Sioux Falls Community Centers potentially transition into paid childcare facilities

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:20 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - During summer break, Falecha Brown and her boys frequented the Kuehn Park Drop-In Center.

“It’s just something that we do. It gets us off the couch; it gets us exercising together,” said Brown.

The center was where the community would come together to have fun and stay active until a notice on the door announced new plans for the facility.

“A note just saying that all community centers were closing in the Sioux Falls school districts were taking them over,” said Brown.

The Community Centers are owned by the school system, with a user agreement in place that the city operates programming, but the relationship may be changing.

“Moving forward, we’re looking at having that run directly through the school district. However, those discussions are still ongoing, and nothing’s been finalized at this time,” said Jackie Nelson, Sioux Falls Recreation Manager.

The transition may happen in July, weeks after school is out for the summer.

“Our understanding is they are not planning to run any programs this summer if that passes through City council,” Rebecca Wimmer with the Sioux Falls School District. “If that were to happen. The Sioux Falls School District has indicated that we would be willing to assume that space.”

Regardless of the city’s decision, the school is launching a Community Learning Center Model this summer that requires registration and possibly tuition depending on income. The full-day program offers complete childcare.

“A much more structured, supervised way where the kids really can have an environment where they can thrive,” said Rebecca.

Although the city is stepping away from community centers, kids can be registered for other parks and rec summer programs.

“And we have all sorts of new activities throughout the entire city of Sioux Falls, both indoors and outdoors,” said Jackie.

While elementary students may have more options, the loss of community centers for older kids could be a problem, as the only similar drop-in program is at the downtown YMCA.

“Middle schoolers and high schoolers, and adults that want to go play basketball or run around. There’s no way. There’s no way too many people for such a small gym,” said Falecha.

Falecha and her sons are looking for more options, “and these two have been going a long time. We don’t know what they’re going to do.”