STEPS cares for young keiki

LIHUE — Current research emphasizes that early years in a child’s life are critical to the overall learning and social progress.

During his tenure, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie created the Executive Office on Early Learning Pre-Kindergarten Program. There are two such programs on Kauai, at Kekaha and Eleele elementary schools.

“This was one of his legacies,” said Jeannie Odo, a coordinator for the Sequenced Transition to Education into the Public Schools Parent and Child Fair, held Saturday at Kukui Grove Center. “Both of the programs on Kauai are enrolled to capacity.”

The fair offered resources for parents, and soon-to-be-parents, aimed at smoothing the transition from early education programs into the public school system.

Other resources included organizations hosting children’s games, hands-on activities and information about fun-filled educational programs on Kauai.

Hosted during April, which is the Month of the Young Child, the STEPS Parent and Child Fair recognizes that the future prosperity of the state is dependent on the healthy development of Hawaii’s young children, and parents and caregivers with children facing the years in public schools benefit from the help of professionals, government agencies and school and community organizations, according to a proclamation.

Project STEPS, a key sponsor of the fair, is a national outreach program designed to help public school educators help students facing various academic challenges.

Cathy Shanks of P.A.T.C.H., another of the coordinators, said the STEPS Parent and Child Fair has been taking place for the past 13 years.

Shanks said this year’s fair featured more than two dozen vendors offering services to help young children, including representatives from the recently formed pre-kindergarten programs.

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