SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Child care is everyone’s business, whether you’re a parent or not.
That’s part of the message from the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative.
Members say the industry is in crisis, and the community needs to come together to think of solutions.
The U.S . Department of Health and Human Services says if a family makes $60,000 per year, affordable child care would cost $4,200 dollars a year per child.
But a local study found parents were already paying more than twice that amount two years ago.
Families aren’t the only ones struggling.
Child care workers are too.
If they received wages that were competitive with the fast-food industry, yearly tuition would rise to more than $15,000.
Challenges in child care aren’t new, but the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative says the crisis is being worsened by the pandemic, increased competition for workers, and economic pressures.
“As we look at rising expenses, most often times in any other business you would say, ‘Well, just raise your rates. That seems easy. If it costs you more to do business, raise your rates.’ But we actually have a cap in what’s affordable for our families, so we could raise our rates and continue to do that to pay our people a competitive wage in the community. What that does is it really isolates a number of families who are no longer able to afford care,” EmBe CEO Kerri Tietgen said.
When that happens people leave the workforce to stay home.
“The solution exists beyond just our child care industry. If we want people to be able to go to work and if we want this whole community, the economic engine of this community to continue people have to pay attention to the ability to provide affordable care for all,” Tietgen said.
Rebecca Kiesow-Knudsen is the president and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota.
She says one of the top priorities right now is raising awareness about the crisis.
“If we don’t do something as a community more providers are going to be forced to close their doors and there will be even more of a gap in access to care,” Kiesow-Knudsen said.
“What we’re asking for is parents, community members, legislators, our city, city leaders to come together to help figure out the solution,” Tietgen said.