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.

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1 years ago

MEO Head Start
*MEO Head Start’s Ashley Caris named Employee of the Month*Maui Economic Opportunity’s Employee of the Month Ashley Caris offered insight and empathy for workers and clients as Head Start preschool made decisions amid the uncertainties of the pandemic. “This empathy has been useful in many instances, such as the logistics of how to incorporate all the changes due to COVID,” said Dee Wilson, who nominated Caris for the award.No one really knew how the situation would play out or for how long but the program had to act quickly. “There was definitely a coordinated effort ... but my nominee really needed to jump in feet first,” Dee said.The pandemic initially forced the preschool program, offered at no cost to low income families on Maui and Moloka‘i, to close and then move to distance learning. Head Start reopened earlier this month for the new school year with in-person instruction.Ashley is the Head Start Health Manager and has been with MEO for nine years. She also won the award in 2016.For being named Employee of the Month for June, Ashley earned a $150 check and an extra vacation day. Dee received $50 as the nominator. ... See MoreSee Less
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