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Human Infrastructure: South Dakota Short of Affordable Child Care

Whether or not you call child care infrastructure, providing working parents with safe, nurturing, and affordable child care is vital to our economy. If parents can’t afford child care, they can’t come wait our tables and ring up our groceries and weld our tractors.

KELO-TV points to data indicating that a majority of South Dakota families cannot afford child care:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), child care is affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family’s income.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 28.5% of South Dakota families can afford infant care. Infant care for one child would cost 10.2% of the median family income in the state, according to EPI.

…In general child care for an infant and a 4-year-old in the state is $12,860 a year, according to the EPI.

The Augustana/childcare collaborative study for Sioux Falls said the average child care cost for one child is almost $10,000 a year.

[Rae Yost, “Child Care: Sioux Falls, State Can’t Work Without It,” KELO-TV, 2021.09.22].

That Augie study Yost cites finds that Sioux Falls, which hosts the biggest and best community economy in the state, is failing to meet the market need for child care. 75% of Sioux Falls kids under 6 have both parents in the workforce, and nearly 1,000 Sioux Falls families are waiting for child care center slots to open up

South Dakota’s shortage of affordable child care contributes to our workforce shortage and hinder our economic growth. That’s one of the reasons the Biden Administration wants to include child care in its infrastructure investments:

First Lady Jill Biden and Congresswoman Cindy Axne held an event in Ankeny today to tout elements of the $3.5 trillion infrastructure package Democrats are proposing. Jill Biden said it would guarantee access to high quality, child care and free preschool.

“Whether you’re a struggling single parent or a dual income family, the cost of child care can be crushing,” Biden said. “…This is infrastructure and investing in working families is the best way that we are going to recover from this pandemic.”

Axne told reporters America’s roads and bridges need repairs, but she fields far more concerns from Iowans about a lack of child care options. “We’ve got waiting lists over 80 kids strong in Stanton, Iowa — a tiny town, so imagine what some of our larger cities are facing as well,” Axne said. “This is a real problem here” [O. Kay Henderson, “Axne and First Lady Biden Tout Child Care as Infrastructure,” Radio Iowa, 2021.09.15].

Affordable child care isn’t some liberal wish—parents can’t go to work without affordable child care any more than they can get to work without well-maintained roads. Call it infrastructure; call it family values; call it whatever you want—but don’t call yourself pro-business or pro-family if you’re standing in the way of the President’s proposed investments in affordable child care for all working South Dakotans.


  1. John Dale 2021-09-23 20:27

    It’s a shame both parents are forced into forced slavitude, or they could do it themselves. I’m all for a good, hard day’s work, but when children are involved, rearing them is a good, hard day’s work. People say we should pay teacher more.

    How about parents?

    Why not parents?

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-09-23 20:41

    OK John your going to change all of society so you can stay home, barefoot in the kitchen. Got yah. Pay child care workers more, its really simple.

  3. O 2021-09-23 20:46

    Mark, John – in a complete reversal – came out for living wages for all SD workers — give him a break. (sarcasm)

  4. ArloBlundt 2021-09-23 20:54

    John Dale–you are a drag on the economy of this great nation. You are not pulling your own weight much less contributing to the inevitable triumph of the free enterprise system. You are a self centered leech feeding off the sweat and sacrifice of others. Get off your dead behind and find a real job.

  5. larry kurtz 2021-09-23 22:10

    Bankers determine who works or doesn’t work in South Dakota but in Lawrence County the federal government is the largest employer because moral hazard trumps self-reliance.

  6. larry kurtz 2021-09-23 22:15

    Today, naming a dark matter lab 5000 feet below Lead after a lecherous, usurious billionaire from Sioux Falls sticks in plenty of craws in South Dakota yet real science is getting done there. The Homestake Mine represents 8000 feet closer to the geothermal potential capable of powering much of the region. But South Dakota is dumbing down requirements for math teachers because graduates flee the state where the SD Republican Party ridicules educated people and perennially threatens funding for public radio.

    Now, scientists and scholars are repopulating Lawrence County making ripples likely to test anchored Republicans.

  7. ABC 2021-09-24 02:36

    “Bankers determine who works or doesn’t work in South Dakota but in Lawrence County the federal government is the largest employer because moral hazard trumps self-reliance.”

    Bankers are janitors of money.

    I got 2 jobs in the last 23 years with Fortune 500 Companies IN South Dakota, and a banker had nothing to do with it. 1998, heard the word, walked into Vermillion, and was hired in 10 minutes after showing my resume. 2021, a recruiter saw my resume on and e-mailed me, one week later I was hired. A banker had nothing to do with it!

    If you loan or give out $100 or $500 to 3 HUNGRY entrepreneurs who really want to create something great, you are MORE than a Banker !!!!

    If you decide to get ELECTED in November 2022 as a Progressive Governor, Senator or Representative (State Level), then you are MORE than a Democrat !!! You are the Real DEAL!

    Don’t say bad things about people!


  8. scott 2021-09-24 07:28

    larry k, it sounds like liberal scientists are moving in to threaten our way of life. we must shut that lab down at once! the displaced scientists can find work in the black hills tourist industry, if they aren’t too lazy to work.

  9. grudznick 2021-09-24 09:45

    Hey, Lar, they are opening little hippy shops in Lead. Lead is becoming the new Spearditch. Did you know that the scientists even raise their own chickens down there in the mine, so they can have breasts with eggs that haven’t been polluted by gamma rays from Mars? Really. They have a chicken ranch down there with generations of chickens born and raise and never seeing a ray of natural sunlight. I bet those omelets are something else.

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