Early Explorers opens in Harrisburg; owner’s 5th rural childcare center

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HARRISBURG, S.D. (KELO) — A New Daycare Center opened in Harrisburg last month, the latest expansion of a South Dakota company that now owns and operates five daycares in rural South Dakota communities.

“It’s a very important job because we’re helping raise these young kiddos and helping them grow and learn,” Early Explorers Executive Director Kelly Irvin said.

It’s a big job, but right now Irvin says not enough people are doing it.

“There’s such a need for childcare,” Irvin said. “We had 60 kids pre-registered before we even opened our doors.”

Daycare wait lists are filling up all over Sioux Falls, but Irvin says the demand is even higher in surrounding communities.

“There’s a total need in the small towns for child care, a lot of them are coming to Sioux Falls or they have siblings and just trying to get them under the same roof is a key factor,” Irvin said.

It’s why Irvin and her team are focusing on providing more all-age daycare facilities around the region.

“We have Super Titans that we started just over four years ago, then Early Explorers in Tea, then this one [in Harrisburg] just opened on June 14th and then we took over Honey Bee in Brandon March 1st and then we have a community daycare in De Smet,” Irvin said.

While there are plenty of kids ready to fill their new buildings, Irvin says capacity is limited by the workforce shortage.

“It is hard to get staff in the door,” Irvin said. “Everyplace is hiring right now.”

Early Explorers in Harrisburg hopes to serve 128 kids right next to the new Signature housing development now underway along Cliff Avenue in Harrisburg, as long as the new daycare center is able to find enough people to take on this important job.

“Its just rewarding and when you come in and you see those kids running up to you calling your name, they really turn into family,” Irvin said.

Early Explorers is still accepting new student registrations at the new Harrisburg facility and is hiring at all five of their daycare locations. Irvin says she is also in the process of expanding Tiny Titans daycare, hoping to provide more after school care in the Tea community.

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