MEO Head Start on Maui beginning new year in wake of wildfires

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August 17, 2023

Maui Economic Opportunity’s seven Head Start preschool sites on Maui opened Thursday, Aug. 17, for parent/child orientations about a week later than scheduled due to the tragic wildfires.

The Lahaina center at Lahaina Intermediate School is temporarily closed. MEO Head Start is working with families to determine how we can best meet their immediate needs for shelter and safety.

As part of the one-hour orientations, which were originally scheduled for Friday, Aug. 11, parents were given the pamphlet, “There Was A Fire: A Story for Young Children on Maui,” to read to help their children process and deal with wildfires.

Liz Hartline, assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Honolulu Community College, designed the pamphlet and tailored it for the Maui fires for children 3 to 8 years old.

“It is normal to feel sad, scared, and worried,” the pamphlet says, while describing the events in Lahaina. “These feelings may feel heavy in your body, or like you are distracted all the time. Kids have those feelings, and so do grown-ups.

“When you have big feelings, you can tell a grownup about them. Feelings are safe to have, even though they can be uncomfortable. Talking to grown-ups can help you feel better.”

The first day of preschool is set for Monday, Aug. 21, at Head Start sites at Haiku Elementary School, Kihei Elementary School, Eddie Tam complex in Makawao, UH-Maui College, Wailuku Elementary School and Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center.

The MEO Head Start center in Kaunakakai held its parent orientation on Friday, Aug. 11, and welcomed preschoolers for their first day on Monday, Aug. 14.

Head Start supports low income children and families on Maui and Moloka‘i, offering preschool at no cost to qualifying families. The program is more than a traditional preschool, delivering services to 3 and 4 year olds and their families in health and family well-being, while engaging parents as partners every step of the way.

This is a page from a pamphlet given to MEO Head Start parents to read to their children about the Lahaina wildfires.

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