Tribal College Students Embracing ECE Initiatives at NWIC

Things are moving fast at the Northwest Indian College and the Lummi community. The last 3 ½ years of collaboration and planning on behalf of the Sacred Little Ones project leadership and partners has created many exciting new opportunities for families and children in the Lummi community. The Wakanyeja “Sacred Little Ones” Early Childhood Education Initiative, from the American Indian College Fund, has supported the incubation of these projects and collaborations, and allowed us to build a foundation that will support the continuation of these amazing partnerships.

The Early Learning Center at the Northwest Indian College has made great strides in our overall quality and has enrolled in the Washington State Department of Early Learning’s Early Achievers program. Early Achievers is a quality rating and improvement system for state licensed child care programs that is providing support, resources, and guidance for Early Learning Center management and staff as we work to provide an environment where young children and families will thrive. The support we receive from Sacred Little Ones and the Ké’ Family Engagement grants will allow us to meet these quality goals.

Furthermore, Sacred Little Ones is helping to enrich the curricula used at all of our partner early learning programs. Every Professional Learning Community participant has received an Identity Safety Literacy Kit and a classroom enhancement stipend, to ensure that teachers are using instructional materials that foster place-based education and create culturally responsive learning environments.

The Sacred Little Ones and Ké’ leadership teams have also created new connections between the numerous early learning and family support programs in the Lummi community. The Ey’ Snat Family Fun events were previously limited to families with children enrolled in the Lummi Head Start and Early Head Start programs. The Ké’ Family Engagement team has worked to bridge the gaps between families served by these programs and the NWIC Early Learning Center, Lummi Childcare and the Teen Parent Child Development Center. Recent events have included a traditional Lummi salmon BBQ, Coast Salish art lessons, drum making, and dancing. By welcoming families from the numerous early learning programs, and pairing health and wellness information and resources with Lummi cultural activities, the participation in these events has skyrocketed. We look forward to many more of these wonderful family centered events as we continue to strengthen the web of early childhood and family support programs.

Written by Alicia Allard, Early Learning Center Director | March 2015

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