Report: Kauai needs more early education opportunities

LIHUE — About 25 percent of Kauai’s keiki are not kindergarten-ready, according to the 2017 Kauai Early Childhood Care and Education Report under the Keiki to Career Kauai Initiative.

Currently, 70 percent of keiki are enrolled in ECCE.

The report said that costs, not enough ECCE providers, bad locations and education quality are reasons kids don’t attend ECCE.

The largest discrepancies are in Wailua/Anahola (68 percent), Koloa/Poipu (63 percent) and Hanalei/North Shore (59 percent).

“What we overwhelmingly observed is that the lower pay for these early childhood educators greatly affects the number of available teachers” said Marion Paul, president of Kauai Planning and Action Alliance, in a press release.

The goal of the report is to improve the opportunities for keiki to attend an ECCE program to help bridge the “kindergartenreadiness” gap, the release said.

The report is a snapshot of ECCE options on Kauai for children ages 2 years 8 months up to 5 years.

The state Department of Education offers free pre-kindergarten classes to special education students at certain schools. The report recommends expanding this opportunity so all island keiki may participate, which would require state funding.

In addition, the report recommends promoting local education and training opportunities, such as at Kauai Community College or PATCH (People Attentive To Children), for ECCE providers and families to better prepare children for kindergarten.

“Keiki to Career believes that the foundation of a child’s success begins in the home with a loving and supportive family,” said Tad Miura, co-chair of the Keiki to Career Leadership Council. “We want to be sure early education is available to all families who want their keiki to participate.”

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