Church and staff prepare to welcome Kingdom Kids

St. Olaf child care center nears opening day

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Cargill has donated $70,000 toward the establishment of the Kingdom Kids of St. Olaf day care center. The check was presented Sunday afternoon during an open house at the center inside St. Olaf Lutheran Church, 239 N. 11th St. From left are Jacob Asche, from Cargill; Caitlin Truscheff, from Cargill; the Rev. Emily Sauer-Alvarez, pastor of St. Olaf; Kathy Dencklau, director of the day care center; Darcy Nemmers from Cargill; Sydney Pokorny, Cargill Fort Dodge Biotechnology Campus facility manager; and Kim Peimann from St. Olaf.

Tables and chairs sized just right for small children are set up in the classrooms, while out in the halls, wooden cubby holes await little jackets and hats.

Kingdom Kids of St. Olaf is all set, and if the next round of inspections goes well, it will welcome its first youngsters at the end of this month.

The progress on the newest child care facility in Fort Dodge was celebrated during an open house Sunday afternoon at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, 239 N. 11th St.

During that open house, representatives of Cargill, which has a plant west of Fort Dodge, presented a $70,000 donation.

That donation is part of the $2,542,457 raised so far for the center. The goal of the capital campaign is $3 million.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
-Messenger photo by Bill Shea Kathy Dencklau, the director of the Kingdom Kids of St. Olaf child care center, checks some of the items waiting for students in one of the classrooms. She will lead a staff of 16 people who will serve about 130 students.

Child care is “such a huge need in our community,” said Kathy Dencklau, the director of Kingdom Kids of St.Olaf.

The church’s effort to meet that need began in 2021.

St. Olaf Lutheran Church has a foundation, and it has been receiving requests for money to start child care centers, according to the Rev. Emily Sauer-Alvarez, the church’s pastor.

“We started thinking, we have a lot of space that isn’t used during the week, what if we did a day care center?” she said.

That space she referred to is in the south end of the church, in what used to be Sunday School classrooms.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Visitors check out one of the classrooms Sunday afternoon at the Kingdom Kids day care center at St. Olaf Lutheran Church. The center may open at the end of this month.

In the fall of 2021, the congregation voted to move forward with a day care center.

Church representatives then started meeting with the state Department of Health and Human Services to learn about the requirements for a day care center.

In January 2022, a $687,000 state grant was received. The fundraising campaign started that fall.

Dencklau was hired as the director in January 2023. She has 25 years of experience providing in-home child care and was the first director of the Community Christian School child care center.

She began what she called the “long, tedious process” of writing all the policies, procedures and curriculums needed for a child care facility.

While she was doing that, renovations got started in the building. Much of that work focused on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

“A lot of money was spent on infrastructure that you don’t get to see,” Dencklau said.

New security systems, including cameras in every classroom, were also installed.

The renovations started in July 2023.

The center will be initially licensed for 130 children, with the possibility of eventually going to 190 children.

Those children will range in age from 6 weeks old to 12 years old.

The center will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Before school and after school programs will be offered. There will be a chapel service on Wednesdays for the children.

Kingdom Kids of St. Olaf will initially have a staff of 16 people, including Dencklau, 13 teachers, and two kitchen workers.


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