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New report shows potential solutions to the Sioux Falls child care crisis

Sioux Falls ChildCare Collaborative recently released its findings from an 8 month study about the child care crisis.
Sioux Falls Thrive
Sioux Falls ChildCare Collaborative recently released its findings from an 8 month study about the child care crisis.

A new report outlines potential solutions for the child care crisis in Sioux Falls.

Last October, the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative hired two coordinators to research and recommend potential solutions to help the child care crisis. Their new report shows the lack of affordability in child care, and ways that local and state governments can help.

Kerri Tietgen, the CEO of EmBe, said the high cost of child care is impacting a large portion of the workforce.

“The number of households making under $100,000 today in the state of South Dakota is 81%, and in Sioux Falls that's 77%. So in Sioux Falls, 72,000 households are faced with this exact challenge of not having enough left over at the end of the day to make ends meet, nor do they have the option to stay home,” said Tietgen.

According to the report, child care in Sioux Falls costs over $11,000 a year.

Childcare cost statistics
Community Childcare Initiative Final Report
Childcare cost statistics

Nicole Fluth, one of the coordinators for the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative, said there can’t be a strong workforce now and in the future without child care.

"When we look at child care, we're looking at the workforce behind our workforce," said Fluth. "If they don't have the workforce or their staff to be able to open up slots and have children there to take care of, parents aren't able to go to work.”

Although there is no single solution to such a nuanced issue, the report offers solutions on the local, state and business levels.

For the local level, some suggested solutions were to increase pathways to the child care profession, creating an office of child and youth development, and creating a family scholarship fund, among others.

For the state, the report recommended creating a child care task force, business incentive grants and wage parity, as well as revamping child care assistance.

The report also recommended businesses to develop more family-friendly practices and to provide employer-paid child care assistance.

"All community leaders need to consider child care and early learning a top priority," said Fluth.

Advocates say it’s important to implement these solutions sooner than later.

“We're going to continue to see small businesses close because they can't find employees," said Michelle Erpenbach, president of Sioux Falls Thrive. "We're going to still see our child care centers closing struggling to make ends meet or raising tuition costs to the point that families can't afford it and do have to make that mathematical decision instead of a decision. That maybe is more led by their heart or led by what's most beneficial for their family.”

The full report can be found at

Madeline Grabow is a South Dakota Public Broadcasting intern based in Sioux Falls. She is a sophomore at Georgetown University studying international politics.