Monumental Expansion of Preschool Open Doors Program: Applications Open Now

The expansion aligns with the state’s Ready Keiki initiative led by Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke

HONOLULU, HI — Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke joined the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide an update on the expansion of Preschool Open Doors (POD), the state’s child care subsidy program. With expanded eligibility now including three-year-olds and increased income limits, interested families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

The expansion is a key component to Ready Keiki, the state’s multi-faceted plan to increase access to preschool for all Hawaiʻi three- and four-year-olds by 2032.

Lt. Gov. Luke, who has been leading the Ready Keiki initiative, credited DHS for its quick turnaround in implementing the expanded eligibility passed by the Legislature last May and signed into law by Gov. Josh Green, M.D. in June.

“For the Department of Human Services, and for any state agency, to be able to finish rule-making within just six months and have application portals open in January—it’s truly remarkable,” said Luke.

Currently, POD serves more than 740 students statewide and expects to provide subsidies to an estimated 2,000 additional children with the eligibility expansion, supporting families and helping to reduce the number of unserved preschool-aged children across Hawaiʻi.

DHS Director Cathy Betts said applications have spiked since the new changes were implemented. “This is a huge investment – not just for our children and our keiki in the state –but it’s a huge investment for our families and our community,” said Betts.

The Legislature increased the total funding for the program from $12 million to $50 million, meaning more support for more families. Lauren Danner, a working mother of six and former recipient of the POD subsidy, said the extra financial support she received was a blessing to her family. “To all families, if you don’t apply, you won’t know,” Danner said, encouraging those who might not have been eligible before to apply now.

Interested families may apply online here or should request an application as soon as possible from PATCH by visiting or calling 808-791-2130 or toll free 1-800-746-5620. PATCH can also help families locate a preschool convenient for them.

Applications must be received by March 28, 2024, to be considered during the July 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025, program period.


Media Contact:

Shari Nishijima
Communications Director
Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Amanda Stevens
Public Information Officer
Department of Human Services