On March 7, a groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled to celebrate the start of construction of the new childcare center at Windward Community College.
The new center will be called the Hānai a ulu Childcare Center. Hānai a ulu means to feed, grow and nurture. The center will care for young children (ages 0-2) of WCC students. It will be open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The center is planning to hire three teachers and three to four student workers and will also accept volunteers. Depending on the square footage, the center plans to care for between 14 to 28 children.
It will be located at Hale ‘Ākoakoa 107 and 109, which are the rooms closest to the parking lot.
The center’s director Puanani Kama emphasized that it will be a place of Hawaiian immersion teaching.
“The main reason why we started the program is so that there’s another space for Hawaiian language to be learned outside of the classroom,” she said.
Previously, Kama was a teacher at the Kaiapuni program at Pū‘ōhala Elementary School and also taught at Ke Kula ‘o Samuel M. Kamakau Charter School. Both schools provide Hawaiian language education to students. She then opened her own Hawaiian immersion daycare center out of her home.
“I wanted to reach more people,” she said. “I started volunteering at a daycare center, and I realized that this is what I want to do.”
Noe Ramseyer, a WCC student who has a couple of young grandchildren, thinks that the new center will benefit student parents.
“I’m all for it,” Ramseyer said. “We don’t have a lot of schools for our little ones to learn our culture anymore. It sounds like a very good idea.”
Lydia Linogon is another WCC student as well as a full-time mom, who often has to bring her baby to class.
“I think it’s great,” Linogon said. “It’ll be much easier for students with kids to just come to school and drop them off. I know a lot of parents worry about the cost of daycare because it is so expensive. So I think that it is great that it (the new childcare center) is free for students.”
According to Kama, parents in Hawai‘i normally pay about $1,200 per infant per year for childcare. Hānai a ulu, however, will be free though students will have to meet some requirements to enroll their children in the program.
“We know for sure that they have to keep their grades up,” Kama said. “They will have to take some Hawaiian language classes and another thing might be community service.”
Kama requires parents to be able to speak Hawaiian to their children outside of school.
Construction will take about a year with the new center expected to be completed by next February.
In the meantime, Kama and the Hānai a ulu Childcare Center will be having fundraising events throughout the year.
The first will be a Baby Lu‘au fundraiser for furniture on May 6 at Hale A‘o. Tickets will cost $50, and all proceeds will go to the center.
For more information about the upcoming Hānai a ulu Child Care Center, contact Kama at email@example.com.
by Leighland Tagawa , Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter