DSS is working to connect licensed daycares with resources

There is a statewide shortage of daycare providers, and Codington County is certainly not immune to this reality.

Licensed daycares are the only providers eligible for Childcare Assistance, a government program that provides working parents with funding so they can afford to send their children to daycare while they go to work or school .

Because there are few licensed daycares in the county, the Department of Social Services has been actively seeking ways to reach out to providers to answer their questions and concerns about the licensing process and requirements. The Child and Family Resource Network is a South Dakota State University organization contracted by social services to reach communities across the state.

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Rachel Busmann and April Flemming of the Child and Family Resource Network sponsored an event Tuesday to meet with day care providers from the Watertown area to discuss licensing their business and the benefits it will bring.

“We don’t always have the answers to difficult problems, but we are here to help and provide resources,” said Busmann.

Child and Family is a 25 year old organization focused on creating safe environments for children across the state. It connects parents with classes, provides car seats for those in need, and more.

“All of our resources are geared towards supporting the child in a childcare facility or the family unit,” said Busmann.

When it comes to daycare, Child and Family can help providers connect with a range of classes, help them find and apply for grants, and assist them through the licensing process.

Your advantages as a licensed day care worker

Britney Luoma has been a licensed daycare center in Watertown for 10 years and spoke about the benefits of being a provider and the benefits of retaining a state license.

Some of the joys Luoma experienced as a preschool teacher was watching her children grow and learn at daycare. She has been in business for a decade and has helped families from their first child to their last.

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“As one of my first families, I had her first child when she was just two years old and her mother was pregnant with her second. That was my first daycare baby,” said Luoma.

Being a provider of special needs children comes with some challenges but their role in the industry is vital as they have the knowledge to care for these children.

“One of my kids in daycare had a feeding tube and I had to watch the kid overnight because I was the only one who knew how to feed him,” Luoma said.

Access to Grants for Licensed Day Care Centers

The benefits of a license far outweigh the paperwork and compliance requirements to remain so. Access to grant funding is one of the most powerful benefits for licensed daycare providers.

Various grants are available for licensed daycares, and Child and Family connects providers to these grants and helps them apply.

One such grant was provided by COVID-19 stimulus funds. The provider received the subsidy and gave the daycare families enough money to cover the costs of the daycare for a few weeks.

“The COVID grants have been amazing. My daycare centers were so grateful to them,” said Luoma.

Grants also give the provider the funds needed to provide children with a safe and fun environment, including play equipment such as playhouses and swings.

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There are also feeding programs that licensed daycares can benefit from, an essential financial tool when looking to feed up to 12 children on a budget.

“That was my number one goal when I started daycare, to make sure these kids had something to eat because I’m not always sure what these kids are eating at home,” Luoma said.

protect the community

Becoming a licensed provider provides the community with affordable day care options and ensures the provider is trained to prevent dangerous mistakes in their home.

Compliance is perhaps the biggest concern for vendors when it comes to licensing, but this is where Children and Family shines with their ability to help vendors navigate the compliance checks and provide access to the funds needed to house to make sure.

The courses, available for free or at minimal cost, are ways licensing protects the children of the community by offering classes on shaking trauma syndrome and learning providers how to manage mental health in this high-stress profession . These courses connect providers with resources and the means to protect themselves and their children in daycare.

“If you haven’t done it, you just don’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to be around screaming kids 12 hours a day,” Luoma said.

Not being licensed limits the ability to address concerns and compliance issues, Busmann said. This often means that issues are not investigated until they become situations of abuse and neglect.

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Licensing a daycare business is a decision, and there are certainly pros and cons.

“Day care centers can go through the inspection portion of the permitting process and then decline and choose not to make these changes to their home,” Busmann said.

The Department of Social Services seeks to identify each community’s permitting needs and to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.

For more information, call the Child and Family Resource Network at 605-688-5730 or visit www.sdstate.edu/cfrn.