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Reviewing PASQ’s Successful Work for PorchLight on Childcare Needs Assessments

By Berk Ehrmantraut

Across the state, South Dakota is facing a childcare crisis. When the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) in 2023 announced three million dollars in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for community-based childcare solutions, rural communities jumped at the opportunity. 

Highmore, SD (pop. 653) and Salem, SD (pop. 1,328) needed assistance and expertise to complete the planning portion of their grant and brought in PorchLight for help on the project.

Working on an accelerated timeline, PorchLight CEO Jessica Meyers contracted PASQ Consultant Berk Ehrmantraut to jump into action. Grant awardees were announced the week of Thanksgiving, and Jessica and Berk immediately got to work evaluating the needs of each community and driving alignment on deliverables and end product.

Highmore’s needs were straightforward. The steering committee had a clear vision and needed assistance gathering community input via a survey - a specialty of PASQ and PorchLight. Jessica got to work writing the survey, and Berk got to work writing a plan to get the survey in front of as many community members as possible. 

In Highmore, Jessica worked closely with the project steering committee to keep them engaged, because we know from experience that involvement from partners in the community is essential for the success of community engagement efforts. 

Those efforts paid off, with 117 responses (a 17% response rate from the whole population), providing community leaders with crucial information, including that 93% of respondents believed Highmore needed a childcare center, plus data to help set pricing and feedback from the community on additional uses for the space. 

Berk analyzed the data and compiled the information in a beautiful and practical report, which provided Highmore leaders with the hard data they needed to apply for an implementation grant.

In Salem, Jessica and Berk got to further flex their community input muscles and dive deep into the community’s childcare needs. Their outreach efforts included a community input survey, stakeholder interviews with childcare providers in town, and a valuable input session with the passionate and engaged parents of Cougar Connections, the local PTA group. 

Based on community input and the needs of the Salem steering committee, Berk drafted a detailed but readable report summarizing the qualitative and quantitative data collected, analyzing that data, and providing recommendations on daytime childcare, an afterschool program, transportation needs, and summer care, developed in collaboration with Jessica. 

Throughout the process with Salem, Jessica and Berk were a consistent presence in the community, communicating results and key takeaways at a Chamber of Commerce event, the Economic Development Organization annual meeting, and a dedicated community presentation for anyone interested in the results (which turned out to be a lot of people). Alongside these public presentations, Berk maintained consistent communication with the project steering committee through actionable and informative biweekly email updates.

The report provided the McCook Central School District with the confidence to move forward on establishing an afterschool program for the fall and equipped leadership in Salem to apply for a GOED implementation grant.

PASQ and PorchLight collaborated to deliver high-quality results for Highmore and Salem, including being one of the only service providers in the state to conclude their efforts in time for their communities to use planning grant data in their implementation grant application. Berk and Jessica jumped full-force into the project the week of Thanksgiving, and had final reports to Highmore and Salem by mid-February, giving both communities time to complete their applications by the March 1, 2024 deadline. 

PASQ is committed to delivering results to help rural communities thrive. 

Are you interested in utilizing PASQ’s services? Contact us here.

The PASQ and PorchLight logos.


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