An on-site children’s facility was blessed today at a plantation-style affordable housing village near Sand Island.
A Hawaiian blessing by kahu Hailama Farden and the untying of a maile lei by the children of Kahau’iki Village officially opened the on-site daycare and preschool on the makai side of Nimitz Highway, between Ke’ehi Lagoon Park and Sand Island. Ben Naki is vice president of early education programs for Parents and Children Together, the organization that will operate the facility.
“A lot of the stuff that we do on the preschool side is to get kids ready for kindergarten. Not only the kids but also the parents. We engage the parents in understanding where their kids are developmentally, what they need to do to get ready and also the families to get ready for kindergarten entry. Make sure the kids come to school every day, they’re on time, the importance of nutrition and stuff like that. But, really, it’s just about play, having a good time and having them enjoy going somewhere to learn.”
The center will open to the public in August to accommodate a total of 20 pre-school children and 16 infants and toddlers. Staff will also be able to potty train the children. Ryan Kusumoto, president and CEO of Parents and Children Together, says local foundation grants will keep tuition costs lower for resident families.
“The majority of our funding does come from the federal Head Start Program but it covers basically a six-hour day. But, we know that parents work longer than that and that they need services beyond that time. So that funding comes in and provides the scholarships for that extended day. So, it could range anywhere from a hundred dollars to five-hundred dollars to cover those expenses for those kids.”Currently, 30 families are housed at Kahau’iki Village and pay 900-dollars a month for a two bedroom unit and 700 for a one bedroom. Phase Two of the project will begin in January after plans are finalized. Aio foundation chair Duane Kurisu, who organized the public-private funded project, says volunteer donations have stepped up.
“This project is self-sufficient so it doesn’t need fundraising for its operations so the rents that are paid supports maintenance, 24/7 security, landscape maintenance and we even have a fund for future repair and maintenance. This preschool is also self-sustaining. So, hopefully, this is a model for others to replicate not only here but across the United States.”
Mayor Kirk Caldwell agrees. He says once the 150 homes are completed for 600 adults and children, he hopes to replicate the project elsewhere on O’ahu.