Our commitment to improve the lives of current and future generations of the Suquamish Tribe is directly linked to our education initiatives. For children to succeed in school, they must have a strong foundation of early education and school-readiness.
Our tribe has provided Head Start, Early Head Start, full-day preschool, and child care since 1999 for tribal members and the broader community. Until now, these services were provided in converted retail space that is woefully inadequate. Until 2006 the space had been adjacent to the Tribal Police, Courts, and Government Center, making it a high traffic area and unsafe for our children.
The increased need for early childhood education and child care in our rural community far exceeded the capacity of the old facility. There were frequently twice as many names on the waiting list as there were children enrolled.
The old facility also lacked separate classrooms for different age groups, had no space for parenting classes and intergenerational activities, and failed to reflect Suquamish culture in design and function.
The new Marion Forsman-Boushie Suquamish Early Learning Center opened its doors in May 15, 2007. The new building is a 12,000 square foot space on the Tribe's 20-acre education campus. The facility provides culturally appropriate child care, Early Head Start and Head Start, and parent/caregiver involvement programs.
All classrooms feature height-appropriate and safety conscious facilities. The classrooms for school-aged children include computers. It also features four age-appropriate outdoor play areas, with a traditional community house, amphitheater and carved canoe for cultural education activities.
The Center features a large multi-purpose room to host parent meetings, classes, and cultural programs and to serve as an indoor playground on rainy days. The Center has a commercial kitchen equipped to prepare two snacks and a lunch daily and other meals as necessary. The Center's administrative areas are designed to accommodate the expansion of the teaching staff to meet increased enrollment.
The new facility increased the number of children we can serve substantially: 300% for child care and 40% for Early Head Start, while maintaining the number of Head Start participants at 36 children.