After five years of planning, fundraising and construction, a dream was realized for Executive Director Nela Cumming and her team at Encompass, as the nonprofit opened its new Child Development Center to the public.
“For us to finally be in it and to have it support our work in so many wonderful ways, it’s a dream,” Cumming said. “The therapists are loving it, the children are loving it. It’s really thrilling.”
The building, located at 9050 384th Ave. SE in Snoqualmie, opened on July 12. It is a one of a kind pediatrics facility specifically designed for therapeutic treatment of children, between ages 3 and 8, who have developmental delays, disabilities and behavioral health challenges.
The center offers a range of therapies, including speech, physical, occupational, feeding, family and motor. The facility also offers groups for children to discuss emotional management, overall health and social skills.
Cumming said throughout the building’s year-long construction, building architects regularly spoke with therapists and the Encompass staff to make adjustments and optimize the building for treatment.
“The thing about this facility is there isn’t anything else like it on the Eastside,” Cumming said. “There are other pediatric therapy places, but there is nothing that looks like this, that’s designed like this, that has the natural outdoor space.”
Encompass first began working on the development center in 2016. The organization completed a feasibility study to gauge community support. Encompass leaders spent the next four years funding raising for the $7 million project, officially buying the property in June of 2019 and breaking ground a year later.
Cumming said the building’s construction had several ups and downs, including an additional year of fundraising and concerns about receiving state funds, but the staff got through it with the support of families they served.
Rebekah McHugh, a mother whose 6-year-old child with Down syndrome has been treated by Encompass staff since he was two-weeks old, said the nonprofit has been critical for her family and her son’s development.
“[The staff] have just listened, offered support and occasional hugs, when the challenges and frustrations of raising a child with special needs becomes overwhelming,” she said at the center’s grand opening celebration Aug. 19. “We would not be where we are without encompass.”
In addition to the new facility, Encompass serves all families with children 8 years old and younger, regardless of ability. They operate preschools in Carnation and North Bend and provide in-home and group services to parents.
“Encompass has been part of the community for 55 years,” King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert said at the opening. “That says something about its lasting power.”
Compared to the old building, the new facility can service 30% more children and has outdoor space, including a play-set and garden, that were previously not available.
Cumming particularly highlighted the building’s kitchen, which is designed to treat those with feeding disorders. She also said the outdoor garden, which is big enough to host two to three therapy sessions, has been the favorite part of the new building for both children and therapists.
“Our vision is a community where all children thrive,” Cumming said. “This place is the physical embodiment of the love, care and support we have for the children in the valley.”