Hartford Facing Daycare Shortage, Current Facilities at Maximum Capacity

HARTFORD, S.D.- The city of Sioux Falls and its surrounding communities are expanding at a rapid pace. Along with expansion, often comes growing pains.

The community of Hartford is currently experiencing a side effect of their rapid growth in the form of a shortage of day care facilities.

“Right now, I’m full though may of 2019,” said Ashli O’Kane, director of Christ Lutheran Church Daycare in Hartford.

When Ashli O’Kane took over the daycare in 2010, there were only 35 children to look after. The facility is now at maximum capacity with 75 kids enrolled.

“We just slowly took more and more kids, we’ve never had to advertise that we needed children,” O’Kane said.

Even though her facility is full, O’Kane still gets one to two calls a day asking about openings.

“I don’t even do a waiting list anymore, because I only move my kids once a year. So the chance of having an opening is very, very slim.”

O’Kane says she refers many parents to other daycares, but the other ten in town are in a similar situation.

“I’m to the point now where I say call the city because I know they have a list, 99 percent of them say, ‘We know, we’ve tried.”

The city is now taking action.

“What we hope to accomplish is having a provider either expand their services in town or someone from the outside coming in and starting anew daycare operation in Hartford,” said Jesse Fonkert, Hartford Chamber & Economic Development Director.

Hartford is issuing RFP’S, or Request For Proposals to help establish or expand daycares in town.

“So we see ourselves growing significantly within the next 3 to five years, so rather than being on the tail end of this, we want to be on the front, we want to be proactive about daycare because we know that our target market is with young families with both parents working. We know that if we don’t have daycare in town, those families might be moving elsewhere.”

Proposals are due to Hartford by March 1st. More information can be found here: http://www.hartfordsdchamber.org/daycare