Brookings to be state’s first “East River” community partner with Early Learner South Dakota

Brookings Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is pleased to announce its commitment to promote childhood learning and development through a new partnership with Early Learner South Dakota (ELSD).

ELSD is a community-driven grass roots effort bringing awareness and support to the importance of how access to a variety of early learning environments positively impacts the future of the state’s communities. During the first five years of life, a child’s brain grows faster than it ever will. By creating early learning environments through child care, ELSD and it’s community partners are supporting the K-12 school systems and, in the long term, helping to build a highly educated workforce pipeline.

In 2020, BEDC conducted a child care survey to assess the needs of Brookings parents. When individuals were asked to indicate areas that their current care could be improved, 52% implied they would like to see more educational/ learning opportunities offered to their children. By partnering with ELSD, BEDC is showing it’s commitment to improving the access and quality of early learning experiences and environments.

Child care has been identified as a significant challenge within the community. BEDC has created a task force of local individuals to address child care needs and potential opportunities. The task force hopes the focus on early learning will provide the following outcomes for the Brookings region:

  • Increase the accessibility to affordable, high quality learning environments for parents.
  • Create awareness around the importance of early learning and its impact on the community and its residents.
  • Provide children the tools needed to achieve success as future members of the workforce.

The goals and commitments that have been established by ELSD benefit not only the children and their families but the entire community. “Research shows that the return on investment for quality early learning is somewhere between $4 and $13 for every dollar invested in a young child,” stated Sarah Hauge, BEDC’s Director of Workforce Development. “In addition to helping create healthy and thriving communities, these programs strive to ensure that all children have access to quality early learning experiences to create a solid foundation for lifelong success.”

For more information regarding the Early Learner South Dakota initiative, please visit or contact Hauge at or by calling (605) 697-8103. Child care is just one of the many workforce development programs and initiatives being addressed by BEDC through it’s mission to grow the area’s workforce by establishing retention and recruitment programs and providing tools and resources to employers. Visit to learn more.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email