Many Children Face Exclusion from Hawaii Kindergarten in 2014

Alia Wong/Civil Beat

To Linda Chong, enrolling her daughter Diana in kindergarten next year had the potential to be life changing. She would finally have enough time to get a full-time job, earn some income and get off of food stamps.

But in March, Chong, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Waianae, found out she will have to wait an extra year. Diana was born in December 2009 and won’t turn five until after the upcoming school year is underway, making her ineligible for kindergarten under new rules that go into effect in 2014. For the Chong family, the change means another year without all-day school, reduced-price breakfast and lunch, the after-school A-Plus program and, of course, full-time employment.

And they are not alone. Diana is one of 5,000 or so children in Hawaii who will be affected by the state's decision to tighten the kindergarten admissions age requirement.

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