‘We go to work so that the rest of the community can go to work’: The crisis in finding child care

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Due to a shortage of workers and a rising price tag for care, the city of Sioux Falls and many other cities across the nation are facing a child care crisis. And the impact goes beyond families with young children.

Child care is a major piece of the operations of a city’s economy.

“We go to work so that the rest of the community can go to work and once we’re not able to do that or if we’re not able to care for children then parents have to stay home,” Kerri Tietgen, CEO of EmBe said.

So a child care crisis can trickle down to the rest of the community.

“I think we’re going to look at, if we don’t do some significant changes in our communities, we’re going to see an increased workforce crisis,” Rebecca Wimmer, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire, said.

In a city like Sioux Falls, when we’re seeing some economic growth and we’re very excited about that economic growth, such as Amazon coming, things like that, that really has the ability to boost the economy of a city. If those places come and they’re not able to find the workforce that they need to continue to do their operations, they’re going to look elsewhere.

Rebecca Wimmer, CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire

Many child care centers have looked at raising wages for staff to encourage new employees, but that leads to higher rates for parents to pay. Kerri Tietgen at EmBe says creating a positive workforce culture is also important.

“One of the things that we’re focusing on is creating a culture and our mission is to empower women and families. And that includes empowering our families and teachers within the program and creating a culture that our team wants to be a part of,” Tietgen said. “When our team is happy, our families are happy, our children are happy and so I feel really proud about the direction we’re going that way.”

But a solution is going to take teamwork from the whole community.

“There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all fix for this,” Wimmer said. “There’s not going to be a silver bullet where we can say, ‘if we just do that one thing, we can change it.’ It’s going to be multi-faceted, and it’s going to take the collective minds of our entire community.”

I think the question about what do we do to support and address our child care in our community — keep asking. I think one of the things that we need to do that will change the trajectory of this conversation is our community asking the question.

Kerri Tietgen, CEO of EmBe

In Monday night’s Eye on KELOLAND, Lauren Soulek will take a deeper look into the crisis, specifically to how it relates to after-school care in the city.

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