Early Learner SD: proposed DSS childcare changes weaken children’s safety

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 10:06 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - South Dakota’s childcare crisis is nothing new. Providers struggle to pay their employees and keep their costs affordable for parents. In turn, providers are quitting, and parents can’t find childcare for their kids. To help turn the tide, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is proposing changes to its childcare regulations.

There are four changes the DSS is proposing that Early Learner South Dakota is opposing. The first allows in-home providers to care for 3 infants, up from 2. The second change lets in-home providers have 4 children under the age of 2, this is up from 2. The third and fourth, both involve childcare centers. DSS is proposing cutting training for providers in half, from 20 hours to 10 hours. Finally, DSS says providers only need to hear sleeping children, meaning there would be a requirement to check on napping kids every 15 minutes, not watching them the entire time.

“What DSS has stated in why they’re making these changes, is to help reduce the barriers for childcare providers. We do know the one thing for sure, there is data out there that shows there is no correlation to relaxing rules equating to more spots,” said Kayla Klein, Early Learner South Dakota Executive Director.

DSS wants more childcare spots available, however, Early Learner South Dakota warns relaxing the rules could result in injury or even death. Early Learner says allowing providers to care for more children will increase the burden, not ease it.

“We’ve sometimes seen the opposite, where we’re putting more kiddos with fewer teachers and the mental health of the provider and having to care for that many kids at one time, that becomes an issue,” explains Klein.

Ultimately, the loss of childcare can be traced back to the workforce crisis. Early Learner South Dakota believes this can be reversed with incentives.

“Let’s think of how to increase incentives how do we get individuals to want to take on this field, how do we get to open an in-home, start a business, how can we incentivize people to realize this is a field they want to be in,” said Klein.

Early Learner South Dakota believes in keeping children’s safety and well-being the main priority.

DSS will meet on Friday, but you can still voice your concerns up to 10 days after the meeting, or on May 22. You can do this by mailing them to Teresa Schulte, Administrative Rules, Department of Social Services, 811 East 10th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57103, or email them to DSSAdminRules@state.sd.us.