In Hawai‘i, the use of older family members to care for children ages birth to five years old, is a very familiar practice. Grandparents, or tūtū, are often the primary caregivers of their young grandchildren because of socio-economic conditions, as well as the value of ‘ohana (family).
Tūtū and Me aims to identify, recruit, and service this underserved segment of the Native Hawaiian population through an innovative traveling preschool program done in cooperation with churches and community organizations serving the Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian community. Tūtū and Me aims to meet the developmental needs of these young children and to support the grandparents as well as parents and other primary caregivers who are raising them.
Teaching teams, comprised of early education educators, travel to pre-selected communities where they set up, conduct, and facilitate the program. The curriculum is organized around learning themes and cultural aspects, as well as those values that continue to influence the lives of native Hawaiian children, are also incorporated into the curriculum. Today, this traveling preschool program reaches hundreds of children and their caregivers through a hands-on curriculum provided at four communities on the island of O‘ahu, ten communities on the Big Island, four on Kaua‘i, two communities on Molokai and four communities on Maui.
This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Kamehameha Schools.