MEO Head Start

MEO Head Start


Aloha! This is for parents who could use some support. I am a life coach, and mother of three and I specialize in working with families. I live on Maui. I’m offering a free Zoom meeting Friday 2/12 at 11 AM. This is for parents facing challenges with young children (ages 3-6). We will talk about cooperation and I will teach a simple technique to help children develop self-discipline, and to help parents feel more balanced and peaceful! Feel free to have people interested text me at 808 250-9620 to reserve a spot. My FB page is
thank u MEO HEAD START for choosing our family this Christmas holiday specially thanks also to KULA COMMUNITY for sharing your blessing to our family


Razzel Ancheta Clyde Matela Jacob Matela Crazz Matela Cloude Matela
Please come and join us on Sunday, March 4, 2018! Proceeds from the event will be donated back to the participating schools on Maui. Help us spread the word to benefit your school. For complete information, visit We hope you will join us!
The Rand Group Partner Joel Rand, along with the Rotary Club of Kahului, spread holiday cheer this season with a Toy Drive at the Wailuku MEO Head Start Pre-School and their famous Christmas Tree fundraiser.
MEO headstart lahaina transition training/graduation 2017 my baby with her teachers
Zoo-phonics will be presenting a workshop at Kansha Preschool in Wailuku on Saturday, September 10. Email [email protected] for details.
Since today is World Teacher's day.....Thank you to all of our teachers for the hard work you do for our keiki's!
I am so sad that Miss U'i left MCC Head Start and was offered a better position at Kahului Head Start. Jream and his Grandma Henri will surely miss you. First Miss Alex, then Miss U'i. :(
Thank you MEO Head Start!
Keiki vision screening at MEO Head Start's Parent and Child Activity Day!
What a week! Signed up three more schools, which brings our count to 23/25 of the schools on Maui island. Off to the island of Moloka'i in the morning to screen students at MEO Head Start!

Head Start is a federally funded preschool program designed to support children and families that qu

Operating as usual

Photos from MEO Head Start's post 08/23/2022

*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.


**Congratulations** 👏

*Head Start’s Laurie Saito named MEO Employee of the Month*

Teacher Aide Laurie Saito, who endeavors to do what’s best for Head Start families, has been named Maui Economic Opportunity Employee of the Month.

Amid the pandemic, Laurie has proven to be a team player with the flexibility and creativity to adapt to the changing rules and protocols.

“No matter how hectic things get with the early morning texts or calls ‘please go . . .,’ ‘Never mind, change of plans,’ this individual will roll with it and still be able to smile and laugh the craziness off,” said Dee Wilson, Head Start administrative assistant, who nominated Laurie.

Hired in January 2020, Laurie has received several Excellent Client Service recognitions.

“This individual has had to work with different teams, sometimes going from team to team in a single day!” said Dee. “We know this can be tiring, but it is done with laughter, fun and a good heart!”

For being named Employee of the Month for April, Laurie earned a $150 check and an extra vacation day. Dee received $50 as the nominator.

Laurie was recognized at the May general staff meeting.

With the new Head Start year approaching in August, MEO is looking for staff, especially lead teachers. Head Start provides preschool at no cost to low income families. For information about joining the Head Start team, call (808) 243-4378.

Photos from MEO Head Start's post 07/07/2022

*MEO Kahi Kamali‘i infant toddler center receives $15,000 donation from Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort trust*

Maui Economic Opportunity’s Kahi Kamali‘i infant toddler center is the beneficiary of a $15,000 grant from the Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Charitable Trust, the second year in a row the trust has made a donation to the Central Maui facility.

The Charitable Trust selected Kahi Kamali‘i for the donation “in recognition of its wonderful work providing quality early childhood services to the people of Maui,” said the Charitable Trust’s Executive Director Melissa Pavlicek.

The mission of the Charitable Trust is to communicate and demonstrate Ho‘okipa, generous hospitality, and Malama, deep care, for the community by supporting charitable needs. The Charitable Trust made a donation of $10,000 to Kahi Kamali‘i in November 2021.

“We understand the incredible extra challenges confronted by nonprofit organizations during the pandemic. We applaud the continued good work of your organization,” Pavlicek said.

Kahi Kamali‘i provides services for children ages 1 to 3. During the pandemic, Kahi Kamali‘i remained open and cared for children of first responders, medical professionals and essential workers.

“Affordable quality child care has come up as top priority in public surveys as we develop our three-year Community Needs Assessment,” said Debbie Cabebe, CEO of MEO. “The need for child care has increased since pandemic impacts have waned, but families face costs of $1,000 a month or more with a tightened market of providers.

“We thank the Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Charitable Trust for providing a helping hand to MEO and families in need of child care for their toddlers and infants.”

Cabebe said that the funds from the Trust are vital for the continued operation of the facility amid rising costs due to inflation and supply chain and other issues.

The infant toddler center opened in 2003 as a partnership with the J. Walter Cameron Center, where the facility is located, to address the need for center-based quality care for children under 3 years old. The goal is to allow families to work, attend school or participate in employment training.

The program is licensed by the state Department of Human Services for 15 children and is currently at capacity. Licensing requirements at Kahi Kamali‘i include staffing of one lead caregiver and two other caregivers – to maintain a ratio of 1 adult to 5 children.

The County of Maui provides scholarships to keep costs affordable for families who are income eligible, with teen parents or with children receiving early intervention support through Imua Family Services.

Kahi Kamali‘i is open year round from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to noon on Fridays. For more information about Kahi Kamali‘i Infant/Toddler Center, call (808) 249-2988.


* Back to School *


*MEO Head Start Dad Kekoa Barcai selected ‘Father of the Year’*

Head Start Dad Kekoa Barcai was named “Father of the Year” for Maui Island and Maui Economic Opportunity the “Parent-Friendly Business Award” winner at the fourth annual Hawai‘i Fatherhood Conference via Zoom on Saturday, June 18.

The awards were presented by the Hawai‘i State Commission on Fatherhood, an advisory panel to state agencies that promotes the important role fathers play in the lives of their children. The conference was held Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19.

Barcai has been a top volunteer at MEO Head Start, serving as Policy Council representative and president of his child’s classroom parental group. The council and classroom organizations are part of Head Start’s framework to engage parents in planning curriculum for their children and providing feedback on ways to improve the preschool environment.

The federally- and county-funded MEO Head Start preschool, which is offered at no cost to income-qualifying families on Maui and Moloka‘i, provides services not only to the child but the family as whole. The program serves about 200 children and their families annually.

“Parents are their child's first teacher and when a parent shares that understanding, it helps to bridge the home-school connection,” said MEO Early Childhood Services Director Debbi Amaral. “Not only do we see the growth in the children we serve but in the parents and families as well.”

Barcai’s path to award-winning Dad has had challenges since being released from jail and regaining custody of children Journey Barcai, 9; Honesty, 7; and Legacy, 4. He is currently employed as a carpenter.

“Kekoa has been an absolute pleasure to work with over the past few years,” said MEO Head Start’s nomination. “He has been an excellent role model for his children. . . . He has grown as a father and a leader of our Head Start community.”

Barcai was “ecstatic,” honored and humble about the award, saying “I feel like there are so many other people and Fathers that deserve this, and I'm really not the only one.”

When asked about the essential traits of being a good father, he replied “just being present in their lives . . . in everything you do with them, even when you just gotta smack a cockroach because they all screaming.”

Being a good father means “letting them know that you're not gonna go anywhere and will always be there for them, letting them know they can come to you for anything and that Dad is going to always be there for them,” he continued.

He hopes that when his children are grown they will describe him as “hard worker, loving, caring, that I did everything I could for them so that they could have everything they need, whatever they need.”

MEO’s Head Start also was honored at the Hawai‘i Fatherhood Conference with the “Parent-Friendly Business Award.”

“We would like to thank the Hawai‘i Fatherhood Conference for presenting the Parent-Friendly Business Award to MEO’s Head Start,” said MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe. “Our program is parent-friendly and parent-supportive, helping them to build nurturing families and thriving children – our foundation and our future.”

For more information about MEO Head Start, call (808) 249-2988.


FDA outside experts recommended the Pfizer vaccine for youth under age 5 and the Moderna vaccine for youth under age 6. The Pfizer vaccine requires three shots and appears to be 80 percent effective. The Moderna two-shot vaccine is about 40 to 50 percent effective at preventing milder infections. The vaccines require FDA authorization and CDC recommendation.
The Partnering for Vaccine article can be found at


MEO Head Start children Molokai

*MEO Head Start program in compliance with federal standards*

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.


*Dee Wilson in Head Start named MEO Employee of the Month*

Long time administrative assistant for the Head Start preschool program, Dee Wilson, who keeps the department operations flowing uninterrupted, has been named Employee of the Month.

Dee joined MEO in January 2005 after working in the health care field. She was nominated for the honor by Head Start co-worker Evelyne Dereas.

Dee exemplifies MEO’s core values of teamwork, integrity, personal excellence, empathy, creativity and flexibility, Evelyne wrote in her nomination.

“This person is always going out and beyond her way, making sure everyone is on the same page/level by constantly keeping everyone in check with reminders, notices, etc,” said Evelyne.

Dee’s role makes her the first person clients see when they walk into the office. She has a “big heart and has worked with empathy” in receiving clients and is “not quick to judge,” said Evelyne.

For being named Employee of the Month for February, Dee earned a $150 check and an extra vacation day. Evelyne received $50 as the nominator.

Dee was honored at MEO’s monthly staff meeting, held via Zoom, on March 24.

MEO Head Start - Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. 04/07/2022

MEO Head Start - Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.

More about the Head Start Program and application found here

MEO Head Start - Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. 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 guidelin...

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