MEO Head Start

Head Start Maui Overview:

MEO Head Start serves children and families on Maui and Molokai. Our keiki are from families considered eligible based on categorical need: homeless, foster child, or families on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or SSI. All other families are eligible by meeting poverty income guidelines as established by the federal income table. Head Start also enrolls and serves children with special needs.

About Us and What We Do:

MEO Head Start was founded on Maui in 1965 as a part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.  MEO Head Start supports children and families, providing a quality, comprehensive service that impact early development and school readiness success.  100% of our children are in the USDA subsidized breakfast and lunch program.

Families residing on Maui with young children experience similar challenges faced by impoverished communities all over the United States. Stressors include:  high unemployment, limited access to proper health-care, lack of mental health services: substance abuse; domestic violence;  and the dwindling resources needed to address all these inequities.  In combination or separately, these factors create an unhealthy start for a young child.

In addressing these challenges, recent studies have shown that the greatest impediment to early childhood learning is poverty.  Specifically, the “stress” caused by poverty.

In the Head Start “whole family”  approach, our Family Case Managers work directly with Parents to identify strengths and goals.  Once identified, the Case Managers work with the parent to identify community resources to support families to obtain access to the services and help they need.

Complementing these services is the foundation of learning in the MEO  Head Start classrooms.  Walk into one of our 13 centers across Maui County and you will be amazed at the interactions, experiences, and learning happening each day. Research show that positive early experiences can mitigate risk factors in young children.  Head Start provides a quality environment with caring staff, promoting necessary skills for children to be successful in school and in life.

You will also find a culturally diverse staff within MEO Head Start that reflects our ethnic blending in Maui County,  many of whom are also former parents of Head Start students.  What is truly striking about this teaching staff is how much “aloha” these amazing mentors and guides have for the children they teach.  We are an “Ohana”, and believe in the impact of early intervention through quality teaching and learning.

Maui Head Start Recruitment Flyer

Maui Head Start Spanish Recruitment Flyer

Molokai Head Start Recruitment Flyer

Facebook Posts

1 week ago

MEO Head Start
Jeannine Gines, a Head Start family case manager, was selected MEO Employee of the Month for March.She was unable to attend the general staff meeting March 31 when the announcement was made because she had just given birth to daughter, Aleighna. Head Start staff gathered with Jeannine via livestream for a short celebration on April 19.Jeannine was praised by nominator, Dee Wilson, for her “flexibility and teamwork,” especially when the department faced unexpected staff shortages due to the pandemic and child care issues. She stepped in and volunteered to assist where needed.“This department prides itself on being flexible, because we need to be; every day is an adventure, but my nominee has gone above and beyond -- exceeding expectations,” said nominator Dee. “My nominee has many talents and can work with so many different people and does it with a positive, can-do attitude. This individual's humble heart is open to our varied clientele, and helping people is a personal strength that my nominee shares with everyone served through our program as well as our employees.”It’s not that Jeannine was immune from family issues caused by the pandemic. The mother of three had to juggle home schooling and other parental responsibilities with her job at Head Start, “even bringing funny stories to tell,” said Dee.The March Employee of the Month joined MEO Head Start in December 2017 as a family case manager. She is well connected with community resources and networks providing services to children and families, said Early Childhood Services Director Debbi Amaral.As an Employee of the Month, Jeannine received $150 and an extra vacation day. Nominator Dee earned a $50 cash award.Jeannine Gines and her newborn daughter, Aleighna, appeared virtually at a gathering with her co-workers at Head Start on April 19. Gines was selected as MEO Employee of the Month for March. ... See MoreSee Less
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3 weeks ago

MEO Head Start
Testimony from a parent of MEO Head Start ... See MoreSee Less
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1 month ago

MEO Head Start
MEO’s Debbi Amaral: A Champion For ChildrenDebbi Amaral, Maui Economic Opportunity’s director of Early Childhood Services, accepted her Champions for Children for Early Learning as an individual award in a virtual ceremony Wednesday, April 7.Amaral was one of 11 Champions for Children, presented by Hawai`i Children’s Action Network, to receive awards in the ceremony streamed from Oahu. There were nearly 90 nominees for 11 awards in various categories.For the last 26 years, Debbi has managed operations and supervised staff at MEO’s Head Start pre-kindergarten program for low income families on two islands in Maui County. She began with MEO in 1996 as education/disability specialist, working her way up to director of Early Childhood Services in 2005.She currently directs 13 in-person/virtual Head Start sites, serving as many as 250 children and their families, and Kahi Kamali`i Infant/Toddler and `Ohana Strengthening programs.Prior to joining MEO as an educational specialist in 1995, Amaral got experience as a teacher and teacher’s aide at Kahului Union, Wailuku Union, Iao and Kahului Baptist preschool programs. She earned her associate’s degree in human services with an emphasis in early childhood from Maui Community College, now UH-Maui College.Adjusting on the fly to the COVID-19 pandemic just showed why Debbi is a Champions for Children. Using her experience and creativity, she quickly kept her programs running, setting up health and safety protocols, developing virtual learning sites while maintaining in-person access for some working families, secured computer tablets for families without them and created a virtual curriculum.She also organized drive-thru food giveaways and weekend meals through Maui Food Bank’s Aloha BackPack Buddies for her programs' families.“Debbi represents the best of MEO,” said CEO Debbie Cabebe. “Helping our young families, who would otherwise not be able to afford early childhood education, and changing the course of their lives.“We have always considered Debbi a champion for children in Maui County. Now, she has the title. We thank the Hawai`i Children’s Action Network for recognizing Debbi.” ... See MoreSee Less
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2 months ago

MEO Head Start
MEO Head Start will be participating in a Drive-Through Early Childhood Community Resource Fair this Saturday, March 20th from 9am-12pm. Lots of valuable community resources right at your fingertips! We hope to see you there! ... See MoreSee Less
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