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Funds available to help pay for child care

Assistance with the cost of child care is available to low-income Native Hawaiians living on Molokai and in parts of Maui through a three-year grant awarded to Maui Family Support Services Inc.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services grant of $1 million per year helps cover the cost of day care, preschool, after-school and summer programs for children through age 13 as well as care for special-needs children up to age 19, said the agency’s Daphne Ladia, program director for the Quality Care of Hawaiian Keiki Childcare Subsidy Program.

MFSS received the grant in October and has funds available for additional families, Ladia said.

The program’s goal is to help Hawaiian families be economically stable and to promote school readiness by providing assistance for child care while parents or guardians work or attend school, she said.

Funds are available for year-round assistance as well as for people who might need assistance with summertime child care.

“We can help with just summer care or whatever their needs are,” Ladia said.

To qualify for assistance, the child or a parent or a guardian must be Native Hawaiian. There is no blood quantum, Ladia said, but the applicant must be able to provide a birth certificate, Kamehameha Schools documentation or Office of Hawaiian Affairs registry to establish Native Hawaiian heritage.

Applicants’ gross incomes must be a maximum of 85 percent of the state’s median income, with dollar amounts ranging from $4,166 per month for a two-person household to $8,455 for a family of eight, according to the nonprofit.

Parents or guardians receiving assistance for day care or preschool are required to volunteer two hours per month at a participating school or do some type other child-related activity.

Assistance is for one year between Sept. 30 and Sept. 29. After qualifying, families do not need to reapply on an annual basis, but MFSS will reassess participants to determine continued qualification.

The Quality Care of Hawaiian Keiki Childcare Subsidy Program currently is available only to residents of Molokai and those living in Hana, Upcountry and Central Maui, Ladia said. The agency is working to expand assistance to West and South Maui residents.

To apply, go to www.mfss.org, and click on the link on the front page to complete eligibility screening. After eligibility is determined, a complete application will be sent to interested parties.

For more information, call 793-2816 or visit the agency’s office at 55 N. Church St. in Wailuku.

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