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New Delaware tribal complex to rise in Bartlesville

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - The Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma expect to have a new tribal complex completed by January 2001.

The 12,000 square foot complex also will house a community day care center.

The new tribal complex will be at the corner of Madison and Tuxedo boulevards in Bartlesville and will offer quality day care along with other services geared toward parents and children.

The complex was needed to meet the growing need for infant and toddler care in the Bartlesville area. Sharing the building will be a community center that can hold 450 people. It will be used in the summer for activities aimed at school-age children.

The Delaware already have several programs set up for school age children in the area and expect programs at the new complex to be an extension of those services.

"We're going to be focusing on infant and toddler programming and getting certified with the state of Oklahoma to be a three-star, accredited center, which means that you have high quality, trained teachers in the program. There is a shortage of infant and toddler childcare slots all over," said Sherry Rackliff, director of tribal programs.

Although the focus of the program is on infants and toddlers, school-age children won't be left out. "They do a lot of field trips, a lot of activities that are educational but fun," Rackliff added. The new complex means even more children will have a safe and educational environment when they are out of school, which will help working parents.

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The day care center initially will be licensed for 47 children, Rackliff said. But childcare is only a small part of planned services for parents. Rackliff said the tribe plans a clearinghouse for information for families and parents.

"We are going to have parent classes. We will have a parent resource area where parents can go in and get information on other programs that can help them within the community. There will also be information on parenting skills, like what to do if a child bites."

The teacher to children ratio will be 1 to 4 for infants and 1 to 6 for toddlers. The day care center will accommodate both tribal and non-tribal members.

"It will be opened to everyone in the community. We will be state licensed, so people can apply to the state for assistance or they can apply to the tribe for assistance. Karen Lay in our office would be the contact for that." Rackliff said.

Part of the funding for the $1.2 million complex is coming from the tribal childcare and development fund and a state start-up grant will allow the tribe to buy equipment for the playground and day care center. Rackliff said the tribe also received an Indian community development block grant.

The complex will have a fully equipped kitchen adjacent to the Great Meeting Room which will accommodate gatherings for Delaware cultural community activities. The tribe plans to make the center available to outside organizations and individuals as a lease facility to help provide maintenance income.

The new complex will be an additional resource for quality childcare and will not replace the present childcare facility in Nowata, Okla. No staff has been hired for the new day care complex, but Rackliff said she expected that process to begin in late winter 2000. The center probably will begin taking applications from parents for childcare by March 2001.

For more information on the new day care center, contact the Delaware Tribe at (918) 336-5272.