the candidates, including the mayor-elects Blangiardi and Roth, committed to hiring Early Childhood Resource Coordinators, securing funds for Commit to Keiki priorities and working with County Councils to continue to strengthen County capacity. Maui County has had infrastructure in place for nearly two decades and Mayor Bissen has come onboard as a Commit to Keiki partner. Kaua`i County has also joined the Commit to Keiki effort and is actively involved. Our state now has an Early Childhood Coordinator, or someone dedicated to early childhood in all four counties.
In 2022, Commit to Keiki focused its efforts on the General Election that would select a new governor for the state. As a non-partisan organization, Commit to Keiki engaged with all gubernatorial candidates to help educate them on the three priority issues that impact early childhood development. The goal was to have the candidates include Commit to Keiki’s priorities as part of their campaign platform and then when elected, include early childhood priorities as part of their 100-day plan and commit funding in their upcoming budget.
Throughout the 2022 election season, Commit to Keiki held informational briefings with both democratic and republican candidates, hosted several talk story forums to give the general public the opportunity to hear each candidate’s stance on early childhood topics, and was the major sponsor of two televised debates. During this time, Commit to Keiki also commissioned several voter polls that consistently found significant support for each of the three priority areas.
As we look to the future, Commit to Keiki is committed to serving as a resource for Governor Josh Green, Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke, Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi, Hawai`i Mayor Roth, Maui Mayor Bissen and Kaua`i Mayor Kawakami and our state legislators to ensure that the Hawaii’s state and county budgets better align with our greatest priority – our keiki.