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Cherokee Nation announces $40 million Head Start investment

Cherokee Nation announces $40 million Head Start investment

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The Cherokee Nation is putting additional funds toward its early childhood programs.

First announced in September and approved unanimously Oct. 12 by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. formally signed legislation Tuesday to invest $40 million in federal and general funds toward replacing eight existing Cherokee Nation Head Start centers with new facilities and upgrade others within the tribe’s reservation.

New Cherokee Nation Head Start Centers are planned for construction in Tahlequah, Nowata, Kenwood, Jay, Cherry Tree, Redbird, Salina and Pryor.

The tribe also operates a Head Start facility in Shady Grove and collaborates with eight school districts to provide Head Start services for pre-kindergarten students.

The tribe’s current Head Start campuses serve about 900 children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 5 years old across 65 classrooms throughout northeastern Oklahoma.

Named for Cherokee Nation Head Start Director Verna Thompson, the measure also calls for a comprehensive review of the tribe’s early childhood education services.

“Cherokees have long known that the first years of any child’s life should be spent in a nurturing and enriching environment to help build the best possible foundation for their lives,” Hoskin said. “Our collective future is being written today by the investments we are making in our youngest children.

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My primary beat is public education. I am a third-generation graduate of Oklahoma State University, a board member for Oklahoma SPJ and an active member of the Native American Journalists Association.

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