Parents and Families

Kindergarten Age Change

Starting August 2014, a child must be 5 on or before July 31 to enter kindergarten. The change is a result of Act 183 of 2010 and Act 178 of 2012 (Session Laws of Hawaii), which noted that younger children may be more appropriately placed in a prekindergarten program.

Click here for more information from the Hawaii Department of Education.

We know that the beginning years of a child’s life are critical and don’t want our children to miss a year of early learning.

To help prepare for this important change, the Executive Office on Early Learning will be providing a series of resources for families, preschool providers, and Hawaii Department of Education staff. We will post more resources as they become available.

Resources for Families

Early Learning Matters

More than 85 percent of brain development occurs from birth to age 5. Enrolling your child in a school readiness program prepares them to learn—cognitively, linguistically, socially, emotionally, and physically. It will give your child the experiences he or she needs—sharing with others, waiting one’s turn, communicating, working with a partner, and becoming a confident, independent individual—to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

Early learning is important to the community as well. Studies show that children who have been given school readiness opportunities are more likely to grow into healthy, capable, and contributing adults.

Head Start and Early Head Start

Part-day, part year services are provided at no cost to families that qualify based on certain criteria, including:

  • Household incomes that meet he Federal Poverty Guidelines for Hawaii
  • Children in foster care
  • Children with a disability as certified through DOE
  • Homeless
  • Receiving public assistance via Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Applications are accepted year-round, and are not selected on a first-come, first-served basis but using established selection criteria. Families with children birth to 5 years of age are highly encouraged to apply, and can contact individual programs located throughout Hawaii: Hawaii Head Start.

Preschool Open Doors Program

The 2013 legislative session culminated in an expansion of the Preschool Open Doors program (POD) of the Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS), a first down payment towards developing a high-quality state-funded early learning system and ensuring our keiki are prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

POD promotes school readiness by providing child care subsidies to eligible families for the year prior to kindergarten. For the 2014-2015 school year, the priority will be children born August 1 – December 31, 2009, who are underserved or at-risk. Eligible families select the DHS-licensed group child care facility (i.e., preschool) of their choice. DHS contracts with PATCH to administer POD.  The subsidies assist with payments to DHS-licensed group child care facilities (e.g., preschools).To find out more about POD, please visit the following websites: