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Innovative preschool reaches out to homeless

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Associated Press

POSTED:


Homeless and living on a Hawaii beach, Sarah Kanuha never imagined being able to provide preschool for her youngest daughter.

But on Thursday the mother of five watched 4-year-old Aulii Malia Kanuha receive a preschool diploma. Aulii was one of 35 students to graduate from Ka Pa‘a­lana Traveling Preschool, which educates about 700 homeless children each year.

Kanuha found out about the program last year while living at Keaau Beach Park on the Wai­anae Coast. The family has since moved to a shelter.

"Socially she has grown so much," she said. "They blossomed her into this social little butterfly."

Kanuha's oldest child, now 18, received free preschool in Michigan. But when the family moved back to the islands, her three other children never got any preschool. Hawaii, one of the country's most expensive places to live, is one of 10 states with no state-funded pre-kindergarten program, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The Kanuha family is one of many in the country trying to raise children in the face of joblessness and homelessness. An annual survey released this week says 16.4 million children in the U.S. — nearly one-fourth — were living in poverty in 2011, more than a year after the Great Recession officially ended. That's an increase of 3 million kids since 2005, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation survey.

The report showed that nearly half of Hawaii's children didn't attend preschool from 2009 to 2011.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie this week signed a bill that expands the state's existing Preschool Open Doors program to fund subsidies for 900 children. The more than $7 million package is seen as a step toward eventually providing state-funded public preschool but is less than half of what Abercrombie originally proposed. Thousands of kids will lose services when the state's junior kindergarten program for late-born 4-year-olds expires in mid-2015.

Educating children at homeless shelters and tents on the beach, Ka Pa‘a­lana is funded mostly through federal programs, including the Administration for Native Americans.

Because Hawaii's circumstances prevent many families from being able to afford preschool, Ka Pa‘a­lana Director Danny Goya wanted his school to provide quality learning. So he sought to be accredited by the National Association for Education of Young Children, which he calls the "crème de la crème of accreditation."

The association rejected his application when he first applied in 2007. It normally accredits programs with a permanent, physical center, so the preschool set up a tent at a shelter, complete with a playground that now meets the association's standards.

Ninety-five percent of the preschool's beach outreach families are Native Hawaiian, and the program strives to perpetuate Hawaiian culture. Teachers use the culture to teach skills, such as learning to count in English and Hawaiian. The graduation ceremony closed with a Hawaiian prayer, or pule, led by two graduates.

The preschool also incorporates parents and caregivers: Adults spend time with the kids for several hours, then spend the rest of the day receiving skills such as vocational training and GED preparation.

The classes have helped homeless single father Leo Dew with his two daughters, Leo­lani, 6, and Leo­momi, 5.

"We're blessed to have this program," he said after watching Leo­momi graduate.





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Wazdat wrote:
Good for the kids. Its amazing that some people have so many children with NO means to support them. How Sad
on June 29,2013 | 04:04AM
allie wrote:
It could happen to anyone. Congrats to Danny Goya for his excellent program! Beautifully done.
on June 29,2013 | 10:17AM
tiwtsfm wrote:
This is good. Perhaps this method could be used to provide preschool for our other children who's parents cannot afford, or do not have available a private preschool. (Yes, there are places in the State that do not have a preschool available at any price). I especially like the incorporation of parents and caregivers in the education process. Since the State does not seem to have money for preschool, it could solve this problem from a different angle. Since Kindergarten is not mandatory, treat this as preschool, do not expect the children to be "school ready" and teach them these skills in Kindergarten. Then the children would be ready for first grade where the academics really begins. I believe this was the original intent of Kindergarten. There is a lot to be said for getting back to basics.
on June 29,2013 | 05:49AM
false wrote:
If the rest of the state would just keep it simple we could all do so much more. But the "players" have to get their share. Agree whole heartedly with your assessment. We have room on the school campus for children but taking it to the beach is even better.
on June 29,2013 | 06:49AM
allie wrote:
no, pek is necessary. Kindergarten is too late to wait. Sorry, but if Hawaii can afford millions in wasted money for "football programs" at the UH we can afford to offer pre-k to all families. It should be a right. The Legislature dropped the ball on this one.
on June 29,2013 | 07:09AM
soundofreason wrote:
"The Kanuha family is one of many in the country trying to raise children in the face of joblessness and homelessness." >>> Raise? No, just crankin' them out despite her known inability to support them. God,(and Democrats) will provide.
on June 29,2013 | 07:47AM
mbg60 wrote:
Unfortunately yes. And we taxpayers have to foot the bill for them. So while they can lead a comfortable lifestyle in their eyes, we gotta struggle and eek out own existence while supporting them. My family has to eat vienna sausage for breakfast so I can afford preschool while they can eat bacon and eggs and get free preschool.
on June 29,2013 | 08:56AM
tiki886 wrote:
Where was Planned Parenthood? She should have availed herself of that Liberal service, then she wouldn't need an expensive taxpayer babysitting service called "pre-school".
on June 29,2013 | 12:21PM
lee1957 wrote:
Agree, being a baby factory is hardly struggling to raise children. How about a struggling with some birth control. Would love the article to tell us a little about dad(s). Its not the kids fault, but it hard to empathize with mom's struggles.
on June 29,2013 | 12:50PM
Anonymous wrote:
no its us the taxpayer that provide the benefits. I too wonder why she has FIVE kids and no means of support.
on June 29,2013 | 02:43PM
pandadaddy wrote:
I got up to get myself a cold pop and said "Lord Jesus, it's a fire". I got Bronchitis. Ain't nobody got time for that!
on June 29,2013 | 08:02AM
allie wrote:
oHA should be funding all of this
on June 29,2013 | 09:19AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Ninety-five percent of the preschool's beach outreach families are Native Hawaiian. How about Bishop Estate/Kamehameha Schools they have money up the yang.
on June 29,2013 | 10:43AM
tiki886 wrote:
And DHHL should be handling the homeless Hawaiians.

By the way, Kamehameha Schools with almost $10 billion dollars in their trust, only educate 3% of Hawaiian children, The "cream of the crop". These 3% don't need the Princess' help. They would do well at any other private school or public school. It's the other 97% that Kamehameha Schools ignores that needs the help of the Princess' Trust.


on June 29,2013 | 12:25PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I'm happy for these children. But what about the working poor paying tuition for preschool with 2 jobs and just barely making it?
on June 29,2013 | 11:10AM
Anonymous wrote:
what about the working middle class who struggle from paycheck to paycheck??
on June 29,2013 | 02:45PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Thats who I'm talking about.
on June 29,2013 | 08:33PM
lookup wrote:
Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want...but the realization of how much you already have!
on June 29,2013 | 11:22AM
DA_HANDSOME_CHINAMAN wrote:
I thought Kamehameha Schools would help. Didn't Princess Pauahi Bishop said they were to help the "Hawaiian People"? Yes, where is the money! tiki886 And DHHL should be handling the homeless Hawaiians. By the way, Kamehameha Schools with almost $10 billion dollars in their trust, only educate 3% of Hawaiian children, The "cream of the crop". These 3% don't need the Princess' help. They would do well at any other private school or public school. It's the other 97% that Kamehameha Schools ignores that needs the help of the Princess' Trust.
on June 29,2013 | 07:37PM
kailua000 wrote:
how kamehameha schools dishes out money is a joke.
on June 30,2013 | 12:54AM
iwanaknow wrote:
maybe put birth control in the poi?
on June 29,2013 | 09:33PM
kailua000 wrote:
great program! have to ask, why would anyone move back to Hawaii with the high cost of living if they didnt have a job. This creates more of a homeless problem than anything, along with people living the dream of moving to Hawaii then end up on the beach because their money runs out after 3 days in a hotel. 5 kids, homeless. Stop having children. The state probably provides birth control. But good for you mom for finding this program. Educate your children so the cycle does not continue.
on June 30,2013 | 12:53AM
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