SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO)–State and local leaders have been working to address a childcare shortage for many years in KELOLAND, finally making a major change this summer.

South Dakota’s Department of Social Services changed the rules, allowing in-home providers to care for 3 infants instead of 2. However, the city of Sioux Falls has not changed its rules for licensed in-home daycares, which means providers can still only have 2 children under 12 months old in their care.

What it’s like for parents searching for infant openings in the city in tonight’s eye on KELOLAND.

“There are a couple different pictures here of his little face,” new mom-to-be Kristin Treeby said.

Kristin Treeby just had her 20-week ultrasound for her baby boy which came as quite the surprise.

“I could tell something was going on and wasn’t sure what and I took a test and there it was, I couldn’t believe it, so I took another and eventually got it confirmed by my doctor,” Treeby said.

After getting over the initial shock, the emergency room nurse began her search for daycare.

“I hadn’t really had that in mind, it wasn’t on our horizon yet,” Treeby said. “I thought well it’s Sioux Falls, there’s bound to be a plethora of options and that is not the case as we’re finding.”

After contacting more than a dozen providers, Treeby is finding the wait for most infant openings in Sioux Falls is a full year, with waitlists too full to add any more names.

“A few dates I’ve gotten from daycares is all the way into August of next year,” Treeby said.

It’s a problem Sioux Falls mom Cassandra Paulson knows all too well after more than a year of calling daycares.

“Tons of them, there’s just not openings, they’re all booked out until the end of next year,” Paulson said.

When Paulson decided to start trying for her second baby, she already had an opening secured at her oldest child’s current provider.

“I was like we’re good, we’ve got it taken care of, then there were two of them and it was a whole new ball game of trying to figure out what are we going to do now,” Paulson said.

She says her twins have been a big blessing, but trying to find another infant opening for baby #2 proved impossible.

“They ended up staying home with me for a while, I was at least lucky enough to be able to work from home,” Paulson said.

That worked well…

“We just rotated babies, every other day one would come here one would come home,” Paulson said.

…until it didn’t.

“I was panicking for a while, especially after they started to get more mobile, I hit panic quite often,” Paulson said.

That’s when Paulson started looking into any possible option for childcare.

“I had a few college students come and help, none of them were really reliable. We did find a mom who was willing to help, but she was only available 3 days a week,” Paulson said.

That stay-at-home mom eventually opened a full-time daycare, finally providing Paulson with full-time childcare for her twins.

“You ready, we gotta go get sister,” Paulson said after her first pick-up stop.

But in order to make childcare work for all three kids, Paulson now has added nearly 45 minutes to her morning and evening routines.

“It’s three different pickups, three different drop-offs,” Paulson said.

While the commute to three different daycares is a major hassle, Paulson says it’s the kind of arrangement many families are having to settle for so both parents can go to work.

“You’re stuck with what’s out there, sometimes that’s not good. I tried out two that were just opening…after about a week at a couple of them, I was like this, this is not ok, so we went back to them staying at home,” Paulson said.

“I think being a first-time parent, there’s a lot of uncertainty and a lot of things on our minds, a lot of stress,” Treeby said.

With the current state of available childcare, Treeby says daycare is at the top of her list for the stress-inducing part of becoming a parent.

“I do feel like choices are limited but I don’t want to go with something just spur of the moment because we need it,” Treeby said.

Like many first-time parents, Treeby anticipated being able to fully vet different options until they find a provider they feel comfortable with.

“I think it’s hard to imagine a stranger with our child, someone you don’t know very well, want to have a good feeling when we walk in these places,” Treeby said.

“You want to be comfortable with them, they’re watching your kids more than you are most the time. You want to know that you can trust them to do what you want to do. Meeting them and knowing they’re going to take care of your kids like you if not better is hugely important,” Paulson said.

It’s a golden relationship that’s become increasingly hard to find in many communities where childcare openings are scarce.

“It’s going to be a big part of our lives, it’s going to be a big adjustment for us and I just want us to find the right place,” Treeby said.

Treeby is on a number of waitlists but is still searching for an infant opening starting in April.  And just as they’re about to celebrate their first birthdays, Paulson’s twins will finally be able to go to the same daycare starting this week.