Childcare is another major challenge for South Dakota’s workforce, as many parents would gladly rejoin the workforce if they could find available childcare options for their kids. Governor Noem is tackling this issue head on.
Governor Noem included $100 million in funding for childcare programs across the state of South Dakota this year. This money has gone to facilities that are licensed with the state Department of Social Services (DSS). It has helped cover operational costs, hire additional workers, and encourage expansion of these facilities. The initial round of $35 million in childcare grants went to 676 child care providers across the state at the beginning of the year. Over the summer, an additional $25M was provided for these expenses.
For the remaining $38M, Governor Noem launched a statewide listening tour inviting child care providers, child advocacy organizations, parents, and communities to weigh in on how best to use these funds. These funds could go toward start-up costs for new facilities, assisting businesses with developing on-site childcare programs, workforce recruitment studies, and more. DSS will develop a plan for these funds based on input from these listening sessions.
But this issue will not be solved with money alone. Governor Noem is aware of concerns regarding the state’s childcare licensing system, and she has tasked DSS with streamlining the process for a facility to become licensed. Once a facility has gone through this process, they will be eligible for federal grant dollars as well. DSS is also looking at ways to cut red tape and loosen restrictions wherever possible while still ensuring all children are safe and taken care of.
By expanding access to childcare across the state, Governor Noem’s vision is that more South Dakotans will be able to find quality providers in their communities -- which will give them the option of rejoining the workforce. There is more work to do on this issue, and Governor Noem is looking forward to taking on this challenge in her second term.