April 12, 2024

Day care more than our mortgage, parent says

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As hundreds of families search for new day cares, Apple Tree’s owner says there’s still the possibility that all four Children’s Centers could stay open.

On Thursday, Dec. 14, Apple Tree told parents it would be closing in January. Over the weekend, a local businessman stepped forward to keep the west side location open. Tonight, the owner says other people have approached him about the other locations.

News that Apple Tree is preparing to close impacts hundreds of Sioux Falls families.

“I have three children, three girls. Our oldest is three and a set of twins that just turned two, the price of daycare is more than what we pay for our mortgage. If prices were to increase, we understand because we know we’re getting a great rate,” said Thomas Taylor, an Apple Tree parent.

Taylor says changing day cares could cost his family hundreds.

“We’ve shopped around more than eight different other centers and looked at in-home daycares as well as having a personal nanny,” said Taylor

As difficult as it’s been for families, it’s been equally upsetting for Randy Stewart, the owner of Apple Tree who’s been in the family business for decades.

“It’s just a lose lose deal all the way around. And, you know, we tried for a long time. We were doing pretty well pre-pandemic, the pandemic. We survived because of federal funds, PPP funding and so forth,” said Stewart. “It’s just it’s a tough situation. And I wish I had a better answer for parents because I feel their pain.”

Looking back he says Apple Tree’s mission was always to help children.

“The whole motivation from day one, 42 years ago was to take care of kids, to help families and take care of kids. And that’s never changed. It’s never wavered. Also what’s never changed is our desire to share it from our spiritual perspective,” said Stewart.

Since announcing the closure, Stewart says other businesses have approached him about taking over the centers.

“I don’t know how many people are truly capable, but as far as the desire to help and be part of the process, it’s been a much larger response than I would have expected,” said Stewart.

If one of those offers would come to fruition, there could be the potential to help hundreds of children.

Stewart said the person interested in potentially taking over would keep the Apple Tree name.
However, he says that if someone does, it will not be an easy task.

KELOLAND.com’s Jacob Newton talked with Stewart about the financial turmoil that led to Apple Tree having to close its doors and combed through financial reports provided by Apple Tree to get an understanding of how the losses piled up, and the impact that federal funding had on the budget over recent years.

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