Categorized | Education

Bill on school readiness program moves forward

MEDIA RELEASE

A measure that would serve as a building block to creating a state-funded early childhood education program in the future has advanced in conference committee.

Senate and House conference committee members voted to move forward Senate Bill 1093, which establishes a school readiness program as a major component of the early learning system.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education and strong supporter of early childhood education, said the school readiness program is foundational as the state moves towards a funded preschool system.

“This is the first real investment Hawaii has made to join the vast majority of states that direct resources towards school readiness and early learning,” Tokuda said. “We have must to be proud of, and should recognize the opportunity if provides us to build a firm foundation of readiness as our youngest keiki enter school.

“The program creates a more robust, rigorous version of Preschool Open Doors, focused on efficiently and effectively utilizing the resources provided, and will call upon providers to do school readiness assessment filled in with the aim of making sure those who go through the program are ready for kindergarten,” she said. “This is one of the greatest equalizers we can give our children, ensuring every chance that they can have to be successful in both school and life.”

The program will be administered by Department of Human Services. The bill appropriated $1.160M for administration costs for two years and $6M in FY15 for subsidies based on a sliding fee scale that the Department of Human Services will develop.

“This investment is significant to building up to the system,” Tokuda added.

The bill now goes before the full House and Senate for a final vote.

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Governor’s statement on passage of the school readiness bill

Gov. Neil Abercrombie released a statement regarding the Hawaii State Legislature passing SB 1093 CD1, which establishes the school readiness program within the Early Learning System.

This legislation builds upon the existing Preschool Open Doors, a Department of Human Services program that already provides some services for our young children.

Abercrombie said:

“This is a great start. I am very pleased that Senate Bill 1093 has passed and I’m grateful to our legislators for recognizing this important step for the future of our keiki.

“The State of Hawaii can now demonstrate its commitment to preparing our youth by ensuring that high quality childcare and early education will be available, accessible and affordable.

“The priority will be to serve the low-income and some middle income families. We are pleased that the amount provided by the Legislature will allow us to serve the children with the highest need, those most at risk of not attending a preschool program.”

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