Kelsey and Travis Buttke own and operate Backyard Bulldogs Child Care in Milbank. The Buttkes purchased the former KC Hall on Highway 15 and opened in March 2016, “We started with about six children,” Kelsey said. “ We now have 17 children enrolled and serve 10-13 on any given day. The biggest need in the Milbank community is for infant care. The ratios are complicated, and we have to follow the rules and regulations of the state, so we can only take a few babies at one time. But according to the fire codes, we can grow to 60 children.”
The Buttkes operated the daycare for about a year before officially expanding their project. “We sent out a survey about six months ago and asked for suggestions about different things, including a name for our daycare,” Kelsey said. “The Ryan and Kiana Conrad family suggested Backyard Bulldogs, and that stuck in Travis’ mind. I really liked the community feel of that name. So, that was it!
The business is officially licensed with the state of South Dakota as a group family home,” Kelsey said. “Our goal is to grow and re-license next year as a daycare center with over 21 children enrolled.”
Daria (Halajian) Liebe was hired as the full-time program coordinator. She obtained her human development degree from North Dakota State University. Kelsey said she and Daria clicked instantly. “We have the same thoughts and ideas, so it’s a great fit.” They have the same college degrees, but Kelsey graduated from South Dakota State University. “Daria also wanted to start a home daycare after she graduated,” Kelsey said, “but she and her husband, Alex, moved to Alex’s family farm and a daycare wasn’t feasible there.” MyKayla Thyne was hired as the summer assistant until she attends college in the fall.
“We all focus on giving the children a good mix of structured activities and free time, because both are equally important at this age,” Kelsey said. The daycare is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.