PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release May 13, 2021 FOR MORE INFORMATION Contact: Sheila Sarhangi Hawai‘i Community Foundation (808) 772-0718 email@example.com
Contact: Keiko Nitta Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (808) 733-4966 firstname.lastname@example.org
A new first-of-its-kind plan by government agencies and nonprofits supports the mental health of Hawai‘i keiki
Partner organizations announce Integrated Infant and Early Childhood Behavioral Health Plan during Mental Health Awareness Month HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and today, a group of government and non-government partners announced the Integrated Infant and Early Childhood Behavioral Health (IECBH) Plan. The IECBH Plan is the first comprehensive, cross-sector five-year plan that outlines shared goals, policy and financial strategies to improve access to behavioral health services for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and families in Hawai‘i. To support the mental health of all Hawaiʻi keiki, the IECBH Plan will create equitable systems of care that reduce racial and socioeconomic disparities, ultimately ensuring success in school and life.
Partner organizations that developed the Plan include the Association for Infant Mental Health Hawaiʻi, Early Childhood Action Strategy Network (ECAS), the Executive Office on Early Learning/Head Start State Collaboration Office, Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF), and Hawaiʻi State Department of Health’s Children with Special Health Needs Branch. The current system of care for young children spans across multiple state departments and their internal divisions, foundations, and child- and family-serving nonprofits. The IECBH Plan was created to coordinate care efforts, address care gaps, avoid duplication and maximize all resources. Work is already underway to engage and involve stakeholders in implementing the Plan, including reviewing existing resources and services to implement strategies for coordination and seeking new public and private funding sources such as the recently passed federal American Rescue Plan.
Research indicates that positive relationships between young children and their parents and other caregivers are critical to brain development, sense of self, ability to self-regulate and development of empathy. Negative biological and disruptive family circumstances can influence the architecture of the brain and have serious and lasting impacts upon both early attachment and later relationships. The pandemic has only shed light on the great need for behavioral health resources and supports for Hawai‘i families and children. A recent study by the University of Oregon RAPID-EC Project reports that 52% of children and families with financial hardship are also experiencing emotional distress resulting in higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness. “Now more than ever, it’s important that families have easy access to services and programs that nurture the mental and social well-being of our keiki,” said Danette Wong Tomiyasu, Deputy Director of Health Resources, Hawai‘i State Department of Health. “Building healthy and resilient communities starts with caring for our youngest children. The Integrated Infant and Early Childhood Behavioral Health Plan will take a once fractured system and create a streamlined and efficient process to deploying critical support to local families.” The IECBH Plan has four main components, each featuring short-, intermediate-, and long-term objectives and strategies: • • • •
Systems & Policy – Establish state policies and services with sustainable funding streams that support IECBH providers across Hawai‘i. Marketing, Outreach & Community Education – Create mechanisms to improve understanding among families, communities, and policymakers about the link between infant and early childhood behavioral health and long-term health and positive outcomes. Workforce Development – Increase the quality and capacity of the early childhood and behavioral health workforce to address social, emotional and behavioral needs of young children and their families. Programs & Services – Create pathways for families to access a full range of IECBH programs and services providing promotion, prevention and treatment.
“All keiki deserve a fair start to succeed, no matter their socioeconomic status. Yet systems and services in place today are fragmented and spread thin due to overwhelming need,” said Micah Kāne, CEO & President of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. “We are humbled to strategize with agencies and nonprofit partners to develop a common playbook for organizations that already deliver critical support to young children, in turn coordinating efforts and expanding access to mental and behavioral health services to families who need it most.” “Mental health needs of our keiki and ʻohana continue to increase as families navigate the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic and no one agency or organization can meet the needs by itself,” said Mike Mohr, Early Childhood Action Strategy Board Chair. “Partnerships between government and non-government organizations support innovation, user-driven design, matched funding, and sustainability – all key ingredients to systems change. Now is the time to put the health of local keiki and families first by designing streamlined systems that work.” Click here to learn more about the Integrated Infant and Early Childhood Behavioral Health Plan. To get involved with the implementation of the IECBH Plan, or if there are questions about the Plan, please contact:
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Keiko Nitta, Hawaiʻi State Department of Health, Children with Special Health Needs Branch: email@example.com Justina Acevedo-Cross, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org Kerrie Urosevich, Early Childhood Action Strategy: email@example.com ###
About Association for Infant Mental Health Hawaiʻi The Hawaii Association for Infant Mental Health, AIMH HI, is a Hawaiʻi based 501(c)(3) with the intention of promoting the social and emotional health of Hawaiʻi’s youngest by building commitment and capacity for our keiki to regulate emotions, form secure primary relationships and explore the environment with curiosity as the basis of sound mental health. Our work is done through partnerships, public education, professional training, consultation, and public policy. Our work is grounded in set of nationally recognized competencies for which we hold the license in Hawaiʻi to Endorse © Infant Mental Health specialist and practitioners. About Early Childhood Action Strategy Since 2012, The Early Childhood Action Strategy (ECAS) has brought together government and nongovernment organizations to improve the system of care for Hawai'i's youngest keiki and their families. Using a collective impact model, ECAS teams work to identify and implement systems-level strategies to ensure that more babies who are born healthy, more young children are developing ontrack, more children enter kindergarten school-ready and more children are thriving by third grade. About Executive Office on Early Learning/Head Start State Collaboration Office The Executive Office on Early Learning was established by Act 178, Session Laws of Hawai‘i 2012. EOEL is charged with working across state departments, organizations, and sectors toward a comprehensive and integrated early childhood system for the state. Our vision is that every child in Hawaiʻi has access to high-quality early childhood development and learning experiences, which lay the foundation for lifelong well-being. We work toward this mission through system coordination work as well as administering the EOEL Public Prekindergarten Program. About Hawai‘i Community Foundation With 105 years of community service, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF) is one of the leading philanthropic institutions in the state. HCF is a steward of more than 1,000 funds, including over 300 scholarship funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities. In 2020, HCF distributed $142.4 million in grants and contracts statewide, including $9.2 million in scholarships. HCF also serves as a resource on community issues and trends in the nonprofit sector. About Hawaiʻi State Department of Health’s Children with Special Health Needs Branch Children with Special Health Needs Branch goals are: (a) all children and youth with special healthcare needs, including young children with developmental delays, will receive appropriate services to reach optimal health, growth, and development; and (b) access to quality healthcare shall be assured through the development of a comprehensive, coordinated community-based, family-centered, culturally competent system of care. Areas of focus include newborn metabolic and hearing screening, developmental screening, early childhood, early intervention, children with special health needs, transition to adult healthcare, lead poisoning prevention, and genetics.