HONOLULU – The Keiki Caucus, a bipartisan group of House and Senate members, today unveiled its 2015 legislative package of priority measures that addresses a variety of issues related to ensuring the protection and welfare of Hawaii’s children and youth. The package includes five key areas of focus including safety and well-being, education, health and early intervention, local food and healthy meals, and affordable housing.
In a press conference held this afternoon, state lawmakers and community advocates emphasized three key proposals. They include creating a 5-year Safe Places for Youth pilot program, establishing the R.E.A.C.H. (Resources for Enrichment, Athletics, Culture, and Health) program in the Office of Youth Services, and implementing policies that address bullying and create safer schools for children.
“The driving force behind this package and the collaboration between all stakeholders is to give our children and youth the best opportunities now and into the future,” said Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland (13 Liliha, Palama, Iwilei, Kalihi, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Lower Tantalus, Downtown), co-chair of the Keiki Caucus. “This includes providing the necessary after-school programs and services that provide our keiki with a safe, inspiring environments and continuing to support bullying awareness and prevention initiatives.
“Our keiki represent our state’s most precious resource. They are our future and the reason why we need to invest in the youth today for a better tomorrow,” said Rep. John Mizuno, co-chair of the Keiki Caucus,
“The REACH program is poised to have a significant impact on Hawaii’s future. It provides middle school students with dynamic after-school activities that keep them engaged in school and on track towards graduation,” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui. “With the support of the Keiki Caucus, I hope to see the REACH bill move through the Legislature successfully.” said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui
The Keiki Caucus is a bipartisan group of 27 House and Senate members joined by a community resource group of over 150 children and youth advocates, various non-profits, educators, youth, parent groups, researchers, agency officials, businesses and other experts working to develop initiatives to address a variety of issues affecting Hawaii’s children and youth, including education, health, child safety, youth development, food security, and other critical issues. The Keiki Caucus is co-chaired by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland and Rep. John Mizuno.