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Hawaii community action agencies.

Individuals in Hawaii who need a job or grant can turn to a community action agency. The non-profits provide various forms of assistance to low to moderate income families, seniors, and the working poor. Programs are focused on providing self-sufficiency, employment, short term financial aid for housing and energy bills as well as other assistance.

Employment and education programs in Hawaii

Head Start can help families throughout Hawaii. It will assist both the child while also emphasizing the parent's role in children’s overall development as parents are their best advocate and teacher.

The program helps prepare children or infants for preschool. It can offer education, health care, food, and more. It also encourages good parenting practices and provides lessons to promote parent-child interactions and learning with age appropriate activities. A number of social service and employment resources are available to the parent as part of this statewide program. Head Start is a great way to strengthen parent-child relationships and really prepare your child for school.

The Youth Services Education Program helps individuals under the age of 21 complete their high school education, gain new skills, and maybe even find a job. The Hawaii program offers classes for both in-school and out-of-school youth. Classroom attendance allows participants the opportunity to gain life skills that will enable people to become productive members of the community and increase their employability. At the end of the program, students who are successful will be presented with their high school equivalency diploma in a graduation ceremony. This will then often lead to the employment program, which is referenced below.

Youth Services Employment Program offers a wide variety of services, including job training and placement. This as well is provided for both out-of-school and in-school youth that are under the age of 21. It offers occupational and leadership skills training, on-going individual and group counseling, and cultural awareness. Using federal government and state resources, students are able to explore various employment options as part of the program.




Individuals over the age of 55 may benefit from the Hawaii Senior Community Services Employment Program, or SCSEP. This is the federal government program that falls under the Title V of the Older Americans Act. It is administered by the Honolulu Community Action Program, Inc. (HCAP) and it is granted through the State Department of Labor Workforce Development Division.

SCSEP can provide seniors aged 55 and older with meaningful part-time subsidized hands-on training, which will also pay them a minimal salary and may even allow them to access benefits. Participants will also be able to work with a case manager from a community agency in order to get help with finding a job in the state of Hawaii. Dozens of locations across Hawaii offer employment training or even jobs in fields such as receptionist, teacher's aide, janitorial, yard maintenance, program aide, office clerk, kitchen helper, day-care aide, etc.

Some centers may offer day care or after school services. Agencies may also call these programs the Ha Initiative or other names. Many provide children the ability to learn and grow by helping them explore the worlds of technology, science, engineering & math. Some may have minimal fees, and other programs may be free. The centers can provide participants an after-school snack, tutoring, a chance to meet other kids and enjoy exciting, hands-on science projects and computer activities.

Various community action employment programs help client’s secure meaningful employment. It can involve helping someone find a new job (if they were unemployed) or maybe gain new skills so they can find a better one. The goal is to help people find employment that pays livable wages and help them achieve economic self-sufficiency. Clients work with a case manager in order to develop the confidence, motivation, and problem-solving techniques needed to enter Hawaii’s job market.

Education is a key to a higher income and self-sufficiency. Evidence shows that higher levels of education are generally associated with a better income. Agencies support policies for low-income parents and children, and programs offer them the potential for lasting economic security.

Grants for energy bills, housing, and other financial aid

Grants for paying utility bills are offered from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This federal government and state of Hawaii resource is offered once a year by community action agencies to low income and senior households that need assistance in paying their electric or natural gas bills.

The Energy Crisis Intervention component of LIHEAP offers financial assistance for households whose electricity or gas has been shut off or if the individual is faced with a disconnection notice. The “regular” utility bill payment assistance will offer an energy credit for households having difficulty paying their gas or electricity bills on time, and the credit will be given directly to your energy provider.

Weatherization is an energy efficiency program that is offered by your community action agency using government funds. It helps lower income individuals and families reduce utility costs and energy consumption through free energy saving improvements devices, including insulation, solar water heater systems, caulking, and even energy conservation education. Many people who receive TANF or SSI cash assistance payments are automatically enrolled. However priority for weatherization and energy conservation services is generally given to elderly persons (ages 60 and over), families with young children, persons with disabilities, and households in Hawaii with high energy burdens.

Hawaii Early Learning Centers are available to preschool aged children at multiple locations. Children, teenagers, and students are provided with a safe learning environment to prepare for kindergarten or additional learning opportunities. Breakfast, snacks, lunch, and classes are included in the daily routines of these centers.





Homeless emergency shelters are located across the state. Many non-profit community agencies work with charities and churches to provide overnight shelter for homeless individuals and families. The locations can help stabilize their lives and also offer them a safe place to take control of their living situation.

Some agencies may offer a homeless stipend program. This can include transitional housing sites which provide safe and decent shelters for up to 24 months & assistance towards permanent housing. The goal of this program is to help homeless persons and people who were evicted find permanent housing through a coordinated effort of financial, health, and social services.

Outreach is also offered to the homeless in Hawaii. Case managers and social workers provide services including intake, referral and other needed services to eligible unsheltered homeless persons. The objective is to assist individuals in the progression toward a healthier, more stable living condition with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency (including a job) and permanent housing.

The shelter Plus Care Program can provide subsidized rental housing and support services for chronically homeless individuals with chronic substance abuse. This can include short term rental assistance.

The Nutrition Congregate Meals Program provides nutritionally balanced meals and food at congregate sites to seniors and the elderly. The centers also offer socialization and other supportive services to promote the health and well-being of persons 60 years of age and older.

Meals On Wheels is often offered at the same time. This program delivers free meals to elderly homebound and seniors across the state. Many of the clients have limited income, may lack skills to select and prepare nourishing well balanced meals and/or have limited mobility. Individuals supported by Meals on Wheels also will generally have little family support to assist with preparation of a meal.

Locations of community action agencies in Hawaii

Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council
Address: 47 Rainbow Drive
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Telephone number is (808) 961-2681
The largest community action agency in the state. Thousands of lower income families receive support from the center every year. The location can help people apply for emergency utility bill assistance, weatherization, and educational programs such as Head Start.




Honolulu Community Action Program, Inc.
33 South King Street, Suite 300
Honolulu, HI 96813-4323
Dial (808) 521-4531
This is another of the primary centers. Seniors, children, and others benefit from resources available. This may be the leading non-profit in Hawaii. They administer many federal government benefit and grant programs, including utility bill assistance from LIHEAP, Head start, and weatherization. Other resources include Kumuhonua transitional housing, job training, and VITA income tax preparation. Read Honolulu Community Action Agency Program.

Kauai Economic Opportunity Inc.
Location is 2804 Wehe Road
Lihue, HI 96766
Call (808) 245-4077 for intake.
The community action agency offers applications to grants for bills ranging from utility expenses to security deposits and more. Early learning is for children, clients can enroll into TANF job training, and receive other support. More on programs from Kauai Economic Opportunity.

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.
99 Mahalani Street
Wailuku, Hawaii 96753
Main telephone number - (808) 249-2990


By Jon McNamara

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