Twenty five years ago, in 1983 in Kahnawake, two mothers were introduced to each other by the community nurse. These two mothers each had a child with developmental delays and were encouraged to meet together for mutual support. Soon after an additional five mothers were contacted and encouraged to join what became a self help group. From weekly meetings with children in tow in an old pool hall evolved the decision to establish an inclusive center for young children in Kahnawake. The primary goal based on the needs of these seven founding mothers is to provide inclusive early intervention and preventive educational and training programs to “multi-handicapped, developmentally delayed and “at risk” preschoolers and their families within their own community. The group began rallying the support of the community through meetings with elders and community leaders, newsletters, radio talk shows and various fundraising activities. This led to the hiring of a consultant to conduct a needs assessment and a funding proposal for the establishment of an early intervention program in Kahnawake. The group used this proposal to pursue funding from both community as well as federal and provincial government sources.
Our Founding Principles and Values
SBS believes that all things are related and one is always affected by the other. Therefore, SBS uses a holistic approach in providing support, programs, and services for the emotional, spiritual, cultural, intellectual, and social growth and development of each child in partnership with parents. The Center provides counseling, support, and parent education in order to continue fostering stronger Kanien’kehaka. SBS also works closely with other organizations to ensure quality of care and support for families.
Over generations of time, elders have spoken of the traditions and values of a society which respects and dignifies each of its members equally. A basic philosophy of the Step By Step Child and FamilyCenter is that every child has the right to be a part of the mainstream. Carefully preplanned inclusive learning experiences among parent, children, and the community fosters not only societal acceptance and stigma reduction but also promotes learning of important social and academic skills. Children who are “differently abled” are not excluded or segregated in special rooms or buildings.
Culture and Language
As a foundation for children’s learning at SBS, culture and language is incorporated seamlessly into the curriculum. The experience and expertise of the individual staff with culture and language is the advantage to teaching our children. However, to improve upon staff, children and families' learning, the position of Mohawk Language and Cultural Facilitator was created in 2006.
Having been founded by seven mothers, SBS still maintains as its primary guiding principle that parents are first and foremost the first teachers of their children. They are the key to their child’s learning and must be involved. Since daycare was introduced in 1994 through the Childcare Initiatives program and then again in 2002 through the Province, parents developed misconceptions to their involvement in these programs. Some saw daycare as more of a “babysitting service” and that there was no pressure for them to be as involved. Unfortunately the literature and the news media about the Provincial daycare system supported this belief.
Since that time and presently, SBS reaffirms to families and the community at large that when they become a part of SBS, they have the same responsibility as the original seven mothers.