Emergency child care funding expires this month

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:20 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Nearly $24 billion dollars for child care was distributed to help stabilize states’ economies during the pandemic.

While that money has already been spent in daycares to pay for workers’ wages, rent, mortgages, and utilities, daycare professionals say they are hopeful for another round of funds.

“Every Child is Special” co-owner, Ryan Zens says they started up during the pandemic with the funds and they were depleted within the first six months.

“Our funds have been expended, and I think a second wave of funds would be beneficial for child care centers across the state just for them to get another boost as far as in the staffing area. They would probably use those funds for mortgage and lease and those types of things as well,” Zens said.

According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, South Dakota’s labor force increased compared to last year’s numbers, and employment grew by 1.9 percent.

The numbers say there are jobs available in South Dakota, but childcare staff is dwindling in numbers because the funds just aren’t there.

“The cost of goods that are coming into the facilities, toys, tables, equipment, has all gone up... If that stuff goes up and then we try and raise the rate just a bit, it’s hard for us to pay the teachers well because we just pay off of that one fee,” Zens said.

220,000 childcare programs benefited from these types of grants according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to South Dakota Kids Count, mothers of young children in South Dakota are 23 percent less likely to be in the workforce having a child younger than five, compared to just four percent with fathers.