More Federal Help Coming for State-Registered Child Care Centers

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Between January and April, 676 registered child care programs in South Dakota received more than $32 million in federal grants from the American Rescue Plan.

Of those recipients, 322 were registered home child care programs or in-home providers, who were eligible to receive up to $15,000 in grants. But many registered home child care providers in the city are frustrated that they have been left out of the program.

“I’ve been doing city-licensed child care for 13 years,” Joy Viessman said.

Joy Viessman loves her job and takes her municipal license seriously, saying all providers must go through strict inspections and training before opening a daycare.

“We’re strict, we have to go through background checks, we go through all that stuff, just like a state ran a day care center,” Viessman said.

Viessman was previously registered with the state.

“I tried for a while, my parents didn’t like it, so I quit,” Viessman said.

She had problems with some of the daily requirements like monthly menus, rules about sleeping with blankets or giving milk to children before they were one year old.

“State regulations have rules that parents don’t agree with, and when you do that, how do you decide between what the state wants and what the parents want for their kids?” Viesman said.

But dropping her state certification meant she was ineligible for the recent round of federal child care stabilization grants.

“We being licensed by the city, no matter what town in South Dakota you’re in, none of us got any grant money, zero money,” Viessman said.

Many towns in South Dakota like Sioux Falls and Rapid City require all home daycares to register their business and home in order to operate. But some cities in the state don’t have any kind of registration or requirements.

“You will need to be a state-registered provider to receive federal funds,” said Becky Nelson, Department of Social Services administrator for licensing and accreditation.

The Department of Social Services is responsible for distributing federal ARPA grants to child care providers in South Dakota.

“Vendors use them for operating expenses,” Nelson said.

“A friend of mine is a state licensed daycare, she used it to help optimize her home, she bought new toys for her yard,” Viessman said.

Nelson says similar grants may be coming soon, with the same requirements. That’s why state officials are encouraging all city-licensed vendors to begin the state registration process now.

“There are additional supports that will come in the near future with the additional federal funds the state has received,” Nelson said.

It’s not just federal grants; the state is also adding new financial incentives to encourage more home child care providers to become state-certified.

Coming to Friday’s Eye on KELOLAND at ten o’clock, we look at the role these home-based providers could play in alleviating the shortage of childcare services and the incentives that state registration can provide.

About Christopher Easley

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