The South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development has announced an award of $19,800 to the Freeman community in the form of a Child Care Planning grant. The proposal was approved for the full amount of $19,800 requested in October by the Freeman Community Development Corporation in collaboration with Freeman Academy, Freeman School District 33-1, Growing Dreams Learning Center and Little Blessings Daycare.
Funding received locally will be used for a feasibility study and consulting related to collaborative and innovative ways to address child care needs in our community. Freeman’s proposal outlined three areas to be explored for viability among the residents of both Hutchinson and Turner counties: 1) Facilitation of intergenerational experiences, 2) Facilitation of immersive language experiences, and 3) facilitation of career pathways.
“So many communities have reached out to us about the lack of child care. We wanted to help and this program has been a step in the right direction,” said GOED Commissioner Chris Schilken. “This was a competitive grant, and we had a lot of applicants. We are excited to announce the recipients for the planning phase.”
While noting the common perception of Freeman as a “wonderful community for aging in place,” the proposal submitted by Carol Eisenbeis, development and marketing coordinator, went on to note the value of a planning grant prior to the implementation of possible solutions in response to the need for child care. “Our local businesses and organizations have realized that the lack of access to adequate childcare is not an issue that solely impacts families with children; it is an economic issue that impacts our entire community’s ability to thrive. For that reason, they are wanting to be part of the solution. While some are considering ways to implement benefits to help families afford childcare and assist in providing adequate compensation for childcare providers, it’s important that, as a community, we are well-informed about existing gaps and the potential impact of practices we choose to implement. The availability of funding for a consultant to seek out information for that purpose would allow for community entities to more confidently and willingly contribute to the implementation of innovative practices supported by data.”
Strong letters of support to accompany the grant application on behalf of the Freeman community were provided by the following: Bethany Mennonite Church, Michael Walter; City of Freeman, Carol J. Eisenbeis & Michael Walter; CorTrust Bank, Charles Harberts; Freeman Academy & Little Blessing Daycare, Brad Anderson & Brain Paff; Freeman Community Foundation, Emily Hofer; Freeman Regional Health Services, Courtney Unruh; Freeman School District 33-1, Jake Tietje; Growing Dreams Learning Center, Hannah Guthrie & Cathy Herlyn; Merchants State Bank, Emily Hofer; Vermeer, Julie Oien.
A total of $1.13 million was made available through the GOED, with grants awarded to 28 of the applicants. GOED Partner Relations Director Joe Fiala explained that the number of applications that came in shows the true need of child care services. “Organizations across all corners of the state reached out to us during this entire process.”
In addition to the Freeman Community Development Corporation on behalf of Freeman, successful applicants were as follows:
Aberdeen – Aberdeen Development Corporation; Brookings – Boys and Girls Club of Brookings; Burke – Burke Business Promotion Corporation; Clear Lake – Clear Lake Area Development; Custer – Custer Area Economic Development Corporation; DeSmet – DeSmet Development Corporation; Flandreau – Boys and Girls Club of Moody County; Gayville – Gayville Volin School District; Highmore – City of Highmore; Madison – Lake Area Improvement Corporation; Milbank – Grant County Development Corporation; Miller – On Hand Development Corporation; Mission – Rosebud Economic Development Corporation; Mobridge – Mobridge Economic Development Corporation; Murdo – Murdo Economic Development Corporation; Pierre – Pierre Economic Development Corporation; Platte – Platte Development Corporation; Rapid City – Elevate Rapid City; Rapid City – Kindred Spirits LLC; Redfield – Grow Spink, Inc.; Salem – Salem Economic Development Corporation; Sioux Falls – Sioux Falls Development Foundation; Spearfish – Spearfish Economic Development Corporation; Tabor – Sacred Heart School; Vermillion – Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company; Watertown – Watertown Development Corporation; Yankton – Yankton Thrive.