SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Professionals who care for kids say Sioux Falls is in the middle of a child care crisis. And a new study by Augustana University confirms it.
The study says not only is day care hard to find, but it is also so expensive some parents are forced to stay home even though they would like to work.
Wildflower Academy is one of the newer day cares in Sioux Falls. It started in 2020.
Owner, Ametrea Christion says every day she sees the struggles of parents trying to balance the cost of day care with working full time. And she is not surprised by the results of the study.
“Just this week we had a couple day cares that we know of that doors were closing because of staffing issues and there are waitlists everywhere,” Christion said.
In Sioux Falls in 75 percent of households both parents work, nationally that is only 66 percent. So when you break it down we actually need more day care than most other cities.
Kyle Volovlek and his wife both work. He says finding day care for their 3-year-old son wasn’t easy.
“So, it’s very hard you know everywhere we checked it seemed like everyone was pretty much full,” Volovlek
Kyle says he talked with day care providers who could not take his son because of staffing issues. Just like other businesses, finding workers is a challenge.
The average day care worker in the city makes around $22,000 a year.
“Right now an employee can go work at a fast food place and get paid several dollars more than what I can offer them,” Christion said.
According to the study, the cost of child care for “one” child is close to $10,000 a year.
When the surveys were conducted, day care owners who responded reported more than 900 families waiting for openings for their children.
“As a parent, I want to know that maybe look at a couple of options and pick the best option for me but parents are having to limit their options because there’s not space so you might have to go to a day care that might not be your first option,” Christion said.
Those who work in the day care industry say finally having the study and the hard numbers to prove there is a big problem is the first step in finding a solution.
The study also looked at how day care impacts the rest of the business world. About 4,000 people, would like to work more but stay home because they can’t find good affordable day care. That’s 4,000 people that could be filling many of the jobs out there.