Commit to Keiki’s Maui Recovery Spotlight Series highlights local organizations and nonprofits that have been working to ensure that Maui’s youngest keiki and their families receive the support and resources they need in the wake of the devastating wildfires.

Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO), Early Childhood Services

Q&A with Debbi Amaral, Director of Early Childhood Services

Q: How did the wildfires impact the MEO Head Start site in Lahaina?

A: The MEO Head Start Lahaina site was the only preschool in Lahaina that was spared by the Aug. 8th wildfires. While all other licensed preschools were destroyed, our Lahaina site experienced extensive damage to the roof and the playground shade structure, as a result of the strong winds. In August, we had 18 children enrolled at our Lahaina site. Immediately after the fire, we were able to relocate about seven children to other Head Start locations on Maui, while other families opted to move to other locations on-island and off-island. Several families remained in Lahaina and stayed in contact with Head Start, planning to return to services once the Head Start center reopened.

Q: What is the state of the MEO Head Start Lahaina site today?

A: After months of repairs and waiting until we had the proper clearances for health and safety, we’re happy to announce that our MEO Head Start Lahaina site officially reopened on Feb. 1, 2024. We currently have 8 children enrolled in our classroom, and 12 additional children in process to begin school in March 2024.

Q: Are you still accepting applications for the Lahaina site?

A: Yes, we are still accepting applications for the 2023-24 school year. Our Head Start services are offered to families that meet federal poverty income guidelines and selection criteria, and preference is given to foster and homeless children. We are also accepting applications for the 2024-25 school year. Children need to be three years of age by July 31, 2024 to be considered for enrollment.

Families interested in applying can complete their application online by visiting or call the MEO Head Start office at (808) 249-2988.

Senator Mazie Hirono and MEO Head Start Lahaina Student

MEO Head Start Lahaina Classroom