Sioux Falls childcare needs at critical levels as two centers close

Childcare needs reach critical levels as two Sioux Falls centers close
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 8:06 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Amidst a difficult time in finding child care in Sioux Falls, two more centers are announcing they’ll be closing their doors. After caring for kids for over 50 years, the Unit Methodist Church Preschool and Daycare at both Asbury United Methodist and First United Methodist Churches will be ending their services on September 30th. Directors say it was a painful decision.

60 Children currently walk through the church doors as part of the daycare and preschool program, as did hundreds of kids before them.

The struggle to find employees lead to their decision, according to consultant Margaret Sumption, who is assisting the care centers through the transition to closure.

“Staffing challenges that have been becoming more acute over the last six to nine months, which has really created an environment where continuing as the organization had been working, is simply unachievable,” said Sumption.

Board President of the United Childcare and Preschool Inc Jim Gray, the organization operating the centers, knows this is a challenge for families, saying:

“Continuity of care for our children in service and for our staff is of our utmost consideration as we transition through this difficult time. Childcare is in a critical state in our community. We are saddened that we are not able to see any other path forward at this time.”

Sumption has walked alongside many regional and national non-profits, including other childcare centers. She provided input during the last childcare crisis in the late 80s.

“I can see all of it coming full circle. And so what it tells me is we didn’t get it right last time, and we need to work and really look critically, not just how to get it right, but how to keep it right,” said Sumption.

She believes a diverse group of organizations wanting growth and success in the community need to join together.

“I believe it’s an economic development issue. I believe that it is absolutely critical for our employment community, our governmental entities and our policymakers to be actively engaged in this work,” said Sumption. “And I believe that the community needs to understand that it is an ongoing process. It is not a one and done.”

The families affected by this childcare closure are encouraged to contact the helpline center to find new places to bring their children to, which is a unique challenge when finding care is already difficult.

“And I believe that the community needs to understand that it is an ongoing process. It is not a one-and-done,” said Sumption.

The closure date was chosen to make the least impact on families, as a portion of the kids is graduating from the program to enter kindergarten.

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