Honolulu (KHON2) – As students head back to school, Keiki O Ka ‘Aina wants local families to know about the variety of Early Childhood Education programs for families with children aged 5 years and younger.
Executive Director Momi Akana says, “KOKA offers programs to support moms to be with home visits, preschool programs, parent participation programs, and programs to support parents with parenting skills. We also offer programs to educate ‘ohana on Hawaiian traditions, culture and language. Finally, because of the economic challenges facing our ‘ohana, we offer a tuition assistance program to help our families with the expenses of online education including childcare costs and costs for technical equipment.”
There is more space than normal this year, according to Melodie Vega, Early Childhood Education Director. Vega says, “Our programs normally are about 70% filled at this point in our recruitment process. This year we are barely at 50% capacity because ‘ohana are unclear about how Hawaii’s education system overall will work this year, and that has an effect on what they decide to do with their youngest keiki.”
Keiki O Ka ‘Aina has a program to meet different family needs from online virtual preschool and parent participation programs to home visits that can be done in person or over zoom.
“All children learn better when they are face to face and working with their hands to explore the world around them,” explains Akana. “But lack of educational opportunities affects low income families, and children with disabilities even more. For the most part, they don’t have the resources to afford tutoring or private extracurricular activities. There is also the food program that helps to provide healthy meals for families, special education services and counseling. And every parents favorite, the before and after school programs.”
KOKA provides help through Hawaii Early Learning Partnership (HELP) for Child Care Tuition Assistance Program. It’s designed to help qualified parents with monthly financial aid for child care costs for keiki ages 12 & Under. Child care includes relative care in the child’s home environment, infant / toddler care, group child care, pre-school, and before and after school care.