Helping Children

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, 454 children received quality child care that includes early childhood education curriculum.


EmBe LogoEmBe’s Childcare program serves children ages 4 weeks to 5 years. Last year, an average of 347 children attended the centers daily.


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, 94 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 Canton, Harrisburg, McCook Central, Lennox, 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 provides additional pre-kindergarten slots to at-risk children through a collaboration of churches, businesses, and non-profits. The program served 150 students last year, of those 100% met school-readiness indicators upon completing preschool.


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.


United Childcare and Preschool LogoUnited Childcare and Preschool provides quality care for children ages 2-10. Last year, 134 children were provided care.



Volunteers of America Dakotas LogoVolunteers of America, Dakotas’ Childcare program provided 182 children with quality care last year.


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, 2,399 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, 132 families completed questionnaires.



Imagination Library LogoDolly Parton’s Imagination Library program provides free books to children in the mail until age 5. Over 10,700 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, 2,666 packets were distributed to new parents at birth, 186 new parents were visited in their homes by child development professionals, and 231 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 Eastside 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, 358 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 44 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, 687 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 98% of respondents would not have been able to participate in activities without Connecting Kids.


EmBe LogoEmBe’s Girls on the Run/Heart & Sole is a character development and empowerment program for girls in grades 3rd – 5th and 6th – 8th that uses non-competitive running and training to achieve the goal of participation in a 5K run/walk. Last year, 871 girls participated in Girls on the Run or Heart & Sole at 46 different schools in the Sioux Empire.

EmBe’s Let Me Run is a seven-week after school program whose mission is to inspire boys through the power of running, to be courageous enough to be themselves, to build healthy relationships, and to live an active lifestyle. Last year, 127 boys participated at 6 different schools.

EmBe’s Youth Recreation programming provides a variety of youth activities for children. Activities include: volleyball, babysitting camp, Camp CEO, Camp ChangeMaker, youth taekwondo, and First Lego league. Last year, 1,709 youth participated in a variety of programs.


Harmony LogoHarmony South Dakota is a free after-school music program that provides opportunities for children ages 7 and up to participate in string orchestra, percussion ensembles, musicianship classes, and private instrumental lessons. Last year, 78 participants spent 360 hours in instruction through the program.


Kidstop LogoKIDSTOP provides a free after school and summer recreation program for students in grades K-8. Last year an average of 38 children attended daily. 64% 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, 82 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 43 youth during out of school hours.


Multi Cultural Center LogoMulti-Cultural Center’s After School and Out of School Programs serves 443 students with after school and summer programming last year. Services provided include reading assistance, math help, karate, and programs to recognize different cultures.


YMCA LogoSioux Falls Family YMCA’s Middle School After School program provides a variety of activities to 521 students at five middle schools last year. Of those students, 90% 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.

Challenge Day LogoChallenge Day provides area middle and high school students with a one-day program that focuses on empathy skill building. Last year, Challenge Days happened in 13 different schools across the Sioux Empire. Full day programs were attended by 800 students and 1,884 students participated in a shorter assembly. Students completed surveys after the experience and 76% agreed with the statement, “I feel empowered to influence change in my school, community, and/or world.”


Character on Track LogoCharacter on Track provides an educational framework for teaching trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Last year, assemblies were held in 20 area school districts.


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, 60 youth participated in the program, with 100% showing an improvement in their grades and/or completing assignments on time.

Lutheran Social Services’ Climb 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, 150 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’ Every Day Heroes Mentor Program provides elementary and middle school students with positive adult role models at their schools. Last year, 1,378 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.

Lutheran Social Services’ USucceed program provides at-risk high school students with a long-term volunteer mentor to encourage and support high school graduation. Last year, 187 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.


Boy Scouts LogoSioux Council Boy Scouts’ Juvenile Diversion programs are alternatives to formal court proceedings. Last year, 669 teens participated in Teen Court or Community Accountability Boards. Combined, the teens completed 18,732 hours of community service.

Sioux Council Boy Scouts’ Scouting program benefits young people by emphasizing family, community, and character education. Last year 4,017 registered Scouts (ages 1 through 20) participated in 482,040 hours of programming and contributed 40,170 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, 892 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, 2,710 students and their families were served and 96% 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, 196 local youth were screened, with 26% 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.


EmBe logoEmBe’s Aquatics program offers swimming lessons, specialty classes, and open swim opportunities. Last year, 1,416 individuals took part in swimming lessons.


HorsePower logoHorsePower is a therapeutic horse program for individuals with special needs. Last year they provided 1,685 therapy sessions to 87 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. On average, 409 counseling sessions are provided each month 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.


Sioux Empire Smiles logoSioux Empire Smiles is a free one-day comprehensive dental clinic for children 18 and under. In the past, more than 156 patients were provided with dental screenings, fillings, extractions, cleanings, and other dental care. Many times, patients are identified as needing extensive treatment beyond the one-day clinic. Community partnerships provided these additional patients with the proper operating room setting needed to provide the dental care.


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, 99 children utilized services through the program.