The state Department of Education (DOE) is committing $6 million over the next three years for early childhood education as a part of its Race to the Top initiatives, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced today. As a result, about 800 additional Hawai'i children in low-income areas will be subsidized to attend preschool.
The subsidies will benefit pre-K students living in the "Zones of School Innovation," which are the Nanakuli/Wai'anae and Ka'u/Kea'au/Pahoa areas. The DOE is implementing many school improvement initiatives in these "Zones," which will provide the public with a preview of the transformation that will be possible in all of Hawai'i's schools.
At a press conference this morning at Wai'anae Early Learning Center -- where 14 students are already receiving state subsidies this year -- Governor Abercrombie reiterated the importance of investing in Hawai'i's youngest children.
"The New Day Plan is about investing in the strength of Hawai'i's people, and supporting our youngest children is one of the best investments we can make," said Governor Abercrombie. "We are giving more students the opportunity to go to preschool and establishing the foundation for learning."
About 75 children in the Zones of School Innovation are enrolled in preschools through the Preschool Open Doors, a statewide program administered by PATCH for the state Department of Human Services. With this additional funding, more children in the Zones of School Innovation will be able to participate in the program this year.
Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Matayoshi announced that PATCH is accepting applications for children to receive preschool subsidies. Participating in early childhood programs, such as preschool, helps young children prepare to enter kindergarten.
"Providing our keiki with a seamless transition from pre-K to kindergarten is an invaluable first step in setting the foundation for future academic success," Superintendent Matayoshi said.
"This is an example of the kind of investment our state needs to ensure our families can afford to send their child to preschool," said Terry Lock, the Governor's Coordinator on Early Childhood. "We will be continuing to look for partnerships among government agencies, nonprofits, businesses and other community programs to help our youngest children."