Office of Head Start officials visit MEO to offer assistance
A team from the Office of Head Start and Office of Head Start Region 9 (which includes Hawai‘i) visited Maui Economic Opportunity last week to meet with staff and parents and to tour classrooms with the goal of offering assistance in the wake of the wildfires.
As the MEO Head Start center at Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary School remains closed, some of the children have been relocated to other Head Start sites. The Head Start site, while not open at the moment, is the only standing preschool facility in Lahaina.
The team held a Zoom call with nine parents, one from the Lahaina site, and visited MEO Head Start classrooms at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College and Wailuku A at Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center. The families, who receive preschool for their 3 and 4 year olds at no cost to them, had positive comments to share about their child’s development and their success as parents in strengthening their family.
A luncheon was held at MEO followed by an emotional afternoon session with staff. Office of Head Start officials emphasized that their visit was not about compliance, which is the usual reason for in-person visits, but focused on support and assistance. The encounter allowed staff to express their thoughts and feelings.
The visiting Head Start team included Tala Hooban, Office of Head Start deputy director; Dr. Sangeeta Parikshak, social scientist and mental health lead, from the Office of Head Start; Cynthia Yao, regional program manager; Bernard Lagud, program specialist, and Noelle Granato, regional training and technical assistance coordinator from Region 9.