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Health & Wellness

Reducing Toxic Stress for Our Youngest Keiki

Nearly half of all keiki in Hawai‘i experience childhood adversity, which can negatively impact their mental and physical health not only at the time, but also long into the future.

Little girl smiling in front of her chalk art

Promising Minds is Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s initiative dedicated to improving early childhood behavioral health by investing in the future of our keiki, especially those at risk of trauma, abuse and neglect, or who are dealing with the aftereffects.

Promising Minds launched in 2019 and has two goals: One is to ensure that at-risk children ages 0-5 are not experiencing behavioral issues or delays. Two, that children and parents who have already experienced issues of trauma, neglect or abuse get the tools they need to become more resilient. In 2019, three cohorts of early childhood professionals—home-visiting practitioners, preschool staff, and child care staff—received intensive training, peer learning, and reflection time on trauma-informed strategies.

Over the course of an 8- to 10-month intensive professional development series, 45 participants became better equipped to address trauma and support children. They learned from experts but also from their peers, getting actionable ideas such as how to adapt intake processes to better serve families.

As the next steps, Promising Minds will

  • Launch a Fellows Program for behavioral health clinicians.
  • Strengthen ways for all different types of practitioners working on early adversity issues to connect with each other, find and share vetted research and information.
  • Partner to develop policy and data solutions to better address children and families in the critical early years.

“When it comes to trauma, when care comes from a place of aloha, you’re going to be OK. If you respond with aloha, you’re not going to continue to traumatize them; you’re going to help them heal.”
- Promising Minds Program Grantee

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