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.

For Families

  • For general information about options that may be available to you, click the following:  Families Flyer.
  • To find out what programs may be located near you:
    • Contact PATCH (click on the link to the “Families Flyer” above)
  • District resource guides:

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.

Resources for You

  • For general information about options that may be available to you, click the following:  Families Flyer.
  • To find out what programs may be located near you:

    • Contact PATCH (click on the link to the “Families Flyer” above)
    • View the preschool density map on Good Beginnings Alliance’s website.
  • District resource guides:

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:

Pre-Plus Program

Pre-Plus has expanded access to affordable and high-quality early childhood education for three- to four-year old children from low-income families across the state. The program is a public-private partnership to develop and build preschool facilities on public elementary school campuses and contract private preschool providers to operate them.

Pre-Plus Philosophy and Goals of Service

All of Hawaii’s children should have the opportunity to attend a quality early childhood education program. With a positive preschool experience, the children will be healthy, curious, socially aware, and ready to start kindergarten with their classmates.

The goals of Pre-Plus are to:

  •   Expand the number of preschool enrollment opportunities for disadvantaged children ages 3 and 4;
  •   Provide quality child care programs in which children are safe, healthy, and ready to succeed; and
  •   Promote school readiness and prepare children for a successful transition into kindergarten.

Target Population and Enrollment

Pre-Plus was built on the premise that it would provide preschool opportunities to disadvantaged children who in the past would not have that opportunity due to lack of financial resources and availability of services.

• Target population for Pre-Plus is all children ages 3 and 4 who are not currently attending preschool.
• Priority for enrollment is given to those children whose family income falls at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
• Pre-Plus is not a free program, but most families who enroll their children in Pre-Plus would qualify, based on their income, for the Hawaii Department of Human Services’ child care subsidy programs such as Child Care Connection Hawaii and Preschool Open Doors. Pre-Plus programs operated by Head Start agencies prescribe eligibility for participation in accordance with the Head Start Act regulations.
• Enrollment priority is also given to children who reside in the school district of the Pre-Plus site, although children may be accepted from any school district.

For more information regarding a specific Pre-Plus program, please contact the service provider for the site you are interested in.

Existing Pre-Plus sites and the Contracted Preschool Providers
• Aiea Elementary
• Ewa Elementary
• Jefferson Elementary
• Ka’ala Elementary
• Kailua Elementary
• Kuhio Elementary
• Salt Lake Elementary
• Wahiawa Elementary
• Waiau Elementary
• Waimanalo Elementary
• Waipahu Elementary
Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) Head Start or (808) 847-2400
• Fern Elementary
Parents and Children Together (PACT) Head Start or (808) 842-5996

• Keonepoko Elementary
Parents and Children Together (PACT) Head Start or (808) 965-9180
• Mountain View Elementary
Parents and Children Together (PACT) Head Start or (808) 961-0570

• Kilauea Elementary
Child and Family Service (CFS) Head Start or (808) 240-2817

Pre-Plus is a public-private partnership that delivers preschool opportunities to up to 350 of Hawaii’s children and assists the State in achieving its community goal that “all of Hawaii’s keiki will be safe, healthy, and ready for school.”

The initiative evolved from the work of the School Readiness Partnership, a collaborative of educators, early childhood advocates, and policymakers, who identified the availability of quality early learning programs, especially in low-income areas, as one of the most pressing issues affecting the State’s early education system in 2000. The group noted that even if families had sufficient funds for tuition, there was still an inadequate supply of early learning facilities or preschool slots available to offer needed services.

The concept of Pre-Plus came about in 2001 as the State and private agencies, including the Good Beginnings Alliance, Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children, Head Start, and Hawaii State Legislature’s Keiki Caucus, collaborated to develop workable solutions to the lack of spaces in existing preschools to accommodate the growing number of children needing early childhood program services. Efforts were rewarded in May 2002 when the Legislature appropriated $5 million in capital improvement project funds over two years – $2.5 million in fiscal year 2003, and the same amount in fiscal year 2004 – to build preschools on public elementary school campuses throughout the State. Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono’s office assumed planning oversight of this project until December 2002, when project oversight was transferred to the Hawaii Department of Human Services (DHS).

Over the years, 17 preschool facilities have been built on public elementary school campuses across the state, with contracts awarded to private preschool providers to operate these facilities: there are 13 on Oahu, 2 on Hawaii Island, 1 on Kauai, and 1 on Maui. The State agencies directly involved with Pre-Plus have included the Department of Accounting and General Services, the Department of Education, and DHS.