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New report shows Hawaii lacks childcare services - Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather - KITV Channel 4

New report shows Hawaii lacks childcare services

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HONOLULU -

Three years ago, the state put $3 million towards creating more public pre-school classrooms.

Still, parents are faced with the same problems.

"It's pretty frustrating and very challenging to find childcare here for sure," Jenjira Yahirun, a parent said. 

Wait list and soaring costs are just two of the issues some parents have been dealing with.

The average cost for a preschooler, $9,500 per year. The average price for infants is $13,500 per year.

Since 2014, the state added 21 classrooms onto 19 of its public schools.    

By the start of the next school year, the state will be able to serve 520 pre-schoolers, that's 24 percent more than the state had seats for four years ago.

It's still not enough, according the Hawaii Childrens' Action Network's report that showed there are just enough programs to seat one in four children under the age of five.

The State Office of Early Learning told Island News, one of its goals is to continue to add 10 new classrooms every two years but the problem can't be solved by just adding seats.

"It's really about looking at expanding the number of seats that are available for our children but also in choosing quality in those programs as well because research has shown us that low quality programs can be detrimental to young children, even resulting in expulsion and suspension," Lauren Moriguchi, director of the State Executive Office on Early Learning said. 

The national average for suspensions and expulsions at public preschool programs are three times higher than they are in K-12 settings.

"We don't want our children to be suspended or expelled or even put into sped when they don't need it because that's an additional expense to our state and it's really sending families the wrong message," Moriguchi said.

To keep quality up, the state needs qualified teachers and there's a shortage.

"And there's an even smaller number of teachers with specialized training in early childhood education, so what we need to do, to maintain quality is to work on the workforce of those teachers that have that specialized knowledge and training," Moriguchi said.

The state also said, when it comes to private schools, pre-school teachers are typically under-paid and there no course it can take to fix that problem.

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