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The ANA Messenger: Social Development Edition 2013

Published: September 26, 2013
Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS)

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Partners in Development Foundation
Ka Pa’alana Homeless Family Education Program

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Partners in Development Foundation’s (PIDF) Ka Pa‘alana Homeless Family Education Program (Ka Pa‘alana), now in the second year of a three-year SEDS grant, was created to meet the educational and family strengthening needs of homeless and at-risk Native Hawaiian families living on the Leeward Coast of O‘ahu.  The overall goal of the project is to help break the cycle of poverty by creating and implementing Native Hawaiian family education curricula that prepare children for school success and empower the adult Native Hawaiian to be the head of the household and the family’s first and foremost influential educator.

Background Native Hawaiian Head Start child making poi while participating  in the Ka Pa`alana Homeless Family Education Program with Partners in Development. (Honolulu, HI)
In the two years between 2005 and 2007 alone, the homeless population on O‘ahu rose nearly 30 percent, reaching almost 8,000.  The Leeward Coast, with the highest population of Native Hawaiians in the world, overtook Downtown Honolulu as the area with the greatest number of homeless, with 37 percent of O‘ahu’s homeless population residing on its beaches, beach parks, and in area shelters.  Native Hawaiians had been hit especially hard by this crisis, accounting for 42.2 percent of O‘ahu’s total homeless population, with 20 percent of the homeless population estimated to be children ages birth to five.

In October 2009, the first of two Homeless Summits was held, with the intent of bringing ALL Leeward Coast non-profit and community organizations together to share resources, identify needs of the homeless community, and form a stronger voice in government decisions. This group, the Leeward Housing Coalition (LHC), meets once a month at Leeward Coast shelters and during annual Homeless Summits to strategize and coordinate efforts.  The 105 participants who represented all of the public and non-profit agencies that serve the homeless Native Hawaiian community on the Leeward Coast identified lack of school readiness, lack of parent involvement in their children’s lives, and lack of available family services as “key issues” that needed to be addressed.

The project was created specifically to meet these growing needs.  Ka Pa‘alana’s approach is unique because it embraces Native Hawaiian values, culture and approaches as the foundation in implementing a program that incorporates two research-based educational models—the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  

Recognized worldwide as the leader in family literacy development, NCFL works with educators and community builders to design and sustain programs that meet the most urgent educational needs of disadvantaged families.  Adopted into federal legislation and providing the foundation for intergenerational learning that leads to long-term success, the NCFL model integrates four vital family literacy components—Early Childhood Education (ECE), Parent Education (PE), Adult Education (AE), and Parent and Child Together (PACT) time—into one integrated program.  

NAEYC is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children with the highest standard of accreditation for preschools in America.  NAEYC's mission is to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and developmental services and resources.

Native Hawaiian Head Start teacher and child playing a game in the Ka Pa`alana Homeless Family Education Program. (Honolulu, HI)Objective ONE: Over a period of 36 months, prepare 90 homeless Native Hawaiian preschool-age children for school success by developing, implementing, and evaluating a Native Hawaiian culture-based toddler and preschool curriculum that meets national standards.

At the time PIDF submitted the SEDS grant application, Ka Pa‘alana’s early childhood education curriculum met the Hawai‘i Preschool Content Standards (HPCS) and incorporated some Native Hawaiian content.  However, through this grant project, Ka Pa‘alana made Native Hawaiian cultural practices and approaches foundational to the entire Ka Pa‘alana curriculum, while meeting the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards.

To accomplish Objective ONE, the project hired June “Pualani” Tandal, a Native Hawaiian Cultural Specialist and Preschool Teacher to create an early education curriculum called Kumu Kukui, based on Native Hawaiian culture and approaches.  Jamie Goya, Curriculum Specialist, was also hired to assist in the development of the curriculum and to ensure the curriculum meets national standards (the domains outlined by the NAEYC).  The curriculum has been implemented at the HOPE Shelter, where Ka Pa ‘alana currently runs a free four-hour-a-day, four-day-a-week parent/child participatory, center-based preschool for homeless children ages birth to five.  In March 2013, Ka Pa‘alana’s preschool site at HOPE Shelter received NAEYC accreditation, making it one of only a few NAEYC-accredited preschools in the nation to serve homeless children.

Objective TWO: Over a period of 36 months, empower 30 homeless Native Hawaiian fathers in their role as the head of the household and their children’s first and foremost influential educator, by developing, implementing, and evaluating a Native Hawaiian Parent Education curriculum focused on the role of fathers.

Native Hawaiian fathers posing for a picture who participated in the Ka Pa`alana Homeless Family Education Program with Partners in Development. (Honolulu, HI)

To accomplish Objective TWO, a Native Hawaiian Father’s Curriculum titled Nā ‘Oiwi was created by parent educators who have extensive background in education and counseling and have worked with homeless families at the HOPE Shelter for the past five years.  Danny Goya, Program Manager, and Terry Nakamura, Family Literacy Trainer, are also the only two NCFL certified trainers in the nation charged with working with homeless families.  Seamus Fitzgerald, a Maori and Hawaiian cultural specialist, was contracted to assist in the creation of the curriculum and Lambert Panui, Father’s Educator, was hired to deliver the created curriculum.

The curriculum, which focuses on connecting homeless Native Hawaiian fathers to their culture and history and the role of the Native Hawaiian male in society, provides opportunities for these fathers to participate in cultural activities as well as PACT (Parent and Child Together) activities that encourage them to engage positively with their children.

Native Hawaiian Head Start teacher and child making a lei in the Ka Pa`alana Homeless Family Education Program. (Honolulu, HI)


Although there have been some challenges in hiring qualified personnel on time, and participant attendance, the project has already better prepared 119 Native Hawaiian children (birth to five) for school success through the implementation of Kumu Kukui early education curriculum, and empowered 23 Native Hawaiian fathers to assume their role as head of the household and their children’s first teacher through Nā ‘Oiwi.  With the recent NAEYC accreditation of its preschool program, and ongoing professional and program development through NCFL, the project is hopeful that both curricula can serve as a vehicle for other at-risk native communities to meet their educational and family strengthening needs.

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Last Reviewed: October 18, 2016