INPEACE has received a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Government through the Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP) to continue strengthening its Keiki Steps early childhood and family education program. The program, which serves more than 500 Native Hawaiian children and their families yearly from birth to age five, enhances early learning experiences through a culturally appropriate curriculum that engages the entire family in their child’s learning. Families are able to attend the program with their children for free, thanks in part to grants such as the one received from NHEP.
This unique program requires family participation, encourages bonding between parent and child and emphasizes the importance of serving as your child’s first teacher. The curriculum supports learning through playful activities led by Keiki Steps staff—including art projects, dramatic play and songs—and empowers parents to build on their existing knowledge, strengths and values.
“It is important for parents to have different early educations options for their child’s learning that meet their families needs. It is wonderful to have the support of our state’s Congressional Delegation where they value the benefits of family-child interactive learning programs such as Keiki Steps,” says Lisa Pakele, Keiki Steps Program Director.
Keiki Steps and Kupu Ola, an INPEACE program that strengthens cultural identity through outdoor learning, will help build and sustain Native Hawaiian communities for the next generation and beyond. In fact, many parents who participate in the program become instructors for Keiki Steps, continuing to empower the Native Hawaiian community and sustain opportunities for higher education.
INPEACE has begun implementing high-quality mentorships and teacher assessments to enhance job-embedded professional development for Keiki Steps teachers, thereby impacting the quality of educational outcomes for high-need students. In order to support staff development, Keiki Steps piloted a Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) mentorship program at three sites focused on maximizing effective teaching.
Keiki Steps is currently located on ten DOE elementary campuses, one church and one transitional housing center — primarily on the Leeward Coast of O’ahu and Hawai’i Island and is looking to expand to two more locations within the next year. Keiki Steps has worked diligently with community partners, such as, the Department of Education, Kamehameha Schools, and ALU LIKE, to build upon their successful early learning and parent engagement model.