SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After more than 100 years in the childcare business, Volunteers of America will be closing its daycare center at the end of this year. It’s the latest childcare closure in a year filled with severe staffing challenges in the industry.
“I think we’re all aware of the need for childcare, but those after school programs are equally as important,” Volunteers of America Dakotas Director of Strategic Initiatives Sarah Hanson said.
Volunteers of America Dakotas currently provides daycare for 70 kids in central Sioux Falls and has a unique after school care program for 100 students.
“Picking kids up after school, then in the youth center we’re bringing those home after supper, anywhere between 7 and 8 o’clock,” Hanson said.
It’s a service specifically designed for nurses, Smithfield workers and other parents who don’t work a typical eight to five job.
“There is a waitlist to get into the program,” Hanson said.
There’s a huge demand for the late-night after school program, but right now the VOA is limiting capacity due to staffing shortages.
“If we were fully staffed we could be at about 140 probably, so we definitely do need more staff and are looking for more staff,” Hanson said.
The VOA’s downtown Sioux Falls daycare center has also been operating at limited capacity most of the year.
“Our staffing issues have created a challenge for us where we have not been able to enroll the maximum number of youth in our childcare program,” VOA Dakotas Director of Marketing Becky Deelstra said. “When you have space that’s not full, that creates some inefficiencies.”
It’s why the VOA has decided to close its daycare center by the end of the year. However, all of its staff and all 70 families can transition to the Girls and Boys Club, helping to benefit both nonprofit organizations and maintain a critical service for working families.
“This is really causing a workforce development issue, when you have employees that can’t find daycare, they can’t show up for work. That is impacting other businesses in the community, rather than having two organizations that were really struggling, this will impact the girls and boys club programming by allowing them to use their space fully,” Deelstra said.
The VOA’s after school care will continue as usual, and if they can increase their staff for that program, they hope to serve more kids. Right now there are no set plans for what will happen to the building currently used for the VOA childcare center.