Strategic Intention: Talking the Talk

Posted on Mar 8, 2017 in Main, NEWS

Talking the Talk: Messaging ‘Ohana Nui

Whether through provision of DHS benefits, programs, and services or the support provided to the divisions and agencies that deliver them, our collective commitment is the same: to improve the well-being of Hawai‘i’s families. Our implementation of ‘Ohana Nui aims to make strategic, intentional changes that enable us to reach our commitment even more effectively. ‘Ohana Nui is based on national data and best practices that a multigenerational philosophy of service delivery is more effective than one that separately addresses individuals’ needs. This column will bring you strategies, success stories, and regular updates as we work across the department to intentionally create better outcomes for Hawai‘i through ‘Ohana Nui.

Our ‘Ohana Nui initiative is based on the national framework and principles of 2Gen, which was developed by Ascend at the Aspen Institute. Because DHS is leading the State of Hawai‘i in applying 2Gen principles, we have significant support and resources, including access to best practices that the Aspen Institute has developed.

One of the resources is a Messaging Guide, which provides tips for the most effective communication with audiences such as state and federal policymakers, the families we serve, and even each other. In this month’s column, we share top line messaging which you can experiment with. It is our hope that your divisions, staff offices, and attached agencies are abuzz as you and your colleagues talk about how ‘Ohana Nui is being applied to the work you do.

What is ‘Ohana Nui?Why does ‘Ohana Nui work?What makes ‘Ohana Nui effective?How does ‘Ohana Nui generate strong public support?
‘Ohana Nui is an antipoverty initiative that provides support for children, their parents and grandparents (the whole family) together. This approach proves effective at breaking children and their families free from the traps of poverty and empowering them to live up to their full potential. ‘Ohana Nui helps children and families get the education and workforce training, social supports like parenting skills, and healthcare they need to create a legacy of economic stability and overall well-being that passes from one generation to the next.
Research shows the impact that a parent’s education, economic stability, and overall health can have on a child’s life trajectory. Similarly, children’s education and health development inspire parents and set the entire family on a more secure path. An ‘Ohana Nui approach helps both (or all) generations make progress together and gets parents closer to fulfilling their hope that their children will do better than them.
‘Ohana Nui removes unnecessary silos and integrates antipoverty programs, streamlines services, and works across generations, so efforts are informed by and make more sense for children and families. In short, ‘Ohana Nui gets better results. It ensures that programs meant to empower children and families are equitable in their offerings and availability and are rigorously measured to confirm they work.

‘Ohana Nui (aka 2Gen in other jurisdictions) is catching-on at the local, state, and federal levels because of its common-sense approach and impressive results. The ‘Ohana Nui approach has bipartisan support among voters and policymakers.

Public support for an ‘Ohana Nui approach is strong. According to a 2016 survey by Lake Research, 76% of Americans believe that if we want to make sure children from low-income families are successful in their early learning, then we also have to invest in their parents’ economic well-being. Today 86% of Americans favor such a program as a means to raise families out of poverty. Moreover, 74% of Americans across both parties favor the approach, even if it means tax increases to introduce such programs.

Bipartisan polling conducted in 2016 showed that a significant majority of the public – from both parties – supports a 2Gen approach. In particular, the majority supports programs that target both parents and their children. So, parents receive education and skills training to get better jobs and at the same time their children get a good start with Head Start, early education, and quality schools.

Support for the specific policies that comprise a 2Gen approach is both broad and deep. Americans support creating partnerships that build upon existing policies as well as new policy innovations.

We encourage you to use these messages – strengthened further with real-life success stories from the work you do – to talk with our partners, the families we serve and each other as we take a fresh look at what we do every day through the lens of ‘Ohana Nui. We are interested in your feedback as we work within DHS on implementation of ‘Ohana Nui and at the national level with Ascend and other jurisdictions. Your feedback will be helpful in informing future communication strategies. Thank you in advance for your help.