August 2017 Updates

It’s true: you get what you pay for. Especially when it comes to hiring and retaining the best of the best to teach, train, and nurture Compassion Child Care’s kids. “We decided from the beginning that if we were going to do this, we were going to do it well,” says Rich Merkouris, chairman of CCC’s board of directors. “We owed it to our donors and the families we serve. CCC’s board soon zeroed in on the staff. As the heart of CCC’s ministry, they knew that the quality of its teachers was going to be integral to achieving their mission.
However, they’d seen the data and read the studies: daycare workers are notoriously underpaid and under-educated, resulting in high turnover within the industry— about 30% compared to a national average of just over 3% among all other sectors of business combined. Given the hard places that some of CCC’s families come from, the high turnover rate was especially concerning. “Stability is key, and we can’t provide it to our families if there’s a new teacher in their class every other month,”explains Merkouris. “It just adds to the chaos and uncertainty they’re already struggling with. We want kids to be able to relax and learn while they’re here, and a big part of that is being able to build lasting relationships with their teachers.” And that’s happening at CCC. Merkouris credits the generosity of CCC’s donors for the daycare’s success at bucking the national turnover rate. “Those dollars allowed us to invest in our people,” he says Hoping to attract more skilled educators, the CCC board set its starting hourly wage for full-time staff noticeably higher than the average amount offered by comparable daycares in Sioux Falls. It was a bold move, claiming 85 percent of CCC’s annual operating budget. It didn’t work at first. “It took a while for word to spread that CCC offered a more competitive starting wage,” Merkouris explains. “But as our reputation grew, so did the quality of applicants we were able to attract.” With the right people on board, retention became leadership’s next target. As history and numbers bear out, keeping an employee is farmore cost effective than hiring and training a new one. With that in mind, CCC put a premium on developing its staff, earmarking funds to cover the cost of child development courses through Sanford Child Services. “An attractive hourly wage can only get us so far,” says Merkouris. “Supporting and equipping our teachers to do their jobs more effectively helps avoid burnout and keeps our teachers on board here. It’s money very well spent.” Well spent indeed. However, Merkouris acknowledges that ultimately it’s the Lord who has provided such a top-notch staff.
“He’s given us people — missionaries really — who are more qualified and more dedicated to our families than we could have ever imagined. We’re proud of them and the work that they do.”

July 2017 Updates

Assumptions are sometimes wrong. Nobody has learned that like CCC’s Director Marty Merriman, who, after five years at the daycare’s helm, now makes a habit out of thinking twice before she assumes anything. “So much of what you and I naturally do in our daily lives is new, life-changing information to families that are struggling, but so often I assume that they’ve had the benefit of learning the things my parents, teachers, and church community have taught me along the way,” explains Merriman. “There’s a whole world of shared knowledge that our CCC families don’t even know they need in order to make wise decisions.” That’s especially true where finances are concerned. Equal parts support for families and a contingency of receiving scholarship dollars, the ministry requires each family enrolled at the daycare to attend three resource classes. The first class centers on budgeting and financial management. The second class zeros in healthy insurance and understanding the basics. Once families have attended these two classes they have a variety of other classes they can choose to attend ranging in topics of parenting, car shopping, etc.

May 2017 Updates

No one ardently welcomes the arrival of warmer temperatures like those who spend their days inside a daycare. Months of cooped-up indoor activities impose a hibernation of sorts for staff and students alike, all of whom eagerly anticipate the spring thaw. “It’s tough being confined indoors so much,” says CCC’s Assistant Director Alane Todd. “We just don’t have as many options during the winter months.” However, when the hats and mittens do finally take their turn in hibernation, CCC’s staff is poised to make the most of the summer months, adding a variety of weekly community experiences to the kids’ educational goals. From wading pools to The Outdoor Campus to the children’s theater at McKennan Park, CCC’s preschool students reap th benefits of an impressive cross-section of the finest recreational and enrichment opportunities that Sioux Falls has to offer. They even take in downtown’s SculptureWalk, complete with a stop at The Cookie Jar. “We make those short summer months count!” says Todd, who is responsible for planning and coordinating each outing. A plethora of summer outings gives a welcome boost to the hands-on aspects of CCC’s preschool curriculum. Kids and staff booth look forward to getting out into their community. One of the summer’s most educational experiences is also the simplest. Director Marty Merriman and husband Larry own a home just a few blocks from
CCC, and they set aside space in their yard for the preschool classes to plant a garden. The kids visit the Merriman backyard weekly to care for — and eventually begin harvesting — their produce. “It’s been such a great hands-on lesson,” says Merriman. “And not just in terms of education and life skills, but also for our Bible lessons as we thank God for His provision and wisdom in creating and growing these plants.” While Todd strives to keep costs minimal
by taking advantage of as many free resources as possible, there are some outings such as the zoo and Canaries baseball games that do require CCC to cover admission fees. The board and staff of CCC consider it money well-spent. “We could strictly schedule only free outings,
but the kids are constantly gushing about how great their day was when we go somewhere
really special,” explains Todd. “The families we serve don’t tend to experience many of the amenities of this community so the opportunity to visit places that would normally be out of the question for our kids is a neat gift to give.” Providing those great days requires more than
just funding. The daycare’s staff has to recruit additional volunteers — all of whom must
undergo a brief screening — to accompany the kids and staff, a measure meant to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment. “We feel more comfortable with a 1:3 adult to child ratio when we’re outside of the daycare walls,” says Todd.

August 2016 Updates

Preschool Graduation
This year Compassion Child Care has 9 pre-schoolers graduating to kindergarten! This class is unique because it is the first class that started in the infant room and went all the way through to the preschool class. As a preschool graduation gift, Linwood Wesleyan donated a backpack for each future kindergartner!

2016 Golf Tournament
CCC held its first Benefit Golf Tournament on Tuesday, July 26 at Willow Run Golf Course. A generous sponsor covered the entire cost of the event including entrance fees, prizes, and food. Therefore, the total funds raised of $48,755 went directly towards funding the general operations of CCC. For 2016, Compassion Child Care’s total budget is 1.4 million and the support shown at the Golf Tournament was a wonderful boost to fundraising efforts. Stay tuned for the date of the 2017 CCC Golf Tournament!

USF Nursing Students
For the third year in a row, the University of Sioux Falls’ Nursing Department is partnering with Compassion Child Care and sending their nursing students to volunteer and complete their practicum hours at the daycare. This has been a great partnership for Compassion Child Care and we look forward to the new faces each fall!

July 2016 Updates

Vacation Bible School by Abiding Savior
This month, Abiding Savior Lutheran Church brought vacation bible school to the preschool classes at Compassion Child Care! David Schroeder, Elementary Education Director at Abiding Savior, tailored the curriculum and logistics specifically for Compassion Child Care. The theme was “Submerged” and focused on diving into the truths of knowing Jesus as your personal Savior. Volunteers from Abiding Savior joined the kids throughout the week to help out in each class.

Resource Classes
Compassion Child Care will be requiring all families at Compassion Child Care to attend Resource Classes again this fall! Based on our feedback from families, we will be addressing the topics of Health Care (how to handle bills, what to ask for when you go to the doctor, insurance, etc.), Budgeting, and Parenting. If you have read the book “Grace-based Parenting” and would be interested in sharing your experience and thoughts with our families, please reach out to Danielle Muska at or 605.271.6907. If you are interested in sharing about any of the other topics mentioned above, please let Danielle know! The classes will be offered on Tuesday and Thursday nights as well as Saturday mornings this upcoming fall.

Volunteer Bible Reader
Compassion Child Care is looking for a volunteer or two to come and read the Bible to each class at the daycare for an hour or two a week between 9am-11am. The volunteer would spend 10 minutes reading to each class (infants, mobile infants, toddlers, preschool). If you are interested, please reach out to Danielle Muska at or 605.271.6907