“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
– Jane Howard
The concept of family is universal. But not only does every individual need a family; most families could use a place like Center on the Family (COF), which conducts research on numerous issues to improve the quality of life for Hawai‘i’s families, including children and elders, and to aid those who work with them. Here are a few of their accomplishments:
The Data Center is the most comprehensive collection of information on Hawai‘i’s families, children, and elderly. Its many indicators in health, education, safety, economic security, family well-being, and community engagement help to increase public awareness and inform decisionmaking with respect to policies, programs, and services. A newly redesigned Data Center, with updated and expanded information, will be launched this fall.
COF’s early childhood focus seeks to improve young children’s school-readiness by supporting educators, care providers, and families. One project, Hui A‘o Mua, improves early literacy skills of atrisk preschool children in Head Start classrooms by giving teachers intensive professional development and support for implementing an evidence-based curriculum. Teachers receive workshops, in-class coaching, technical assistance, and college courses, while families participate in workshops and a weekly home curriculum. Teachers, parents, and students all attest to the success of the project, which has served about 1,000 children on O‘ahu.
The Center also conducts applied research on quality-of-life issues. For example, they have partnered with the state’s Homeless Programs Office to analyze and disseminate homelessness service utilization data to inform policies, improve programs and services, and increase public awareness. Because of this research, the homeless services budget was doubled after COF’s first report (2006) and sustained in the following years, and the planning and resource allocation process was tuned to reflect a better understanding of the homeless population. COF has corrected many myths about homelessness in Hawai‘i while promoting important public and policy dialogues aimed at ending it altogether.
The Center has impacted numerous individuals, families, and community organizations throughout its 20-year history of research, education, and outreach, and it looks forward to many more decades of fostering strong, healthy families supported by their communities.