Noem talks increased paid family leave, support for pregnant mothers, foster care children

Gov. Noem gave her State of the State address Tuesday.
Gov. Noem gave her State of the State address Tuesday.(Dakota News Now)
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 3:17 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Gov. Noem shared her plans aimed at strengthening South Dakota families in her State of the State address Tuesday.

Noem proposed extending the paid family leave benefits provided by the state to 100% of an employee’s salary for 12 weeks. The current amount is 60% for eight weeks.

In addition to covering new births and adoptions, this will also apply to those taking care of a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition, or a situation where a spouse is called to active-duty military service.

Help for pregnant mothers

Noem’s budget proposes over $1 million for pregnancy and postpartum care for mothers who are Medicaid recipients, providing intensive care management for pregnant moms who are at risk of poor birth outcomes.

After birth, these mothers can join the Bright Start program. Bright Start is a free personal nurse program that provides mothers one-to-one support from registered nurses up until children turn 2 years old.

“This proves our commitment to helping moms and families through whatever situations they may face,” Noem said. “We will help them and their babies both before birth and after.”

Adoption

Noem stated that improving adoption has been an area of emphasis during her time as governor. She referred to the Life.SD.Gov website, which provides resources for those looking to adopt or to place children in adoption.

Noem also proposed that state employees adopting children domestically receive up to $25,000.

Support for children in foster care

Two years ago, Gov. Noem launched the “Stronger Families Together” initiative, which she stated correlated with an increase in foster families—over 300 families recruited per year compared to fewer than 200 recruited per year before the initiative. She stated the program’s target was met in year one, with recruitment contacts up for year two.

To help combat educational challenges faced by children in foster care, Noem announced the “Stronger Families Scholarships” proposal. Through the initiative, any child in the foster care system can receive up to $4,000 in a scholarship, from kindergarten through 12th grade. This money can go toward costs like tuition at private schools, tutoring services, curriculum, or standardized tests and AP exams.

Helping child care providers

Noem spoke of overhauling child care rules and regulations for providers and releasing around $40 million in grants for providers.

Another proposal is to partner with the South Dakota Farm Bureau to help make health benefits possible for child care employees to attract more people to the field.