In March 2008, the UH Center for Pacific Island Studies sponsored a conference called “Micronesian Voices in Hawaii” at the East-West Center. Micronesian leaders and community representatives participated in a two-day conference sharing the history and relationship with the U.S, as well as personal stories. The feedback gathered from attendees after the two-day conference was an overwhelming need for a “one stop shop.” Follow up conferences and additional meetings have been held on O‘ahu and the neighbor islands with feedback that continues to highlight the need for connecting Micronesian individuals and families to services.
In August 2014, Assistant Secretary for the Insular Areas, Esther Kia‘aina called a meeting at the Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services and it was attended by over 60 Micronesian government representatives, community members and Hawai‘i State and Federal representatives. At that time, a need for connecting Micronesian families with services was again cited as an unmet need.
The need in the Micronesian community persists; however, funding is needed to enable and equip such a center. At a recent presentation entitled “Compacts of Free Association: Trends and Challenges in Growing Migration” at the East-West Center, Dr. David Gootnick and Assistant Director Emil Friberg from the U.S. General Accounting Office provided background of funding that has been implemented through allocation and legislation for amendment of the COFA agreement, which authorizes and appropriates $30 million annually (2004-2023) for grants to “aid in defraying costs” incurred from an increase in demand for education, health, social services or public safety. The Micronesian leaders must be mentored in how to access these funds to make much needed services available to the FAS community.