The nonprofit MoFi helps leverage new market tax credits to fund rural community projects in low-income areas around the Rocky Mountain region, and now they’re helping to open a 24-hour childcare center and expand a health clinic for the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
When the tribe conducted a survey of casino workers, they found a serious need for affordable childcare, said Tribal Housing Authority Director Patrick Goggles.
“And that need came back that it was a priority of many of the tribal employees because they wanted to be able to continue to work. Some couldn’t work because there wasn’t childcare services available.”
So now the tribe is building a 13,000 square foot childcare center next door to the tribe’s casino. It can hold up to 300 children from infants to school age and will be available to tribal families 24 hours a day. Goggles said around-the-clock care is a need for a couple of reasons.
“The 24-hour aspect is to help place children that are in need of shelter for a short period of time,” said Goggles. “But there are also graveyard shifts at the casino where working mothers or working families need that type of secure, friendly service that they know the people that work there.”
Goggles said the hope is that with more members working, it’ll improve the tribe’s economy. The new center will cost about $4.5 million and should be up and running within the year.
A remodeled and expanded health clinic will also be completed soon. It’ll offer integrated services with a full-time dentist, optometrist and a pediatrician. That’s important since infant mortality on Wind River Reservation is more than twice the rate of non-Natives in Wyoming.
MoFi President Dave Glaser said the clinic will also expand its hours into evenings and weekends.
“Having access to health care 24 hours a day seven days a week is something that many people take for granted and the people in Riverton did not have access to,” he said. “And so this is a really big deal, to keep people from traveling long distances particularly in the winter to get basic health care.”
The clinic will also hire a fulltime therapist to help with drug and alcohol addiction and historical trauma issues.