Deborah Zysman, Executive Director, Children's Action Fund
What We Heard
January 9, 2017
Calling all Superheroes
At our January luncheon we had the privilege of hearing from Deborah Zysman Executive Director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN). She shared with us the amazing work done by HCAN and from where she draws her motivation. Hawaii Children's Action Network (HCAN) is an independent, nonpartisan children's policy and advocacy non-profit organization. Its mission is to build a unified voice, educating & advocating for Hawaii's children.
Deborah's personal connection to caring for others comes from the strong women in her family. One grandmother was a union organizer, the other a holocaust survivor. She comes from tough stock where fairness, justice and equity were issues discussed at the dinner table.
HCAN takes a long range view to mitigate poverty and inequity. They are focusing on investing in children, investing in the future. Child and family issues are not the “soft stuff”. Family issues have a significant impact on the health of our economy. The future of our children is the future of our community. Investing in schools and child care now will build the workforce of the future.
“If we want to work on social justice we need to start with kids.”
Poverty and inequity play a key role in health and welfare of our keiki. There is a strong correlation between the developmental level of a child at age 5 and their probability of graduating from high school and college.
Deborah shared some startling statistics:
-- 15% of Hawaii children live in extreme poverty
-- 51% of Hawaii keiki in public schools had no preschool
-- 90% of child’s brain develops by age 5, so early disparities mean kids playing catch up for the rest
of their lives.
Children who fail at school are less employable and less productive in our society. Investment in early childhood education and improved early screenings for sight, hearing and developmental issues will have long term benefits for the children and our community.
Opportunities to be a superhero for Hawaii’s keiki include volunteering your time and talents, becoming a sponsor (donations welcome) becoming an advocate who communicates with policy makers, write letters and lobbies for our children. (www.hawaii-can.org).