Proposals to increase preschool attendance and stabilize child care centers are receiving the most attention in this legislative session.
When Michelle Rocca started searching for child care for her newborn son in 2019, she was surprised to find that there were only two state-licensed providers in her central Honolulu neighborhood, and both of them had months-long waitlists.
Rocca said it was a “white knuckle” experience scrambling to find a place to leave her son so she could return to work when he was 6 months old — a common experience for parents in Hawaii, where there are roughly four times as many children under the age of 5 as there are child care seats.
Helping working parents like Rocca — whose husband stays home now to take care of their son after preschool ends at 1:30 p.m. — has been a priority for education advocates and lawmakers during this legislative session.
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“Overall, I think this was a difficult year for tax credit bills,” said David Sun-Miyashiro, executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN, adding that he thinks there is solid interest in incentivizing work-based learning for students. “We are exploring a wide range of options moving forward, including reorganizing the structure of the bill as a grant program.”