Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?


Can anyone help out Yuri with information on the Sure Start program?

My name is Yuri and I’m a single active duty AF mom with a soon-to-be 4 year old daughter.  I’ll be PCS’ing to Kadena in August and I found your site as I googled for information about Okinawa.  It’s been a wonderful source of information and I find myself on the site every night!  As I was reading through the previous posts on pre-schools and schools, I found that no one had mentioned anything about the Sure Start program (Pre-K) offered at some of the elementary schools on base.  I think I may qualify for the program because I’m a single parent.  I’ve looked on the DoD Pacific sites but the information it offers really doesn’t give me a “real” feel of the program.  Could you see if any of your other readers may have a child enrolled in the program and if so, could they provide me some insight?


  1. I am hoping to receive ,ore information about the sure start program, more than I was given here as well. As of right now we do not fall into the first priority selection for my daughter who is already 4. But does Sure start take children under 4 with an IEP? My you gets turns three in June we PCS in August and he will loose his speech therapy once he turns three, during the school year. Where as here he would continue care at the elementry school on base once he is three.

  2. Sure Start is great!….unless your child came directly from CDC to Sure Start. In the CDC, structure is NOT taught so pretty much your child gets away with alot of things. In Sure Start, there are rules and structure and these teachers expect your 4 year old to SNAP in to it. And if they dont snap in to it in one day, you WILL get a phone call saying you have to pick your child up. I get these calls at least once a week. It isnt all that friendly for families that have both parents working. Im not talking about dual military. I mean one is active duty and the other is a DOD civilian. I cant always get off early from my job just to drive 15 mins to pick my child up from sure start just because they threw a tantrum because they wanted to continue to play. This is what is taught at CDC. Why they dont understand that is beyond me. So just as a heads up, if your child has difficulty adjusting to new settings and rules, forget about keeping your job because they expect you to be there to pick them up at the drop of a dime.

  3. @having a family member in EFMP-

    I was told that it is only if the child has an OLDER sibling in EFMP. My 4 year old has a younger sibling in EFMP and according to the school, that doesn’t make a difference as far as priorities.

    However, it’s always worth a shot! I regret that I let them discourage me from even trying. 🙁

  4. So the registration for sure start already started? I got my application in Jan. but was told to call in April to see when they would start accepting applications..Any help would be greatful Thanks!!!!

  5. My 4 year old is not in the EFMP program either but ANY children w/ a family member in the EFMP program is supposedly given a “preference” (if there is a spot open then your 4 year old would have preference over others) I think regardless of rank.
    I just got the paperwork for my daughter to start. She isn’t part of EFMP but we have a family member who is so she goes as soon as I get her dental/med forms returned.
    You’ll be required to volunteer and a letter concerning that condition will be sent to your husband’s command. My husband is E-7. It isn’t just a rumor. Good luck!

  6. I’m not an expert as others claim to be, but I’d say its worth a shot! I think it goes by rank first, so e-4 and below would beat you out, however, once they move up to e-5 and e-6’s, you would take priority over other e-5, e-6’s, having a daughter in EMFP. I would assume that’s how that works. Fill out the application and give it a shot!

  7. I resently had a little girl that was put on the EFM program(im not sure if I have the letters right. But I was told by having a child on this program that my other child who is getting ready to turn 4 would be able to get in to sure start. He does not fit any of the other things, like low birthweight, he only has one sibling, and his dad is a e5. Anyone know if he will get in or is that just a rumor I heard.

  8. Had to add in what I know, as I am teaching Sure Start for the first time this year.
    Sure Start is a program not only for your child, but for the family too. It is designed for young airmen and their families so EVERYONE can start of on the right foot for their child’s education.
    As for volunteering, for my parents, any meetings they go to, pto events, or field trips count towards their “30 hours.” For deployed family members (mandated by Sure Start program standards), for each month during the school year the family member is on station, they are asked to give 4 hours. So if your husband deploys from October to May, your spouse would only need to volunteer 8 hours (depending on departure).
    Another consideration is to build friendships with other parents whose child is in Sure Start so that you can use each other to babysit while you put in some volunteer hours.
    If you break it down, Sure Start goes to school from September to June- that’s 10 months- 3 hours a month.
    Add in required parent meetings and orientation and you’re already down to about 25 hours to go.
    It’s a great program for those it’s designed for. The only downside as a teacher is tracking down parents to fullfill their commitment to volunteer.
    Also- all commanders are notified of their troops’ participation requirement. If a parent comes to me and says they are having a hard time getting off work to volunteer, I “gulp” have to call the commander… hoping I don’t have to get to that point.

  9. From what was discussed, it is an all day program that requires 3 in home visits and 60 hours of volun(told) services for married parents, 30 hours for single parents. One teacher I spoke with said she has most parents do the entire week volunteering instead of spacing it out. The need to find a sitter is always a challenge for those that have younger children. The time for the program was 8:50-2:50 and parents have to drop off and pick up the child (instead of older siblings). It may be a FREE service, but I was hoping it was more of an educational assist. One can apply and get a phone conference for the approval of the child. It’s just an idea to look into. *shrugs*

  10. Yeah, well, last year my older son was in SS, and I was able to volunteer with my other son. Either way, I think it’s a great way for parents to actually get involved in what their children are doing. They love feeling special and having that time with their parents.
    The teachers want to work with you not against you. So I’m sure if you could find an alternative idea that would benefit both sides they would work with you.

  11. When my son was in SS two years ago, I was given a letter that mandated my command allow me to leave work in order to fullfill the volunteer hours. I was at a Sure Start parents meeting yesterday for my daughter and, believe me, many of the parents there were complaining about everything. I understand that some people may have younger siblings and finding care may be difficult, but this is a FREE program to provide possible at-risk kids with some preschooling. Imagine how much it would cost you to pay for preschool at the CDC or out in town? I’m sure paying a babysitter for a couple of hours every other week is much cheaper.

  12. I don’t think anyone is really complaining-only commenting on how difficult it might be to accomplish this.

    I would find it difficult as well. I have a younger child who has at least 1 therapy appointment per week (usually 2), plus arranging babysitting for him in order to volunteer. You have to remember that Sure Start is offered based on rank-meaning those that get in are often of lower rank-and therefore, can less afford to pay for babysitting for their other children.

    I think requiring the volunteering is a great idea, however, they need to make it feasible. Why not allow some of the hours to be “at home” stuff-making decorations, divvying up supplies for projects, etc?

    I would also like to mention that 30 hours per year might be very hard for some active duty parents-especially those that deploy/go TDY often.

  13. You all should stop complaining, I applied and would gladly put the time in to volunteer and my son did not make it. So just be thankful your not in my shoes, and now looking for another place for your child to go to Preschool.

  14. well i just got my child in and yes it is crazy…60 hrs. total and i have a yonger child.. how dod they expect you to do all this and what happens if you have no one to wath your child then what…i dont have a problem going up to my child’s class to help out but it should be on my own time..

  15. I don’t think there is anything wrong at all with helping out in your child’s classroom! My point was, how does a military spouse, who’s already working far more than 40+ hours a week, find any time to go INTO the classroom to help. Bringing home papers, I can see how that helps. It’s just a bit off putting that both parents are required. I’d gladly take on my husband’s 30 hours in addition to mine, but it’s clear that’s not possible. I’d really love to hear if anyone is dealing with this now and how do they do it? I know they work with us if they’re deployed, but that doesn’t get them out of it!

  16. When I talked to a teacher about this…30 hours its stretched throughout the year. You can talk with the teachers and they can work with you…such as maybe taking some papers home and cutting things out or help with other errands for the class rooms. I’m still in a toss up if my child will be applying because I will still have one child in my care during school hours, but I’m sure they would work around schedules too if it was asked.

  17. I don’t think it’s 30 hours a week. I believe it’s 30 hours throughout the year. And what is wrong with being involved in your child’s schooling? The program is in place to get children who didn’t have the best starts in life a chance to get a good start in school. Part of having a good start in school is having parent involvement.

  18. Melissa, I noticed this too and I got the same glazed over feeling! What are they thinking? My husband is deployed currently and this is his 3rd time in 2 years. When he’s here I am sure that he doesn’t want to have to volunteer 30(!) hours a week there on top of his already busy work schedule. It’s hard enough to get in to Sure Start so why throw that in there. Why wouldn’t 1 parent volunteering work? I just decided that I would find another way to prepare my boys for Kinder. Insane I tell ya, insane!

  19. I just went down to get my other kids re-registered for school and to get my youngest on the wait list for Sure Start. As I was reading the application, it stated that in order for your child to be in Sure Start (aside from all of the other things mentioned above!) BOTH parents (or the 1 parent in a single parent household) must volunteer 30 hours each. My eyes glazed over in irritation after I read this so I may have missed a few details. Like if it has to be in the classroom only. But seriously? Is this new for the coming year, if not I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned before! That rules out Sure Start for us then, because there is no way my husband has any time to actually go into the classroom to volunteer, especially 30 hours! Is there anyone dealing with this situation now, if it is in effect this year anyway? How on earth does your Military Spouse who works during the day, or night, actually do this? Thanks for any input on this!

  20. JUST to clarify I taught SURE START with DODEA… the age cut off is new to DODEA THIS school year. I have only been out of Sure Start for 2 years and I STILL currenty work for DoDEA. If you notice my original post was in 2008. other than that what are the other errors in my post?

  21. We had the Head Start program where we were stationed stateside, perhaps that is what Debbie meant. It was for any child in the community who was flagged for being at some sort of disadvantage (economical, developmental, etc). It was founded by the same basic principal- As an early intervention tool.

  22. There are several errors in Debbie’s post. As the Sure Start teacher at KES for 8 years and 6 in Germany, let me answer a few questions.
    *Children must be 4 by Sept 1-No exceptions
    *You may only apply to your assigned school
    * selection is completed the last week of August, and during the year IF there is an opening.
    * Applications must be complete and turned in before selection date.
    *First priority goes to E-1 until E-4
    *Second priority, E-5-E-6 is based on points determined by the application to include
    Low birth weight
    Single Parent
    4 or more children in the house
    Parent who is ESL
    older child with SEVERE disability in the family
    deployment of parent for more than 6 months

    E-7-E-9 can apply but comprise a third priority.
    Sure Start is limited to 18 students.

  23. Ok, Sure Start.. I can honestly call myself an expert since I have taught it for 10 years, 5 with DoDDS.
    First your child has to be 4 by the cut off. Second, you can only apply if you are E-1 to E-9 and GS-1 to GS-9, that’s it. No warrant officers no officers. Your application will be shredded because those ranks are not able to apply.
    Then it is ranked by priority. This meaning fill out each and every blank to the best of your ability. Single parents do get a priority point as do dual military. However, if a spouse is working but is not on orders that is not considered a priority. The rest of the points come from all the factors that research has shown as key indicators of children that are at-risk of having difficulty in school. This being low birth wieght, one of several children in the household (at least 4 kids in a 5 year span), languages other than English spoken in the home, and others. No matter how many points you have the E-4 and below applications are looked at first. Only until they have exhausted all of those applications to the look at the next “band” which is E-5 to E-7 and then the third band E-8 to E-9.
    I do suggest that no matter what as long as the sponsors rank falls between the E1-E9 and GS1-GS9 range apply apply apply!!! I have had years when I have students up to E7 in my room and then I have had years when no one over E4 got in my class. Plus they do fill in when students PSC. The limit is 18 students so they won’t go past that. Hope this helps! Any other SS questions feel free to pass them along!

  24. Getting into Sure Start at Bob Hope is based on your rank and priority. I would contact the school ASAP to get the paperwork started as enrollment for the 2008 school year has already begun. It’s a process of elimination. Not sure if you have priority being a single parent, but you’ll have priority getting your child into the CDC at least.

  25. We recently applied for Sure Start on Kadena. May info may be off a bit, but this is what I remember. Priority is given to E4 and below, low birth weight, teen moms, parent deployed, and families with 4 or more children. I don’t specifically remember a priority for single parents, but it could have been there. The email address to KES secretary, Mrs. Telly is She is super nice and helpful, I am certain she can point you in the right direction. There is a deadline (sometime in August) for applications, so might be best to apply before you arrive on island.