SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Kids Inc. in Sioux Falls provides after school care at the 22 traditional elementary schools. Demand is so high for the program, most schools have waiting lists. Unfortunately, Kids Inc. and many other child care providers are struggling to find workers which limits the number of families who can access the care.
Brad Kennett’s daughters have gone to Kids Inc. the past six years. The Washington High School Business Teacher loves the program and even promotes it to his teenage students.
“I’ve had many of my high school students that work for Kids Inc. and have loved the experience. Normally that’s the one place I recommend right away when a student is looking for employment. Have students still that, three years later after graduating, still work for Kids Inc.,” Kennett said.
Nationally, teenagers participated in the workforce at a nearly 34-percent rate in 2016 according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from 52-percent in 2000.
“It’s different from when I was in school, I think they’re just so involved. Which is perfect. I know here at Washington, we have over 70 different activities they can be involved in,” Kennett said.
While that’s good for those teenagers’ student performance, it’s leaving organizations like Kids Inc. with a workforce shortage.
“They just have to be 16 years old, they could be an extra hand at a site,” Kids Inc. Program Manager Jodi Miller said.
Teenagers are just one of the groups program manager Jodi Miller is targeting for recruitment. If she can’t increase her staff, enrollment in after school care will have to be cut back in Sioux Falls.
“Our helper positions are minimum wage but in South Dakota that’s $9.10 an hour. Our lead helper positions start at $12.40 an hour up to our site directors are starting at over $18 an hour with benefits,” Miller said.
More education is needed for some of the higher positions. Those are jobs college-age students could fill.
“What we need is people that are passionate about making a difference with kids and people that want to be there every day,” Miller said.
That’s why Miller and Kids Inc. are starting a full-on campaign to create awareness.
Miller says at any given time throughout the year, Kids Inc. has more than a dozen openings. In Wednesday’s Eye on KELOLAND we’ll show you what other groups of people the organization is trying to recruit and why child care providers are calling the current situation a crisis.