Sturgis, SD 9/14/2016 – Sturgis Economic Development director Pat Kurtenbach displays a wide grin whenever she talks about the community’s multitude of new child care options.
She smiles because while this growing city now has three new options for parents, that wasn’t always the case, and she worried that a lack of child care options could hinder the community’s growth and development.
When the town’s Early Childhood Development Center closed in 2013, it made it difficult to sell the community to prospective day care businesses, Kurtenbach said.
When there are more day care options available, parents are more apt to be employed, and the community is more likely to attract new residents, Kurtenbach said.
“We’ve had people underemployed or not employed at all because they were held back because of the lack of day-care choices,” she said.
Kurtenbach said the new child care services help support the amazing residential growth in Sturgis. “They also address the needs of our area’s largest employers for more affordable, dependable day care services with extended hours,” she said.
Residents now have a choice of three state-licensed day care centers in the Sturgis area.
When Meade School District students returned to school on Aug. 29, all three new centers were open.
Discovery Kids University and Better Building Blocks Daycare opened Aug. 29, and First Step Child Care Center & Pre-School at Fort Meade opened in late July.
Kayla Klein is director of the Northern Hills Alliance for Children, which took over the Fort Meade Center earlier this year after it closed at the end of May.
“When our organization first was created seven years ago they had this vision of wanting to serve the Northern Hills,” Klein said. “They didn’t want it to be just Lead-Deadwood.”
A survey done then showed a high need for early childhood education and child care, she said.
“To be able to expand our mission into Sturgis and Fort Meade is very exciting,” Klein said.
Taken together, the three facilities employ 33 people and are able to serve 272 children, ages 6 weeks and up. They provide a variety of services including pre-school, day care, after-school programs, extended hours and school busing.
Alyssa Smith, who works at Sturgis Regional Hospital, brought her daughter, Kaelynn, to Better Building Blocks child care center after seeing information about it on Facebook.
Kurtenbach says it’s great that parents have options for child care now.
“Competition is good,” she said. “It’s important for parents to have choices. Each of them may offer a little different programming. It’s important to be able to chose a program that fits their children and their business lifestyle.”
Discovery Kids University and Better Building Blocks stepped up when the city and the economic development corporation were searching for someone to start a licensed child care center.
“This came down to private enterprise at its best. It wasn’t started by the state or the city, it’s individuals who have taken a leap of faith to do this for the community,” she said.
Shannah Grenz-Williams, owner of Discovery Kids University, said she hopes investing in the community’s children will pay dividends for years to come.
“We know Sturgis is known for the motorcycle rally, but we hope that it also will be known as an incredible place to raise a family because of how much the community has invested in its children,” she said.