By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

In 2014, HCC student Justi Dunhour was looking for a job after giving birth to her daughter, Ayvri Dunhour-Torres. The 26-year-old eventually landed a position as a teacher’s assistant at KCC’s Alani Children’s Center, a place that provides early childhood development care for children of students and faculty. After seeing how the center functioned, Dunhour enrolled her then 2-year-old son, Matix Dunhour-Torres, and eventually decided the same for her daughter.

“I love it here and I love the people who work here … ” Dunhour said. “I trust them and it’s super nurturing. … It’s like a place that I wanted my kids to start their school years.”

Located beside parking lot D, the Alani Children’s Center has been actively running since 1992. According to Mark Mendoza, the site coordinator, similar children’s centers are found at almost every community college on the island. Although Dunhour is a HCC student, she chose to enroll her children at KCC’s children’s center since it was a convenient location close to her home.

Dunhour was concerned that her son would not get accepted into the center being that it gives first priority to KCC students. Faculty and staff members of KCC are given second priority, and if no other parents send in applications, the center will open to families in the community. To her relief, Matix was accepted and started off in the toddler classroom, eventually transitioning to the preschool classroom as he grew older.

The center of the children’s center allows children to interact with one another through games, playing with blocks, and more. (Photo by Lexus Yamashiro)

Alani has three classroom settings designed for children between 2-5 years old. The toddler classroom serves a maximum capacity of 12 toddlers, while the small preschool classroom allows up to 11 children. The large preschool classroom can hold a maximum of 18 children. Lead instructors, as well as child care aides and assistants, work in each of these classrooms to focus on all aspects of the child’s growth and development.

“Daily schedules are determined to support the children’s needs as well as working around cohesively with the three classrooms,” Mendoza said.

According to the Alani Children’s Center Family Handbook, the center embraces a developmental approach to early childhood education and care but focusing on creativity, language development, small muscle coordination, routines, and building healthy relationships. This includes outdoor playtime, storytelling, toileting, and meals that carry the five components to a nutritious meal which are provided by KCC’s Culinary Arts program.

Currently, Dunhour takes her 4-year-old daughter Ayvri to the center full-time. Parents have the option of enrolling their children to attend the center for three days (part-time) or five days (full-time) out of the week, having to a pay a tuition and comprehensive fee per semester. The non-refundable comprehensive fee is set at $195 per semester, but tuition fees vary by the age of the child and how often they will show up at the center.

If parents are unable to pay the full tuition fee at once, the option of making four payments throughout the semester is available. Parents are also encouraged to see if they are eligible for subsidies from programs such as Child Care Connection, Preschool Open Doors (POD), and more.

“There’s a lot of help out there. … They give us the resources [such as] Pauahi [Keiki Scholarship] and Preschool Open Doors,” Dunhour said. “There’s a lot of different resources that you can go to, and the school is very helpful in letting you know about those different resources.”

The center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday-Friday in accordance with KCC’s semester schedule. Mendoza said that families can schedule to visit or tour the center, and may also fill out an application while there. Applications are also available online and are accepted throughout the semester. Once the application is approved and requirements are met, more forms will be shared with the parent(s) to fill out.

As she continues her studies at HCC, Dunhour is eager to enroll her daughter to the center again next semester and said that if she were to have any more children she would also enroll them at Alani.

“Especially for our student parents at KCC, it’s really hard to find affordable an affordable daycare or preschool for your kids,” Dunhour said. “To be right on campus … it’s super convenient. I definitely recommend this place to other parents.”

For more information about the Alani Children’s Center, contact (808) 734-9394.
Contact (808) 734-9394 to visit and/or tour the children’s center in parking lot D.