MEO Head Start program in compliance with federal standards

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May 27, 2022

Maui Economic Opportunity’s Head Start preschool program meets all federal Head Start standards for educational programming and teaching practices, health and safety and family strengthening, according to a recent onsite federal review that is conducted every five years.

A federal monitoring team from the Administration for Children and Families visited Maui from Jan. 18 to 22 to observe the MEO Head Start program, review financial and other documents and meet with staff, families and board members.

“Based on the information gathered during this review, we have found your program meets the requirements of all applicable HHPPS (Head Start Program Performance Standards), laws, regulations and policy requirements,” said a letter to MEO from Bernadine Futrell, director of the Office of Head Start.

The onsite review was part of a three-pronged monitoring protocol by the federal Office of Head Start to verify documents submitted by the MEO Head Start program. The third part, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System Reviews, will be held next year.

“OHS uses the information collected during reviews to understand the grant recipient’s approach to program design and services,” the Office of Head Start said. “The information is also used to evaluate their performance and continuous program improvement.”

The review team examined MEO’s program management, education and child development services, health services, family and community engagement and fiscal infrastructure and found the program to be in compliance with standards and regulations.

The report, issued on March 25, cited MEO’s “culturally diverse staff members (that) reflect the ethnic blending of area communities,” connections facilitated by staff that “helped build relationships among families” and fiscal management aligned to the collaboratively developed budget.

“We thank our Head Start staff, families and board members for participating in this rigorous and comprehensive review,” said CEO Debbie Cabebe. “MEO Head Start fills a critical need, providing preschool at no cost to low income families, while working to strengthen families. We are elated with this positive assessment.”

MEO Head Start is facing a staffing shortage, like nearly all Head Start programs across the country. The report did note vacancies for an education manager and mental health consultant. Since the filing of the report, the mental health position has been filled.

Other current openings include teacher aides, family services manager, education manager and lead teachers. The annual salary for the education manager is $50,600 and the family services manager, $45,250, and $20.40 an hour for a lead teacher for the summer program.

“We ask members of the community who have a love of children and education and believe in building families to consider joining our Head Start team,” said Cabebe. “We have many Head Start graduates, our success stories, thriving in the community. Join us in Helping People. Changing Lives.”

The MEO has operated the Head Start program since the nonprofit’s inception in 1965 and enrolls about 200, 3 and 4 year olds, in sites on Maui and Moloka‘i. For more information, call (808) 249-2988 or go to the web site

Children in the Moloka‘i Head Start program say goodbye to retiring MEO Moloka‘i Branch Manager Yolanda Reyes in March.

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