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FiredUp: Finding childcare in rural places can be a challenge

FiredUp: Finding childcare in rural places can be a challenge

Parents in Veblen address need for daycare in their community

By Karie Geyer

While the problem of finding work in rural places gets a lot of publicity, one problem that may follow if you are able to find work doesn’t get as much notice: Daycare is not always easy to find in rural places.

My own experience growing up in Veblen didn’t prepare me for this problem when I moved back to my hometown with my husband and 2-year-old daughter.

When I was little, both my parents worked full time, but my dad farmed, so most of the time I just tagged along with him. When he was busy, or if it wasn’t safe for me to be around, my grandma babysat me. She worked from home, where she had a beauty shop. When grandma was busy, both my younger sister and I would attend a local residential daycare.

Fast forward to today. My husband and I have careers. Both my parents are working full time and, although they would love to, are not able to watch my daughter during the week. Fellow parents with young children in the Veblen area are either experiencing the same or do not have accessible family and friends (nannies) who are able to help with childcare. In general, the baby boomer grandparents of today, in rural places as elsewhere, are busy or not retiring, so parents with young kids have to consider different childcare options.

After accessing the need, the community of Veblen is working to establish a new daycare. A group of parents has spent hours identifying resources and exploring options. Information collected throughout the research process has many parents and community members convinced that if not addressed, Veblen’s “daycare situation” will limit potential growth and push the issue onto neighboring communities whose daycares are already full. But, this situation can also be viewed as an opportunity, as having a quality daycare in town can encourage community development.

Planning, implementing, and sustaining quality childcare in any size of community is no easy task, but rural areas in particular  struggle with daycare because of the difficulties in finding an appropriate location and qualified staff, as well as dealing with limited funds.

If your community is looking at either establishing a daycare, your first step is to identify whether there is actually a need. There may not be enough of a need to start a daycare in your community—for example, some people who use daycares in other towns may find that convenient because they also work there; but, others would prefer to have childcare closer to home if it was available.

If you find there is a need in your community, put together a support group (the more brains the better) and start gathering information. Education is necessary in coming up with a solution to any issue. Make sure you communicate with city government; they are a resource, too and should be kept in the loop. At left is a list of resources that community members of Veblen have utilized as sources of information.

This is where we are in Veblen so far—a group of parents is researching options for providing childcare in our community. Stay tuned to Dakotafire for an update on Veblen’s daycare situation.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for the community of Veblen, or if you have struggled with or solved this problem in your own community, please share by commenting below.


Karie Geyer, owner of Creative Consulting, LLC, lives in Veblen, S.D., and is a freelance writer for Dakotafire. Karie is an advocate for rural community development.

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