SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Parents in communities across the state often struggle finding an affordable day care to watch their kids while they work.
And, day cares often have a hard time finding enough employees.

Now, the state is offering a $3 million grant to expand child care opportunities.

In Sioux Falls, hundreds of parents trust Apple Tree Children’s Center to watch their little ones while they’re away at work.
Program Director Lori Braley says news of the new grant program is welcome news.

“We do plan on applying, each one of these grants that have come through have been incredibly helpful in not only keeping the centers up and running, but helping us to provide quality care,” said Apple Tree Children’s Center Program Director Lori Braley.

Braley says while there is no shortage of children, there is a shortage of staff.

“We really are struggling finding quality child care providers. There’s so many opportunities right now, for people to have different employment. And we’re just not able to fill all those spots we have. And then if we don’t have the teachers, we can’t fill up the classrooms,” said Braley.

Braley has high hopes that the grant will help ease those staffing struggles.

“But it looks like this grant is also maybe a stepping stone to find out what it is we need and perhaps apply for more money, and that if we can do that, and maybe put towards something out there, that would help us to not only get the staff but retain them,” said Braley.

The money – from the American Rescue Plan – is available to state-licensed child care facilities, like Apple Tree.

But, they need to have a solid plan involving other community partners, such as non profits, school districts and businesses.

“That is the thing that kind of got me excited about this grant was the fact that maybe we can actually do more with it or have a have a plan that will take us further down the road,” said Braley.

The deadline to apply for the grant is October 27th. Awardees will be notified the first week of November.