Child care providers voice frustration over criteria to receive Covid funding grants

South Dakota child care providers asking questions about covid funding grant criteria
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 8:17 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -The American Rescue Plan Act provided South Dakota with additional funds designed to help stabilize the child care industry as the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first round of funding was sent to child care providers last week. While some received checks or an electronic deposit, providers who are not registered or licensed by the state were left empty-handed.

Providing in-home care to children has been of part of Lori Borah’s life for 16 years. She’s licensed with the city of Sioux Falls and is subject to inspections.

“I follow all the guidelines. Keep the right amount of children. My house is clean. I take my classes. I have inspections. I have returning families with other children,” said Borah.

She discontinued her state registration 2 years ago.

“The only thing different with me is I don’t follow all their paperwork,” said Borah.

A representative of the state called and gave her a $25 dollar gift card to answer some questions.

“She said that the state is interested in why so many people are stopping their state licensing,” said Borah.

Children in care who receive subsidies need to go to a state-licensed facility. Borah was already full, no children had subsidies, so she let go of her state license. Shanda Weiman also is a city-licensed provider without a state license. Both believe the federal money was intended to be used for all providers, not just those licensed or registered by the state.

Weiman looked up the wording of the federal childcare stabilization act, which states a facility is, “Licensed with the DSS, or fulfills and satisfies state and local requirements. It doesn’t say just registered, so they (the state) made that choice. independently,” said Weiman.

Governor Noem said she prefers all centers be licensed with the state for oversight reasons.

A care center that is state-licensed is Little Tykes University, Owner Corri Poore has respect for all caregivers saying, “Stay at home providers and center providers, we are all on one accord. Including subsidized childcare can expose kids to more diversity.”

“Be surrounded by people from different backgrounds. It is huge for all of the kids involved. So I do see the benefit in the state requiring that folks are registered with them. But at the same time, I also realize as a former home provider that these folks are on the front lines, just the way that we are so I’m hoping that we can figure out some ways to really bring others into the fold,” said Poore.

While the hope is more providers will receive the next round of covid funding, any parent who has childcare lined up right now is counting themselves as lucky.

“Child care is definitely in crisis right now,” said Borah.

“This is not feasible, that’s not going to self-sustain and it’s crumbling in that regard. Definitely, a conversation, and we could make more just going down the road to work at Taco John’s or Hobby Lobby or something like that,” said Weiman.

“There’s there’s a disparity in our ratio requirements,” said Poole. He’s describing different ratios of providers to children at in-home care facilities versus centers. He hopes all providers will unite and advocate not only for the children but their industry.

“We have power, we have a voice, and we have a very, very important job and it’s time to see it as such,” said Poole.

The funds distributed ranged from 2,400 for an in-home state-licensed daycare to nearly a million to daycare with three locations. Each provider needs to report how the money is spent, which needs to be completed by Dec. 30.

We requested a statement and information from the Department of Social Services regarding the criteria for funding if there would be additional providers included in the next round of funding, and about the gift card phone call surveys. We did not receive a response.

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