SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A child care provider in Sioux Falls is closing.
The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church confirmed to KELOLAND News it plans to stop offering child care services from its location in southeastern Sioux Falls.
Michael Johnson, pastor at Good Shepherd, said rising costs and worker shortages have been the biggest challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson said it was no longer financially feasible to continue operating a child care center.
“It was a difficult decision that no one enjoyed making,” Johnson told KELOLAND News.
Johnson said the church is looking at ways to support families and staff that will be affected by the closure. The last day of service will be Nov. 10.
Good Shepherd has been providing child care for infants all the way to kindergarten age. According to its website, Good Shepherd had a full time rate of $235 per week and did not offer part-time rates.
According to the Department of Social Services, Good Shepherd Early Childhood was a state licensed day care center with a capacity of 225 spots. Johnson said Good Shepherd provided child care for around 100 kids.
Good Shepherd received $360,000 in American Rescue Plan Act child care stabilization grant money, according to the DSS.
Johnson confirmed the child care provider received the government funding and was grateful for it.
“It helped us stay open and pay employees during and after covid and was used for those purposes,” Johnson said.
In 2022, United Childcare and Preschool closed its child care services in Sioux Falls. Officials with United Childcare and Preschool cited child care services couldn’t work under the current nonprofit corporation model.
During the last legislative session, no action was taken by lawmakers on the topic of child care despite legislative leaders acknowledging it as a challenge for families in the state.
Republican Sen. Tim Reed told KELOLAND News he’s been holding informal meetings with economic development groups and child care advocates to gather more information and possible legislative solutions to the issue.
Data from the Sioux Falls Child Care Collaborative said a family with one child would need to make $163,429 to “afford” child care at current tuition rates in Sioux Falls. The U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services said child care tuition should cost no more than 7% of the household income to be considered “affordable.”
Sioux Falls Thrive President Michelle Erpenbach says the upcoming closure is more proof of a broken childcare system.
“Our working parents cannot afford child care. Our business, our child care businesses, cannot afford to run child care business. The model doesn’t work,” Erpenbach said.
In the collaborative’s 97-page report, Sioux Falls is home to 12,260 licensed child care slots for 12,904 children with all available parents working. Erpenbach said no state government or local government provides any child care assistance right now.
She called for an office of child and youth development to be created to start handling issues with child care and the business model. Erpenbach said she believes in two weeks, when Good Shepherd closes, there will be working parents that stay home with kids because they can’t find child care.
“We claim to be a family-friendly state and a family-friendly community but only can we be a family-friendly community if our working families can have access affordable child care,” Erpenbach said.
KELOLAND’s Kelli Volk with have a full report on the closure on KELOLAND News airing tonight.