Governor Noem approves $12.5 million for child care startups and expansions

The Aberdeen Youth Development Center says most of their classes are full, and they receive at least six calls a day from parents looking for care.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 4:38 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While the child care crisis continues in the state, a new grant funding option could help.

The Department of Social Services announced Monday that Governor Kristi Noem has approved $12.5 million of ARPA funds to fuel the expansion and startups of child care facilities in the next year.

Sanford Children’s CHILD Services in Aberdeen said there is a recent decline of child care options in the area, and they provide resources to encourage more state licensed providers to open.

”The childcare crisis is pretty demanding, so promoting it and having the resources to help people become state registered is huge,” said Amanda Daniels, a Family Life Educator at Sanford CHILD Services in Aberdeen.

Sanford CHILD Services will host an informational event on January 31st in the Aberdeen YMCA Community Room from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“We will talk about the benefits of becoming state licensed, a lot of good benefits, and also the referral program and then the registration process. We will help with everything and all of it,” said Daniels.

Daniels said Sanford CHILD Services can help anyone interested in becoming a state-licensed provider with the process, and the grant funding can help with the cost.

“It could definitely encourage people to get state registered because getting state registered involves all those grants. You can’t be just a city-licensed provider and get those grants. It’s only for state-licensed. It’s a lot of funding available, so it would be a great opportunity for anybody that’s interested. The grants could help with anywhere from starting up to getting certain toys,” said Daniels.

The Youth Development Center in Aberdeen said they’re seeing the most demand for care in pre-kindergarten groups and younger.

”Right now, our waitlist for a newborn is six months. Most of our other age groups are also full, specifically infant and toddler. We continue to see a number of phone calls, at least six a day, looking for care,” said Aberdeen YMCA CEO Mike Quast.

The YDC plans to break ground this summer on an expansion that will double the amount of spots available for infants and toddlers, and the need for more room has become critical in the past few years.

”Recently, since COVID, we have seen actually quite a few more calls of people looking for care. We’ve heard through people calling that their childcares have closed. It does seem like there has been more in the last two years than the previous years,” said Quast.

Quast said the the expansion was originally estimated to cost $3.5 million, but inflation and supply chain issues have driven that total cost up to $4 million. The YDC has fundraised $3.2 million for the project so far.

According to the Department of Social Services, the grant funding can be used for equipment, supplies, health and safety items, payroll expenses, rent and more. The deadline to apply for the grant is February 1st, 2024.