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This week, even the "simplified" versions of the stories today aren't that simple. That's why I'm taking a bit of a deeper dive into today's topics than usual. First, you'll find a look at the vast challenges facing Sioux Falls parents when it comes to childcare – as well as some possible solutions. Then, I've got a look at the complicated journey Sioux Falls' sustainability plan has taken in the last two and a half years.

And now, news:


Why parents can't afford to stay home – or go to work

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories breaking down the findings of a six-month study looking at possible solutions to the childcare crisis in Sioux Falls. Find a broad-strokes overview here.

Simplified: It costs more in one year to send your kid to a childcare center in Sioux Falls than it would to send them to a South Dakota state university. And as parents try to figure out how to balance careers and children, there aren't many ways the math works out, according to the findings from the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative.

Feeding a Baby
Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda / Unsplash

Why it matters

  • Most parents – as many as 9 in 10 – in the city cannot afford childcare. Based on federal definitions of affordability, childcare should take no more than 7% of annual household income.
  • In reality, parents are paying about $11,400 per year per child for childcare. In order to be "affordable," a family would have to make more than $163,000 annually for one child. That's nearly two and a half times the median household income in Sioux Falls.
  • Embe CEO Kerri Tietgen, who's also on the childcare collaborative leadership team gave the example of a four-person household where two parents are college educated and each working professional jobs for a combined income of $90,000 annually. They'd pay about a quarter of their income just in childcare.
  • Even if one parent leaves the workforce, looking at average housing costs, health insurance, monthly student loan payments, utilities, food and other costs of living, there isn't much (if anything) left over.
"Staying home is not an option, and neither is going to work," Tietgen said.

Oh boy. Is that the childcare crisis?

It's a big part of it, yeah.

There are two other major factors at play: lack of available childcare slots and childcare workforce shortages.

  • You'll find a breakdown of that problem and proposed solutions in future stories in this series.

So what are the solutions for parents?

As Mayor Paul TenHaken said Monday night, there are no "home runs" here. Only singles. But here's a look at what the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative is proposing.


Super Simplified Stories

  • A new way to buy tickets. The Washington Pavilion on Tuesday announced a new regional ticketing site called 3Encore.com. The new site will be the official vendor for the pavilion as well as the Orpheum Theater and the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance.
  • Local host families needed. GreenHeart Exchange is looking for Sioux Falls families to host high school exchange students. For more information, contact Angie Baack at 712-790-8291 or GreenHeartExchangeAngie@gmail.com


Sustainable Sioux Falls plan criticized for lack of measurable goals, accountability

Simplified: Dozens of Sioux Falls residents showed up at the City Council informational meeting Tuesday, many of whom got up to criticize the final draft of the city's sustainability plan for a lack of specific, measurable goals.

Sustainability Coordinator Holly Meier addresses City Council on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.

Why it matters

  • The city's sustainability plan has changed significantly from its initial release over a year ago. The final version outlines 10 primary goals, each with a handful of possible action items to be done by either the city, the community or a public-private partnership.
  • Because the document contains no mandates or policy changes, the City Council doesn't have to vote to approve it. That's also a change from last spring when what was then called the "Sustainability and Climate Action Plan" was en route to the council. It was ultimately pulled and sent back for revisions after extensive feedback before it ever made it onto an agenda.
  • The first draft of the plan set a goal for the city to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That goal, along with several others, has been removed from the final version.
"Without measurable goals this framework is likely destined to gather dust on a shelf," resident Julia Natvig told the council on Tuesday.

What goals made the final draft?

And what were the main concerns from residents? Get the full story here.


What I'm falling for this week:


More recent stories

How a $50,000 donation will help connect more Sioux Falls families to the internet
Thousands of Sioux Falls families are eligible for federal funds to help support internet access.
See the features of the new public safety training center
Sioux Falls is spending $55 million on a new state-of-the-art public safety training center set to open later this year. Here’s a look at what the new campus will bring to town.
Why this theater company chose parking lots as its stage
Here’s a look at how the nonprofit is taking a unique, collaborative approach to making performance art accessible.

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What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or sparklers to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

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