Heads up, parents: Application period for preschool subsidies ends soon

Updated: Mar. 11, 2020 at 5:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At Mother Rice Preschool, Koen Garrix McElfresh has a head start on early learning thanks to Preschool Open Doors.

Affording preschool would have been tough for his parents without the state-run program.

"It's definitely helped us because I don't feel as much pressure. It's given me more opportunity to be able to go out and work again, or go to school," said his mom, Carisa.

The state Department of Human Services oversees the program that helps families on a tight budget pay for preschool. Parents can choose from any of the more than 400 preschools DHS licenses.

"In the 20 years I've been here we've served over 1,000 children through Preschool Open Doors, so it's wonderful," KCAA Preschools of Hawaii president Christina Cox said.

Two of Koen’s older siblings also attended preschool with assistance from Preschool Open Doors.

"I can definitely see a big improvement in their social skills. The things that they come home and tell me. It's great. I love that they're able to get this early learning," Carisa McElfresh said.

Research shows 85% of a child’s brain develops within the first three years

"Additional research proves that children who enter preschool and complete at least one to two years before they enter kindergarten have better success in third-grade reading scores," Cox said.

Preschool Open Doors has $11 million in subsidies available. DHS is accepting applications through the end of the month. Priority goes to under-served or at-risk kids.

“I definitely encourage all parents to apply,” McElfresh said. “Whether or not they feel they’ll qualify, I say just go for it!”

If you want more information on Preschool Open Doors call (808) 791-2130 or toll free at 1(800) 746-5620.

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