Simplified: A number of community organizations in Sioux Falls are working together to help more people open daycares in Sioux Falls and to connect parents with open spots.

Why it matters 

  • This is some of the first real, tangible action the community has taken to enact recommendations made last summer by the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative. 
  • The work is facilitated by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, which is working with partner organizations including the Helpline Center, Startup Sioux Falls, Lutheran Social Services, the City of Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls Thrive.
  • Its worth noting that right now these groups are working with a $31,500 budget from a Governor's Office of Economic Development grant. But, the hope is they’ll use that money to learn more about the specific needs of providers in order to secure hundreds of thousands more dollars for implementation. 
"This next step that we're taking right now through this grant is really the first propulsion of moving action forward," said Mike Gray, director of business development for the development foundation. "We're finally going to see some action out of the Childcare Collaborative's recommendations."

So, what solutions will parents see?

There are two main goals the organizations have right now: 

  1. Make it easier for the Helpline Center to keep track of childcare openings and communicate that to parents. 
  2. Get more people to open up daycares, and support them as business owners and entrepreneurs.

And while there’s hopefully more funding on the way to make this possible, Startup Sioux Falls has already secured funding from Bancorp to support a bootcamp and a multi-week Co.Starters program specific to existing and aspiring childcare providers.

Tell me more about support for providers

Startup Sioux Falls sees its role in this as a way to help providers see themselves as entrepreneurs, Vice President Sara Lum said. They’ll help them put together business plans, connect to resources within the city — including LSS, and the hope is to even see some multilingual providers participating. 

“This is a much bigger problem than Startup Sioux Falls or any of the other organizations within the partnership can solve," Lum said of the ongoing childcare crisis. "The business support is one piece we can help contribute."

Did we do it? Did we solve the crisis?

To quote Mayor Paul TenHaken’s refrain on this, there are no home runs here, only singles.

  • This is a single, but Gray said the long-term goal would be to acquire funding to support a total of four Co.Starters cohorts as well as more money for the Helpline Center. 

Best case scenario, he added, this effort will bring hundreds more daycare spots to the city. 

"It’s super important that we remember this is only one slice of the overall childcare crisis," Sioux Falls Thrive President Michelle Erpenbach said. "But this solution could provide several dozen childcare openings, particularly in neighborhoods where lack of transportation is a barrier."

What happens next?

Startup Sioux Falls will hold focus groups from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 18 and 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 20.

Similarly, LSS is also looking to expand resources, specifically for multilingual childcare providers and for immigrants and refugees looking to provide culturally appropriate care.

  • To learn more about the LSS program, call 605-731-2000 or stop in the Fishback Campus for Opportunity, 300 E. Sixth St. There will be three focus groups held there Feb. 21, but participants are asked to sign up first.