Cherokee Nation announces $40 million investment for multiple education centers

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KOKI) — Cherokee Nation Chief Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. has announced the investment of up to $40 million to replace seven existing Cherokee Nation Head Start centers.

The $40 million investment legislation called the “Verna D. Thompson Early Childhood Education Act” will modernize facilities for thousands of children, predominantly Cherokee and from low income homes as young as six weeks to pre-school age who are learning vital cognitive, language, motor and social skills. Cherokee Nation serves students at its main campus in Tahlequah and in 65 other classrooms across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

“Our partnership with the federal Head Start program has improved the education, health and general welfare of thousands of Cherokee families across the reservation,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Since we started the program in 1978 we have received the highest of ratings by the United States Department of Health and Human Services evaluators and it’s high time we now build these programs modern, state-of-the art learning environments so our youngest of Cherokees - who rely on us for early learning - have all the tools they need to continue thriving.”

The Cherokee Nation says they currently serve about 880 children through all of its Head Start programs.

Cherokee Nation Head Start Centers planned for construction are Tahlequah, Nowata, Kenwood, Jay, Cherry Tree in Stilwell, Redbird in Sallisaw, and Salina. The Head Start in Pryor that was previously in construction planning stages will also resume with further funding from the act.

The Cherokee Nation says funding for the upgrades and new Head Start replacements will come from federal funding and limited general funds for planning.