Simplified: The Sioux Falls City Council in the coming weeks will be looking at a proposal to set aside $450,000 to fund scholarships for people pursuing early childhood education. It's part of an effort to address childcare workforce challenges in the city.

Why it matters

  • The amount of childcare spots for families isn't keeping up with the demand in Sioux Falls, and part of the problem is that centers face staffing issues. Many centers have the space to take in more kids if they had the staff to care for them.
  • But, for those looking at entering the field, pursuing higher education often doesn't make sense economically because the wages for childcare are too low to offset the costs of a degree.
  • The City Council and Southeast Technical College are teaming up to try to help with a proposed scholarship fund to encourage more people in early childhood to pursue postsecondary education and learn the skills they need to be successful in helping kids.
"They receive training and education in educational philosophy and practices – so how do you properly manage a classroom, how do you work with students," said Benjamin Valdez, vice president of academic affairs for Southeast Tech. "How do you ensure their day is developmentally challenged – that you're not just babysitting."

Tell me more about the city proposal

The Regulatory Oversight Committee discussed creating a $450,000 scholarship fund to help students at Southeast Technical College get an associate degree in early childhood education at no cost.

  • The specifics have yet to be hammered out, but it's likely there will be some type of stipulation that students must look at other funding opportunities like Pell grants or other scholarships first. Then the city fund would bridge the gap.

The goal would be to encourage more people to enter the childcare industry to ease workforce challenges providers across the city are facing.

"We’ve experienced tremendous success providing aid to students who study welding, plumbing, and construction," Councilor David Barranco said. "I’m convinced childcare fits that mold."

What happens next?

The committee will have to finalize its proposal and bring it forward to the full council for discussion and final approval.

If approved, Valdez estimates it could help upwards of 30 students receive full-ride scholarships.