Rapid City advocates and mayor to promote early learning in Pierre

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A statewide initiative has Rapid City's mayor and local advocates headed to Pierre to discuss the importance of early learning.

South Dakota flags wave outside City Hall in Rapid City.

With future plans focused on giving South Dakota children access to high-quality learning experiences and environments, Mayor Steve Allender and local advocates will be hosting "early learner day" at the Capitol.

Early learning can take place in the home, classroom, and on the playground with research showing the first three years being critical to shaping children's brain development.

This pilot program launched in Rapid City last year with Lead-Deadwood joining in recently.

The Director of Black Hills Reads said early learning is a wise investment for any community's well-being.

"Children who do not have the opportunity to have quality early learning experiences are more likely to drop out of high school, and when a child drops out of high school, they're about eight times more likely to be incarcerated and an incarcerated individual can cost us up to $94,000 a year, that is a huge burden on the taxpayers of a community too," said Kayla Klein, director of Black Hills Reads.

With plans to meet with Governor Kristi Noem February 6 about their work, Klein hopes they will be able to collaborate more in the future.