Childcare center opens on campus

Infant/toddler specialist Pua‘ena Vierra enjoys a musical teaching moment with Auri-elle – Courtesy of Bonnie Beatson

T oddlers clank on musical instruments, open books and smile eyes-wide as they play in the colorful and spacious room designed expressly for their size and learning potential. The long-awaited dream of a campus childcare center came true at Windward Community College with the blessing and opening of Hānaiaulu Childcare Center on Aug. 15. Hānaiaulu means “to feed, or adopt and grow.”

WCC chancellor Ardis Eschenberg called the Hawaiian immersion childcare center a “vehicle to increase education for Koʻolaupoko and Koʻolauloa for generations to come.” It is currently serving three infants and eight toddlers—with the potential to expand to 12 infants and 20 toddlers—exclusively for use by WCC students.

For now, services are free during the life of a grant that ends next school year. Priority is given to those who are full-time students, Hawaiian language speaking or taking classes in Hawaiian language, eligible for Pell grants and in good academic standing.

“Our goal is to help our students persist in school and graduate, as well as provide quality care for our infants and toddlers ages six months through 36 months,” said childcare center director Puanani Kama.

“If a mother earns her degree, her children are all more likely to earn their degrees, which in turn means that the next generation is more likely and on and on. Maternal education is the largest predictor of higher education attainment for an individual,” Eschenberg said. “This project addresses a gap both in the Windward community, where infant and toddler care facilities are scarce, and at Windward Community College, where we were the only community college in Hawaiʻi lacking a childcare center.”

Designed by KYA Design Group, the center includes a childcare main area, welcome area, lānai and an outdoor play area. The center is equipped with Hawaiian language learning materials, books, music and comfortable furniture and fixtures sized for infant and toddler keiki, and is licensed with the Department of Human Services.

The childcare center includes a main area, welcome area, lanai and outdoor play area – Courtesy of Bonnie Beatson

Eschenberg said: “The Hānaiaulu Childcare Center is the birth of dreams of generations of students, faculty and staff at Windward CC. Our larger Koʻolau community has made this resource come to fruition, allowing parents and children to thrive at Windward. It not only provides a foundation of Hawaiian language for our youngest community members, but sets them on a college–going trajectory to build knowledge and waiwai (wealth) in our community. The largest determinant of a child’s likelihood to receive a college degree is the attainment of this degree by their parents. Thus, Hānaiaulu is a force for intergenerational and community–wide change.”

For more information about the center, go to or contact childcare center director Puanani Kama at 462-4799 or

by Ka ‘Ohana, News Staff