Master of Ceremonies Kalen SunRhodes (Photo by Kyle Duba)
A new childcare center will provide Northern Arapaho Tribal parents living on and near the Wind River Reservation the flexibility and support to find and maintain jobs, go to school and increase income potential.
Among those to benefit are the more than 500 employees working shifts around the clock at the nearby Wind River Casino, Tribal agencies and schools, many of whom struggle to find reliable childcare during working hours.
The new, 13,000-square-foot Red Wolf Child Care Center in Riverton, Wyoming, will operate 24 hours a day and accommodate up to 250 children, ranging in age from newborn to 10 years old.
Tribal leaders, government officials and community members gathered Thursday, December 5, for an opening dedication and ribbon cutting at Red Wolf Child Care Center. Convened in honor of the late Northern Arapaho Business Council member Norman Willow, Sr., the event marks a milestone in a longstanding effort to expand access to high-quality, affordable childcare for residents living on and near the reservation.
Red Wolf Child Care will be certified by Tribal Resolution and seek “Gold Star” designation, a certification from the Wyoming Department of Family Services. It will provide age-specific educational and recreational activities, as well as a state-of-the-art playground and enrichment park to help kids build strength, creativity and social skills. A sliding fee option will be available to assist low-income families.
Financing the $4.5M Childcare Center
Financing for the new $4.5 million center came from the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program; Northern Plains Office of Native American Programs, Denver, Colorado; Northern Arapaho Tribe, First Interstate Bank; and the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program, provided by the nonprofit community development lender, MoFi.
The NMTC is a bipartisan federal program designed to incentivize private capital investment in economically underserved areas. MoFi has used NMTC to help finance several projects in Wyoming including the newly expanded Wind River Cares clinic in Riverton, and the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in Torrington. The nonprofit will soon be announcing funding for another project in Laramie.
MoFi President Dave Glaser said, “This is a great community project and a wonderful use of the federal tax credits. The Red Wolf Child Care Center will have a huge impact on families – many parents have had to choose between working and taking care of their children due to the lack of childcare options in the area. This project removes that barrier. We were honored to work with the Northern Arapaho tribal leaders and First Interstate Bank to make their vision a reality.”
Thursday’s opening dedication included a presentation of colors by the Arapaho Warriors; Flag Song by the Eagle Drum; dedication eulogy in memory of Norman Willow, Sr., “Red Wolf”; remarks by Lee Spoonhunter, Chairman, Northern Arapaho Business Council, Al Addison, Co-Chairman, Northern Arapaho Business Council, and Harvey Spoonhunter, Chairman, Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing. Their remarks were followed by a ribbon-cutting with Sarah Willow, Norman Willow, Jr., and Desirae Willow.