Early childhood education is proven to have beneficial effects on a child’s future. Children who’ve attended such programs are less likely to repeat grades, need special education, or get into future trouble with the law. The issue is so important that is has been made a priority by President Obama during his latest State of the Union speech.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation has its own tool to address this issue, an award winning CPN Child Development Center, which educates children as young as newborns to 12 year olds. A two star Tribal facility, it is an accredited program with the National Indian Child Care Association, National Child Care Association and the Oklahoma Child Care Association.

“We wanted to provide Potawatomi children a place to learn and grow, and there were federal grants available for such work,” said Littlehead. “So we decided to start applying for the federal money, and we’ve built something pretty special.”

The Child Development Center is tribally licensed and can serve up to 400 children. The facility boasts two infant care rooms, two toddler rooms and individual programs for two, three, four and five-year-olds. All teachers working at the center are licensed and hold degrees in early childhood education. In addition to normal early childhood education exercises, the students are taught Potawatomi by Randy Schlachtun, an instructor from the CPN Language Department.

Older children who attend regular elementary education at local schools, there are before and after school programs available. The facilities hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, so parents can manage their work schedules around dropping their kids off.

The school employs 38 staff members, including 14 teachers with college degrees and professional certifications. Another 10 instructors are currently in the process of attaining their certifications and college diplomas.

The Child Development Center’s latest expansion used funds from the 2009 stimulus package through an ARRA Child Development Grant. Through the use of federal funds, the CPN Child Development Center purchased three school buses, which they use to transport students to the after school programs. Improvements were also made to the school’s outdoor playgrounds, which is now completely covered by a pavilion cover in addition to having self-impacting materials to cut down on injuries from falls. 

The Child Development Center also operates a voucher program for Native American parents wanting help with costs for other child care facilities. The voucher program is administered by Keyon Permetter.

“I can help with getting funding for child care centers outside of here if it’s more convenient for the parents,” said Permetter. “I also can help family members get certified under state health guidelines to be caregivers to their own immediate family like grandkids, nieces and nephews.”

While the Child Development Center is currently operating at full capacity, parents are encouraged to get their children’s names on the waiting list as early as possible. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Donnette Littlehead at 405-878-4861.