$38 million can be used, but must meet federal requirements...
DSS has $38 million in discretionary funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support child care. Funds can be used for any allowable use of federal Child Care Development Funds and must meet all federal requirements
The Department of Social Services (DSS) is planning several opportunities for child care providers, community members, and families to give their input on how one-time funding for South Dakota’s child care system is spent. However, as previously reported by The Dakota Leader
, these funds could alter the way that state day care facilities are run.
The Department of Social Services will continue to host listening sessions through the end of August, in an effort to hear from families, and care providers across the state. Sessions will be hosted in-person and remotely in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen.
Privately run day care facilities will not have access to the one time funds, per the ARPA guidelines. State licensed day care facilities, that registered through an online portal last year, were initially allocated the first $30 million dollars. Now the state is seeking input from the community, prior to allocating the second round of funds.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
During legislative testimony last session, DSS disclosed to lawmakers that out of nearly 3,000 state-wide day care facilities, less than 800 were licensed with the state. Representative Liz May (R-Kyle) asked of Secretary Lorie Gill, why day care facilities would choose to be private versus state licensed? Gill responded that she was unsure at that point.
Since then, The Dakota Leader has spoken with various day care providers to understand the issues better. One individual was willing to be quoted, but only if we kept her identity anonymous.
X runs a day care facility from her home farm, and told The Dakota Leader that staying licensed with the state only increased her costs, and anxiety level. She says that parents just can't afford cost increases today, and the anxiety became more trouble than it was worth.
"I stopped keeping up with the state license because it just wasn't worth it," X stated. "The state tends to get super picky, and wouldn't have allowed me to continue serving certain kids. The state wanted me to remove the outside play sets we have, which the kids love, and they showed up unannounced from time to time, it just became more trouble than it was worth. But my line in the sand was due to the kids here that have had vaccine reactions. These parents have been told by doctors not to proceed with the childhood schedule, while others have high needs," she trailed off. "I'm just not going to kick kids out, they all belong, and it's just not worth the federal money to have to run my home like the state wants."
In addition, she tells The Dakota Leader that keeping up with state guidelines increases her costs, and those costs end up getting passed onto to parents. "I have to make money, and while I don't make a ton, pretty much every dime I make goes right back into the day care, I also can't afford to do this for free either. So if it comes between a state license and keeping costs low, well, clearly you know my answer."
While the state of South Dakota currently allows for religious and philosophical exemptions to the childhood vaccination schedule for K-12, licensed day care facilities, "must require all age-appropriate immunizations, not including hepatitis B,"
according to state regulations.
In addition, everything from masking rules to play structure equipment, vaccination requirements etc. vary from county to county and town to town, across the state. Currently, mandatory masking is not being implemented for example, but some argue that might change after federal dollars are accepted. Buried within the federal requirements for acceptance of the funds, are guidelines to strictly adhere to CDC guidelines. As previously reported, failure to abide by these guidelines would prompt a repayment process
Mya Olson of South Dakota Health Freedom, says parents are concerned about what will happen this coming year, especially in light of the constantly changing guidelines from regulatory agencies, and a lack of clear local law.
"The parents of children in South Dakota, who choose to exercise their right to an exemption, are currently protected by state law. However, as we have seen over the last eighteen-months, that state law has not gone far enough in protecting South Dakota citizens. The federal regulations, although never legally enforced, caused businesses across the state to enforce guidelines that were created by the CDC and OSHA," Olson says. "This directly contributed to the loss of jobs and coerced vaccinations."
"We are already seeing this in South Dakota, where state-run agencies like the Oglala school district, are currently telling their parents and students they need the full series of COVID-19 vaccines to return to school. While the directive from Oglala is patently false, and contrary to state exemption laws, it's precisely this type of legal grey area that's causing concerns."
Olson tells The Dakota Leader, that many would rather remain private and forgo federal funds, than face the unknowns of future and ever-changing guidelines dictating how people are allowed to run their businesses.
"If these ambiguous, and ever-changing rules aren't followed after receiving ARPA funds, it could result in financial hardship, repayment, and the loss of state licensing. Especially as state and federal agencies continue to alter guidance, I can understand the concern from the owners of child care facilities. When you aren't sure what you're agreeing to, it makes sense that child care providers would opt-out, rather than unknowingly submit to loosely handled regulations and seemingly politically motivated indecisiveness. In light of the lack of local protections, or firm ground, being licensed with the state could mean handing over control of your business, and at times common sense."
There are only a few listening sessions left
. Tomorrow, August 12th at the Ramkota Hotel in Aberdeen, and Monday August 15, 2022 at the Rapid City Convention Center. Sessions will be available for virtual attendance, and the link to register can be found here
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--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader
|Post Date: 2022-08-11 21:19:11||Last Update: 2022-08-11 12:27:22|