Gratitude Report 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, your support made all the difference. As soon as it became clear that COVID-19 would have dramatic impacts on the health, safety, and education of our keiki, Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network pivoted and took action.

“I know what it's going to be like when having difficult times. [HCAN’s COVID-19 resource map] was a lifesaver for some families who didn’t realize that the assistance was out there. It’s a fantastic resource for parents. The most important thing was when they were looking for food distributions during that really tough time when nobody could get anything or any help. You made it easy. Having your information to share was one of the best things I could do.”

— Rosa Stone, Maui

Children and families are our future. Getting involved and active helps to keep me abreast of current events and what role I can play now and in the future. Sharing resources helps all of us and the people we serve.”

— Annie Au Hoon, Oʻahu

Taking a look back

Our COVID-19 response was just part of our impact this year. As you’ll read in our annual Gratitude Report, supporters like you helped to pass important bills, train dozens of new advocates and parent leaders, and raise awareness about the 2020 census — among many other accomplishments.

We couldn’t do this without superheroes like you. Mahalo!

Building a unified voice

Children’s Policy Agenda

HCAN convened the fifth annual Hawaiʻi Children’s Policy Agenda, reflecting the input of 37 Community Champion members. These organizations, coalitions, and individuals are committed to improving the lives of our keiki by promoting public policy changes that benefit children’s health, safety, education, and economic security.

The Agenda contained 25 priorities, including creating a state paid family leave program, providing support for families experiencing diaper need, and creating a family visitation facility at a correctional center. They were launched at a joint press conference with the legislative Keiki Caucus.

HCAN Executive Director Deborah Zysman speaks at the Children’s Policy Agenda launch in January 2020.

The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the legislative session, but three bills still passed and were signed by Gov. Ige.

Attendees at our annual Early Childhood Day at the Capitol in March 2020
Action alerts sent out to HCAN’s growing list of community advocates
Online testimonies submitted by grassroots advocates in support of policy priorities
Click here if you participated in the 2020 legislative session as an advocate for keiki!

Convening community advocates


During the COVID-19 pandemic, HCAN’s coalition partners mobilized to tackle the unexpected challenges facing Hawaiʻi’s families. Even before the pandemic, though, these coalitions were making an impact:

Hawaiʻi Early Childhood Action Alliance

The mission of Hawaiʻi Early Childhood Action Alliance (HECAA) is that “all children will have equitable access to affordable, culturally reflective, high-quality care and education.” HECAA now includes 75 individual members from a range of organizations, including the American Heart Association, Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice, HEʻE Coalition, Parents and Children Together, PATCH, and UH Center on the Family/Hawaiʻi KIDS COUNT.

Led by HCAN, HECAA’s policy priorities this year were:

Working Families Coalition

The Working Families Coalition (WFC) is a diversified group of nonprofit organizations, academia, unions and community advocates fighting for Hawaii’s families through policy, advocacy, and education. In January 2020, several WFC members organized a Policy and Advocacy Training with approximately 100 participants in attendance. The training included workshops on issue development, using the Public Access Room, and how to effectively use your story to advocate on your issue. Additionally, a panel with legislators shared their perspectives and offered suggestions on being an effective advocate.

Participants learn about policy and advocacy.

The WFC’s legislative priorities in 2020 included increasing the minimum wage, making the state earned income tax credit (EITC) refundable and permanent, creating a statewide paid family leave program, establishing a refundable tax credit for child care expenses, creating an affordable homeownership revolving fund, and improving the kūpuna caregivers program.

Hawaiʻi Oral Health Coalition

The mission of the Hawaiʻi Oral Health Coalition is to improve the overall health and well-being of all Hawaiʻi residents by increasing access and equity in oral health care through collaborative partnerships, advocacy, and education. The HOHC was established in the summer of 2019 but follows in the footsteps of decades of collaboration within the oral health community. Led by the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute and HCAN, the HOHC is community-owned and has membership representation from all islands and diverse sectors.

Click here if you were a member of any of HCAN’s coalitions this year!

Stepping up to the crisis

COVID-19 Response

As COVID-19 became a global pandemic in March, Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network quickly shifted gears to focus on urgent issues created by the health and economic crisis.

Urgent advocacy to protect children and families

Within a week of COVID-19 reaching pandemic status in March, HCAN worked with the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (HIPHI) to urge Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige to implement social distancing measures, through a public letter signed by more than 100 doctors and public health professionals. HCAN also convened letters urging the Governor, mayors, and government officials to support working families and protect child care.

HCAN Executive Director Deborah Zysman also gave a presentation to the Hawaiʻi State House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness on COVID-19’s impacts to the state’s child care sector.

With the Working Families Coalition, HCAN put together recommendations and spending priorities for the state’s share of federal coronavirus response funds through the CARES Act. HCAN also helped to organize a public campaign pushing the legislature to adopt those priorities, which included a socially distanced rally at the Capitol, digital action alerts, media coverage, and op-eds. The legislature ended up allocating $15 million toward child care assistance.

HCAN and the WFC mobilized community members to push the state legislature to prioritize the needs of children and families.

With the Hawaiʻi Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance, HCAN sent letters to three statewide business groups regarding working families and supporting parents: the Hawaiʻi Employers Council, Society for Human Resource Management, and the Hawaiʻi Chamber of Commerce.

In partnership with the Hawaiʻi Afterschool Alliance, HCAN conducted two surveys of parents to find out about their concerns around child care and afterschool programs. Each survey received approximately 700 responses and underscored the need for working parents to have care for their kids. Read the results of the first survey and the second survey.

In July, the state cut funding for seven public pre-K classes due to its budget shortfall caused by the pandemic. HCAN raised the alarm, and public pressure — including media coverage featuring HCAN — eventually led the governor to restore funding for all seven classrooms.

Click here if you supported our urgent advocacy to protect our most vulnerable families.

Informing the public about resources and rights

With information constantly changing, and the latest updates often hard to find, HCAN quickly realized that public education must be a critical component of our response. By the end of March, HCAN put together an interactive, mobile-friendly map of resources to help families cope with the COVID-19 crisis, which includes information on food, child care, financial assistance, and more. It’s become the state’s leading resource list, having been cited by Governor Ige, state and county officials, and numerous local organizations.

Tens of thousands of families have used HCAN’s resource map to find critical information.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) gave many workers the right to emergency paid leave and paid sick days. After its passage in March, HCAN quickly put together information and graphics (in English and Filipino). As caregivers began anticipating distance learning in July, HCAN published additional information about how this paid leave can be used to care for kids whose schools are closed or doing online instruction. Click here to read about your rights.

At the end of April, the State Department of Human Services changed child care subsidy rules to make many more families eligible. HCAN helped to inform the public about these changes by publicizing information through our networks, email newsletter, and social media. As a result of this community effort, applications for child care subsidies more than doubled.

Click here if you shared or used any of our COVID-19 resources!

New community engagement and digital organizing efforts

In March, HCAN and HIPHI launched a new collaboration hub on Slack, which now has over 200 members representing social services, education, labor, small businesses, and other sectors. By coordinating our efforts, we’ve been able to serve the community more efficiently and effectively. This community effort also mobilized volunteers to assemble 12,000 face shields for essential workers.

Physically distanced volunteers at the Neal Blaisdell Center assembled thousands of face shields.

HCAN has also been a leading voice on the importance of child care in the state’s economic recovery. HCAN staff members have been interviewed numerous times for news stories appearing on TV, in print, and online. We have also successfully submitted or coordinated op-eds on this subject, including one written by three HCAN board members urging the state to not let child care to “become an afterthought.” We also created Facebook profile picture “frames” for supporters to display the message that “There’s no economic recovery without child care.” (Click here to change your profile picture, or click here for an alternate design.)

Minutes have been spent using HCAN’s COVID-19 resource map by over 24,000 visitors
People were reached through social media PSAs about emergency paid leave provisions

Developing community leaders

Parent Leadership Training Institute

PLTI is a leadership, civics and democracy training course for parents and family members to improve child outcomes in their communities. Based on a national program, our program began in Hawaiʻi in 2015, and we now have 61 alumni actively engaging and changing their communities.

This year, HCAN expanded the program from Oʻahu to Maui. In June 2019, a team of 5 community leaders from Maui were sent to California to become certified PLTI trainers. The cohort attracted 29 applicants, and 15 were accepted into the program. HCAN also launched the fourth PLTI cohort on Oʻahu, which garnered 69 applications, 17 of whom were accepted and joined the program. Both cohorts were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with the Oʻahu cohort needing to finish its sessions virtually.

After improving their leadership and advocacy skills, PLTI participants are already making an impact in their communities.

Some projects this year included:

Parent leaders from these cohorts are already engaged in work to improve child outcomes. For example, two PLTI parent leaders participated in a town hall meeting with Senator Brian Schatz on paid family leave, one spoke at HCAN’s annual Early Childhood Day rally at the State Capitol, and another is being appointed by Gov. Ige to the Hawaiʻi State Commission on Fatherhood.

New parent and community leaders were trained this year
Click here if you participated in PLTI this year!

Community engagement

Family strengthening

We started our fiscal year with a series of statewide child abuse and neglect prevention events in partnership with Family Hui. From August-October 2019, we organized:

Kids enjoyed Uncle Wayne’s performance at the Maui Family Fun Day in September 2019.

In 2020, this work shifted to better support communities during the public health crisis. In-person events were canceled, but a digital event in April, planned by Ho‘oikaika Partnership, CoMMIT for Keiki, and Islands of Hope Maui, raised awareness about child abuse and neglect prevention. Partnering with Aloha United Way, we created multilingual flyers and social media graphics about the free 2-1-1 resource hotline; 10,000 flyers were printed and distributed. We also distributed funds to support programs that directly addressed the risk factors for child abuse and neglect, like poverty, stress, mental health issues, and social isolation as a result of the pandemic:

HCAN has also been actively working to bring the community together to develop a new Statewide Prevention Plan for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and to re-build a stronger Hawaiʻi Children’s Trust Fund Coalition.

Click here if you attended any of our Family Fun Days or participated in any family strengthening activities this year!

2020 Census

HCAN organized the Hawaiʻi Kids Complete Count Committee to coordinate efforts to ensure all children in Hawaiʻi were counted in the 2020 Census. In particular, we focused on families with children under age 5, because Hawaiʻi had the 10th highest undercount of this demographic. Before stopping in-person events due to the pandemic, HCAN raised awareness and encouraged families to complete the census through community events at Windward Mall and the Entrepreneurs Sandbox. We also commissioned custom coloring pages to distribute to families as a way to promote the census.

HCAN adapted a video made by Advocates for Children of New Jersey to inform local audiences about the importance of the census.

During the pandemic, our efforts turned virtual. We developed a tool to target social media ads to areas with a high risk of undercounting kids, using real-time data of census response rates. These social media ads featured one video from Sesame Street, two from the US Census Bureau, and one from Advocates for Children of New Jersey that HCAN customized for a local audience. HCAN also led additional outreach to targeted areas on Hawaiʻi Island through postcard mailers and phone calls.

Hawaiʻi residents informed about the 2020 census through social media ads
Click here if you filled out the 2020 census!

Grassroots supporters

This year, HCAN’s network grew to over 9,000 individuals who can be contacted via email, phone, text, or physical mail. Before the pandemic, HCAN engaged supporters through advocacy trainings, talk story events, and film screenings. Our social media audience grew by 40% in the past fiscal year, driven largely by Instagram, where HCAN started the year with just over 100 followers and ended with over 1,000.

Our email database increased by about 900 subscribers. We have also increased our newsletter frequency and doubled the average rate at which subscribers open our emails, meaning more people than ever are seeing our action alerts and informational updates. Our new blog, Keiki First, provides regular updates on HCAN’s work and national news about issues affecting children and families.

News stories featuring HCAN in fiscal year 2020
Click here if you follow HCAN on social media, receive our email newsletters, or participated in any community events this year!

Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network Speaks!

Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network Speaks! is a nonpartisan 501(c)4 nonprofit. Although it’s a separate organization from HCAN, the two have a shared mission of ensuring all keiki are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. HCAN Speaks! focuses on lobbying and endorsing candidates who work to pass legislation on behalf of Hawaiʻi’s children and families. It gives voters the tools they need to make informed decisions when choosing Hawaiʻi’s leaders.

This year, HCAN Speaks! supported HCAN’s policy priorities and submitted testimony during the legislative session. Through a new discussion group, HCAN Speaks Up!, we also started building a grassroots base of advocates.

During the 2020 election, the HCAN Speaks! board chose to endorse nine state house and senate candidates. They decided on this select group after a thorough vetting process to identify the candidates who would be the strongest champions for keiki.

The board sent every candidate a questionnaire with detailed questions on five topics: early learning; economic justice; health and wellness; child safety, welfare, and family strengthening; and improving Hawaiʻi. 32 house candidates and eight senate candidates returned their surveys. The top 24 candidates — 20 house candidates and four senate candidates — were invited for interviews. Each candidate was asked how they would be a champion for keiki, how they would involve the community and be effective legislators, how they would advance racial equity, and how they plan on winning their seat.

Advocates joined a virtual pau hana with the candidates endorsed by HCAN Speaks!

Each of our nine endorsed candidates ran spirited campaigns that brought to the forefront critical issues like public health, economic injustice, and the need for high-impact investments in our keiki. HCAN Speaks! volunteers helped get out the vote through socially distanced sign-waving and virtual phone-banking.

Seven candidates were ultimately elected: Sen. Stanley Chang, Rep. Jeanné Kapela, Rep. Adrian Tam, Rep. Sonny Ganaden, Rep. Lauren Matsumoto, Rep. Amy Perruso, and Rep. Lisa Kitagawa. We’re excited to work with our seven elected candidates, along with all legislators, in the pivotal upcoming legislative session.

In Memoriam: Dr. Calvin Sia

Dr. Calvin Sia, a pediatrician and lifelong advocate for children in Hawai’i and across the world, passed away on August 19, 2020 at the age of 93. Dr. Sia was one of the founders of Good Beginnings Alliance — which later became HCAN — and changed the lives of countless children through his tireless advocacy. Read more about Dr. Sia.

In early March, HCAN spoke with Dr. Sia, who was one of our inaugural Champions for Childreen honorees. In this short video, he reflected on his career and his vision that all children will “achieve physical, mental, and social well-being” — a mission that we will continue in his honor and memory.

Community Champion members

These Community Champion members participated in the 2020 Hawaiʻi Children’s Policy agenda. See a current list of members on our website.


ALICE Policy Hui

ACLU Hawaiʻi

Blueprint for Change

Breastfeeding Hawaiʻi

Caring for Hawaiʻi Neonates

Early Childhood Action Strategy

Epic ‘Ohana, Inc.

Family Hui Hawaiʻi

Family Programs Hawaiʻi

Family Support Hawaiʻi

Hawaiʻi Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice

Hawaiʻi Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance

Hawaiʻi Diaper Bank

Hawaiʻi Pacific Health

Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute

Hawaiʻi State PTSA

Hawaiʻi State Teacher’s Association

Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking

Hawaiʻi Youth Services Network

Imua Family Services

Midwives Alliance of Hawaiʻi

Parents And Children Together

Parents for Public School Hawaiʻi

People Attentive to Children (PATCH)

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaiʻi

Raise Up Hawaiʻi

The Learning Coalition/HEʻE Coalition

Working Families Coalition

Zonta International


Paula Adams

Ericka Chavez

Elisabeth Chun

Jackie Jackson

Quin Ogawa

David Okumura

Robert Peters

Jeannine Souki

Superhero supporters

We couldn’t do this work without the dedicated partnership of our donors and funders, who are committed to creating a Hawaiʻi where all keiki can thrive. Mahalo!

Individual donors to HCAN and HCAN Speaks! in fiscal year 2020
Click here if you donated to HCAN or HCAN Speaks! this year and invested in this critical mission.

Funding partners

Alliance for Early Success

Aloha United Way

City and County of Honolulu

Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation


Family Values @ Work

Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation

Hawaiʻi Community Foundation

Hawaiʻi Public Charter School Commission

Hawaiʻi State Department of Health

McInerny Foundation

Partnership for America’s Children

Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation

Community and corporate sponsors

Alaska Airlines


Bay View Mini-Putt and Zipline

Davis Levin Livingston Foundation

Duke’s Waikiki

Finance Factors Foundation

Hawaii Hotel Industry Foundation

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Railway Society

HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union

Holomua Consulting Group, LLC

Honolulu Cookie Company

ILWU Local 142

Kamaʻāina Kids

Kamehameha Schools

Kapiʻolani Medical Center for Women and Children

KCAA Preschools of Hawaiʻi

Kualoa Ranch

Las Piñatas of Maui

Locations Foundation

Merriman’s Hawaiʻi

Nakupuna Foundation/Na Aliʻi Consulting & Sales

People Strategies Hawaiʻi

Pineapple Tweed

Pigtails and Crewcuts

Polynesian Cultural Center

Queen Kapiolani Hotel

Ritz-Carlton Waikiki



TyGurney Surf School

Waikiki Beach Services

Ward Research

Whole Foods Market

HCAN financial overview

Income: $1,068,965

Expenses: $969,779