OLC Offers Day Care, Childcare Training

Aug 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-1: Honoring Our Students & Alumni, Tribal College News

Oglala Lakota College (OLC) student Tiffany Janis, a 31 year old mother with three children, is three semesters away from earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration. She travels 15 miles one way to attend classes when she can find reliable childcare. She has struggled for seven years to get to where she is today.

Now the tribal college in South Dakota is making it easier for Janis and other students who are parents to find reliable, well trained child care providers. OLC opened two of its own daycare centers in February, and four more will open at the end of the summer. Janis is excited about the daycare centers. She said, “I know if I would have had a place for my kids while I was in school, I could have been done in four years.” Now that the childcare centers are being built, Janis is looking into pursuing her master’s degree.

OLC has operated a decentralized system since its inception 30 years ago, offering classes in nine instructional centers on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The college now serves over 1,300 students a semester, and officials expect it to grow larger with the day care centers.

The first two centers were completed through a grant from the American Indian College Fund. Located in the communities of Oglala and Manderson, they utilize TANF (welfare) volunteers and other parent volunteers, in addition to the paid staff. The center at Oglala has a Lakota language program, thanks to Muriel Lakota, the child care provider supervisor who is fluent in the Lakota language.

OLC requires the child care providers to get their Child Development Associate (CDA) training, which is available through the college. This CDA project was started by OLC’s Welfare to Work Program in 1999 under the direction of Terry Albers. Operated in collaboration with the South Dakota CDA project, it is designed to give the students 131 training hours in addition to mentoring and advising services. OLC also offers training for any infant/toddler caregivers on the reservation. Funded by the Bush Foundation, this program includes first aid and CPR training and certification.

Students who want to go beyond certificates can earn associate degrees in early childhood at OLC. About 100 students have come to the college to seek degrees in this field.

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