Helping Children

Sioux Empire United Way invests in our community’s youth. We provide quality, early childhood education and ensure that school-age youth have a safe place to be when they’re not in school, but cannot be at home. Mental health care is a priority and available to students through their schools. Investing in children is investing in our community’s future. You can read more about the programs supporting children funded by Sioux Empire United Way below.

Quality Childcare and Early Childhood Education Opportunities for Children

Affordable, quality childcare is available through a variety of Sioux Empire United Way funded organizations. Early childhood education opportunities range from built in curriculum at childcare programs, as well as separate programming, scholarships for families, and additional assistance for pre-kindergarten youth.

Boys and Girls Clubs logoBoys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire’s Early Childhood Education program provides quality childcare and education programs for young children. Last year, 520 children received quality child care that includes early childhood education curriculum.



Inter-Lakes Community Action Partnership LogoInter-Lakes Community Action Partnership’s Sioux Falls Center provides high-quality early childhood development services to low-income and special needs children. Last year, 102 children were enrolled in the program while their parents either worked or attended school.


Ready to StartReady to Start provides a five-week program for children who may not have had access to pre-kindergarten services or who may have demonstrated a need for additional services prior to their first day of school. The program serves 225 children in Brandon, Canton, Harrisburg, Lennox, McCook Central, Sioux Falls, and Tea Area School Districts. Participants have an average gain of 35% in math skills, 25% in reading skills, and 22% in supportive skills.


Sioux Falls Hope Coalition LogoSioux Falls Hope Coalition focuses on narrowing the achievement gap in our community through a straightforward strategy: Ensuring that every child gets a chance to attend preschool and arrives at kindergarten prepared. Through preschool partnerships, the coalition seeks to connect 3, 4, and 5-year-old children to existing high-quality preschool programs regardless of their family's ability to pay private tuition. The program serves families at 185% of poverty level and below. Research shows that preschool is a major influence throughout a child's life. In school, it leads to better grades, higher reading aptitude, and higher graduation rates. A child's experiences in preschool influence decisions for decades. The program served 185 students last year, and of those, 100% met school-readiness indicators to move to the next level.


Sioux Falls School District LogoPreschool Opportunity Program, administered through Sioux Falls School District, provides a high-quality pre-kindergarten experience for 68 children whose families have socio-economic challenges last year. Longitudinal research from the High/Scope Research studies show that quality early childhood education has long-term benefits for children that include: fewer failing grades, higher graduation rates, decreased involvement in social services as adults, and higher monthly earnings as adults.






Support for New Parents

Parenting is the toughest job and Sioux Empire United Way provides a variety of resources and services to new parents, including our community's beloved free books for children through Dolly Parton's Imagination Library.

Avera LogoAvera McKennan’s Success by 6 Parenting with Success programming includes resource booklets and temperament programming. The resource booklets are provided to all mothers after birth and include parenting information and local resources. Last year, 2,262 booklets were distributed. Temperament programming utilizes a thorough questionnaire provided to parents when their child is 15 months of age. The results help parents understand the temperament of their child and how to parent based on that. Last year, 135 families completed questionnaires.



Imagination Library LogoDolly Parton’s Imagination Library program provides free books to children in the mail until age 5. Over 10,612 children receive books each month. One study reports children read to one hour per day enter school with a vocabulary 3 times larger than students only read to 30 hours during their first 5 years.



Sanford LogoSanford Children’s CHILD Services’ Success by 6 Watch Me Grow Help Me Grow programming includes parent resource material at birth, child and parent resources online, home visits, and temperament programming. Last year, 2,887 packets were distributed to new parents at birth, 141 new parents were visited in their homes by child development professionals, and 286 parents participated in temperament services.



Out of School Time Care and Opportunities

From providing a safe and educational environment during non-school hours, to opportunities to develop new skills and develop healthy habits, Sioux Empire United Way programs enrich the lives of school age youth.

Boys and Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire LogoBoys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire’s Empower Club supports youth and families by giving students a safe, supervised, engaging place to spend time. The program focuses on five core areas: the arts, education and career development, health and life skills, character and leadership skills, and sports and recreation. Last year, 207 students participated in the programming. An analysis of 68 afterschool studies concluded that high-quality afterschool programs can lead to improved attendance, behavior, and coursework. Students participating in a high-quality afterschool program went to school more often, behaved better, received better grades, and did better on tests compared to non-participating students.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire’s The Club provides a safe, engaging environment that helps middle school and high school youth to build healthy relationships and promotes academic success, character and leadership, career readiness, and healthy lifestyles. Last year, an average of 25 youth attended the program each day.


Connecting Kids LogoConnecting Kids creates the opportunity for children in grades K-8 to take part in an activity for a free or reduced rate. Last year, 600 used the Connecting Kids certificate. Children have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of sports, camps, classes, and fine art activities through 25 different partner organizations. A survey of parents found that 89% of respondents would not have been able to participate in activities without Connecting Kids.


Kidstop LogoKIDSTOP provides a free after school and summer recreation program for students in grades K-8. Last year an average of 54 children attended daily. 89% of participants reported an improvement in their attitude towards school.



LSS LogoLutheran Social Services’ After-School and Summer Programs emphasize hands-on activities to keep children engaged in learning outside of school hours. Last year, 87 children participated in afterschool and summer programs.

Lutheran Social Services’ Here4Youth provides out of school time care for youth with special needs and their siblings. The primary focus of the program is to provide opportunities for youth who need more attention and specialized help. Last year, they served 36 youth during out of school hours.

Sioux Falls School District LogoAccess for All, administered through Sioux Falls School District, provides scholarship opportunity to children from low to moderate-income households to attend after school and summer enrichment programs and receive academic support services through Sioux Falls School District's Kids Inc. program. The program will serve 1,750 students in the 22-23 school year.


YMCA LogoSioux Falls Family YMCA’s Middle School After School program provides a variety of activities to 516 students at five middle schools last year. Of those students, 91% report an improvement in their attitude towards school.


Youth Outreach and Development Opportunities

Providing youth opportunities to build better relationships, prepare for successful adulthood, and create positive interactions with the world around them.

Family Connection LogoChildren’s Connection, a program of Family Connection provides weekly support groups, family events, and more to children whose parent or close family member has been incarcerated. Last year, 295 students participated in the weekly groups at 10 local elementary and middle schools.


LSS LogoLutheran Social Services’ Arise Youth Center/East’s Evening Report Center is an alternative to juvenile detention for youth ages 10 to 17. It provides supervision and learning support during hours when youth may be more likely to be unsupervised at home and have more opportunities to get into further trouble. The program focuses on life skills, homework assistance, job readiness, and group community service. Last year, 71 youth participated in the program, with 70% decreasing their number of missing school assignments.

Lutheran Social Services’ Community Mentoring program provides youth who are at-risk for low achievement socially, emotionally, and economically with a mentor who is able to provide support, guidance, and friendship. Mentor relationships are developed through community-based activities. Last year, 206 mentor matches were made or maintained through the programs. Recent research shows that mentoring relationships support a youth’s growth and development in multiple areas simultaneously. This includes better development of morals and values, improved decision making, feeling empowered to succeed, and receiving encouragement to enter or finish college.

Lutheran Social Services’ High School Mentoring program provides at-risk high school students with a long-term volunteer mentor to encourage and support high school graduation. Last year, 141 mentors and students were matched. Of those, 97% of the students progressed to the next grade level. One study found that at-risk young people who had mentors were more likely to set goals for higher education and were more likely to attend college than non-mentored peers.

Lutheran Social Services’ In School Mentoring program provides elementary and middle school students with positive adult role models at their schools. Last year, 1,104 volunteer mentors served within 11 public school districts in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties. National research shows that strong relationships between mentors and students promote long-term positive outcomes that include achievement, a stronger sense of self-worth, improved relationships with parents, and decreased drug and alcohol use.


Boy Scouts LogoSioux Council Boy Scouts’ Juvenile Diversion programs are alternatives to formal court proceedings. Last year, 258 teens participated in Teen Court, completing 5,348 hours of community service. Youth also completed WhyTry, a truancy program for students with 10-17+ missed days of school. Participants work through a series of visual analogies that teach important life skills.

Sioux Council Boy Scouts’ Scouting program benefits young people by emphasizing family, community, and character education. Last year 3,330 registered Scouts (ages 1 through 20) participated in 339,660 hours of programming and contributed 23,100 hours in community service. Adults who were Scouts for five years are more likely than those who have never been Scouts to graduate high school, earn college degrees, and own their own homes.

Sioux Council Boy Scouts’ Scoutreach works to ensure that all low-income, culturally diverse, and hard-to-serve youth have the opportunity to experience Scouting. The program provides Scout leaders and facilitators for youth in traditional Cub Scout Packs. Last year, 858 youth participated in Scouting opportunities.


Sioux Falls School District LogoSioux Falls School District’s School Home Liaison and Refugee and Immigrant Academic Achievement Resources helps refugee and immigrant families understand the American educations system. Last year, 2,678 students and their families were served and 93% met or exceeded district average attendance rates.


Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Care for physical and mental health for youth.

Delta Dental logoDelta Dental of SD’s Mobile Dental Program provides oral health services to children who don’t have access to dental care. Last year, 205 local youth were screened, with 28% having their first dental visit. The Oral Health in America report established the link between dental disease and absenteeism and reduced learning in children as well as the link between dental disease and overall health and development.



HorsePower logoHorsePower is a therapeutic horse program for individuals with special needs. Last year they provided 1,662 therapy sessions to 110 participants.



LSS LogoLutheran Social Services’ PATH program partners with area school districts to meet the mental health needs of K-12 students in their schools. PATH eliminates barriers so that children and teens can get professional individual mental health counseling at school during the school day. 331 students were provided counseling sessions at more than 40 schools in Baltic, Brandon Valley, Canton, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Harrisburg, Sioux Falls, Tea Area, Tri-Valley, West Central School Districts, and Sioux Falls Catholic Schools.


One Smile Program provides extensive dental services to children under the age of eight from underserved and low-income families. Often times the care needed requires a hospital or surgical center under anesthesia. 17 children were provided care last year.


USD Scottish Rite logoThe USD Scottish Rite Children’s Clinic for Speech & Language Disorders provides a full array of clinical services related to speech, language and literacy. Last year, 523 children utilized services through the program.