100 years

Strengthening Hawai‘i’s Communities
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Support for our Keiki—and Our Economy

The Home-Based Child Care Emergency Fund

Before COVID-19 reached our islands, Chanelle Aina-Paaoao had been caring for the children of working families from her home in Hilo for seven years. “They were all like family,” she says. “When there was a party, they were all invited.”

Two of the parents she served were registered nurses; others worked in county government and rehabilitation. The coronavirus lockdown brought sharp fluctuations in enrollment and a slew of new health and safety guidelines that were difficult and costly to comply with. “At the beginning, I was thinking, ‘Do I have to shut my doors? I didn’t know,’” says Aina-Paaoao.

In May, the Hawai‘i Community Foundation launched the Home-Based Child Care (HBCC) Emergency Fund to provide financial relief for home-based providers of child care for the families of health care and other essential workers. Often, home-based care is the most trusted, flexible, and affordable option for families, and can be the best or only option available for care during nontraditional hours, like evenings, nights, and weekends.

The Fund helps prevent closure of these small, family-owned businesses, which help form what Justina Acevedo-Cross, director of Community Grants and Initiatives for Hawai‘i Community Foundation, calls “the foundation of a functioning local economy,” where parents can get back to work with confidence. In Hawai‘i, approximately 66 percent of keiki under age 6 had all available parents working, according to 2018 data. Ensuring these families have safe child care options offers kids an important foundation for lifelong learning and serve as a critical component in supporting Hawaiʻiʻs economic recovery.

Aina-Paaoao calls the grant she received from the HBCC Fund “a blessing.” She was able to keep her doors open, and could even purchase supplies for families she served who might be having a hard time providing their own diapers, formula, food, and snacks. One mom she bought supplies for “had tears rolling down her face,” says Aina-Paaoao. “But I told her, ‘I was blessed. And now I get to bless you folks.’ I’m so grateful.”

The Home-Based Child Care Emergency Grant program is funded by $100,000 from the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund of Hawai‘i Community Foundation and $100,000 from the Home Grown program of the Health Federation of Philadelphia.

In May 2020, 125 grants were awarded to licensed home-based child care providers across the state, totaling $234,500 in emergency grant funds across every county. The Home-Based Child Care Emergency Fund grantees collectively serve over 500 children.

Home-Based Health Care

Chanelle Aina-Paaoao, with the first baby who registered at her home-based child care center in Hilo seven years ago.