Children’s Inn plans big move supported by major donation

May 21, 2020

The Children’s Home Society plans to buy property on the east side of Sioux Falls for a needed expansion of the Children’s Inn.

The center for at-risk women and children is out of space in its location at 409 N. Western Ave.

Children’s Inn provides emergency shelter and services at no cost for victims of domestic violence. Services also are available to children who are victims of abuse or neglect.

Children’s Inn is a program of Children’s Home Society. The nonprofit plans to buy 3.5 acres from the Sioux Falls Ministry Center, which is developing the Empower Campus between Eighth and 10th streets.

“As the Sioux Falls area continues to grow, so has the need for the services Children’s Inn provides. Over the past several years, we have seen an increase in the number of domestic violence victims coming to Children’s Inn for emergency shelter services,” operations director Amy Carter said in a statement. “We are committed to providing the safety, resources and support victims deserve in their time of crisis. This expansion project allows us to continue to make this possible.”

The current location has 40 beds and exceeds capacity 283 nights per year.

The expansion was made possible with a $11 million leadership gift from philanthropist Denny Sanford in January 2019.

“With a larger facility, our operating expenses will increase significantly, thus we are in the planning phase of an endowment campaign to provide long-term sustainability for Children’s Inn along with all Children’s Home Society programs,” said Michelle Lavallee, CEO of Children’s Home Society.

“And we are thrilled to announce that just yesterday, Mr. Sanford committed an additional $5 million for initial operating funding of Children’s Inn while we work toward a larger fundraising goal. Especially during these challenging times, we so appreciate his belief in our mission and his recognition of the importance of the services we provide.”

The two-story building will double the Children’s Inn capacity to 80 beds with dining space, common areas, playrooms and offices.

“I am delighted to support this project in an even bigger way,” Sanford said in a statement. “I firmly believe in the mission and staff of Children’s Home Society and Children’s Inn. I hope others will join me in funding this critical community need.”

Because of COVID-19, the timeline for the building is unknown. Before the pandemic, it was expected to be a three-year project, but the organization anticipates that will be extended because of the impact on fundraising.

Before the land purchase is finalized, neighborhood information meetings and public hearings will be held with the City Planning Commission. A public hearing, via Zoom, has been scheduled for 7 p.m. May 27. Learn more at

The Empower Campus will house 10 organizations that are focused on serving struggling families in Sioux Falls. It’s being developed on property that used to be the South Dakota School for the Deaf campus.

“The Empower Campus is focused on bringing organizations together to coordinate and collaborate to help break the cycle of poverty in our community,” said Rich Merkouris, chair of the board of directors for Empower Sioux Falls.

“We are thankful for the important work that Children’s Inn does for our community. We believe they are the perfect neighbor for the campus that is being created.”

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Children’s Inn plans big move supported by major donation

The Children’s Home Society plans to buy property along East Tenth Street for a needed expansion of the Children’s Inn.

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