SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — More than 600 child care providers in South Dakota have received federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Laurie Gill, Cabinet Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Social Services, said 603 child care programs received ARPA “child care stabilization grants” in the beginning of February. The funding became tied up when lawmakers with the Joint Appropriations Committee believed the federal money needed to go through the legislative process and couldn’t be sent out with only the Governor’s approval. Lawmakers also expressed concerns on how the money would be used.
All the money is being tracked on the state’s transparency website open.sd.gov. So far, DSS has sent out $32.4 million from a possible $100 million which was announced in Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R-S.D.) December budget address.
Noem said DSS would be in charge of overseeing the $100 million from ARPA and DSS started taking applications shortly after.
“The department is in the final stages of reviewing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Child Care grant applications that were submitted between January 14 and February 25,” Gill said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “After payments are made to the new applicants, the Department will review the available funding and determine if additional funds can be awarded.”
DSS says state-registered and licensed child care providers have until the end of 2022 to spend the funds, which can be used for operating expenses and personnel costs.
According to DSS, the state has 789 registered child care providers in varying sizes.
The number of unregistered and unlicensed child care providers in South Dakota is not known but past studies have suggested there’s more than 2,000 unregistered child care providers in the state.
Unregulated child care providers can be unregistered and care for up to 12 children and there’s not standards required to be met by the providers.
Experts in the child care industry have said the $100 million in one-time federal aid would not help solve long-term issues hampering the industry. One child care lobbyist said the only way child care providers can make profits is by caring for 3-5-year–olds only because you can have a higher ratio per employee.
In February, a local teacher shared with KELOLAND News that at one point, her family was spending 90 percent of her paycheck on childcare for their four kids.
A local business owner told KELOLAND News the price for child care for two newborns would be $500 a week.