Snoqualmie Tribe to open child care center, teach indigenous culture

The Snoqualmie Tribe plans to have its own child care facility, after it announced Jan. 18 that it had secured enough grant funding to convert a former hospital building into a new development center.

The center, which is scheduled to open in October, will serve children between the ages of six weeks and five years whose parents are Tribal members or employees of the Tribe’s entities — such as the casino or Salish Lodge.

It will be located at 9575 Ethan Wade Way SE in Snoqualmie on the Tribe’s administrative campus, and will be converted by StudioMLA Architects to serve up to 70 students. It will be run by Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which operates the Snoqualmie Ridge Early Development Center.

“When I think of the opening of our own child care center, it fills me with joy to know that there will be a place for our children to grow and learn our traditional ways together,” said Culture Director Ginger de los Angeles. “[It’s] a place for our culture to thrive and keep living through our children.”

Lonzell Maddock, the Tribe’s community services director, said the Tribe and Tribal council had been in discussion about a child care center in prior years, but the project never came to fruition. This year, the Tribe was able to pool together excess funding it received from federal COVID-19 grants to build the 100% grant funded child care center.

“We were awarded a once in lifetime funding opportunity to make this happen,” Maddock said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a change to the child care scale in the region, and we thought we could try to bridge some of that gap.”

According to a 2021 data by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families, Snoqualmie Valley zip codes are some of the most in-need of additional child care in all of King County.

Maddock said they are hopeful the new center will be a perk for potential employees and help to reduce job vacancies at the Tribe’s enterprises, which have faced some difficulty hiring as of late.

“As working adults with kids, we wanted to provide that service,” Maddock said. “This is going to be beneficial not only to our Tribal members, but our staff, administration and ultimately provide a benefit to the Valley.”

Besides filling needs, perhaps the most significant aspect of the new center will be its emphasis on teaching and promoting Snoqualmie and indigenous culture.

The Snoqualmie Tribe has been working with Bright Horizons and a cultural design team, which includes members of other Tribes, in developing a curriculum that promotes native language, culture and art. Maddock said the design of the building — including the playground — will also take influence from the Tribe.

“We are excited to partner with them,” Maddock said. “Having our own child care facility, and having a good amount of Tribal kids along with members of the Valley, can bring some great light to the property and instill a lot of cultural relevance.”