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TenHaken: Lack of Child Care Top Obstacle to Finding Workers. Noem: Let’s Spend Federal Money!

The biggest issue causing the workforce shortage is something that President Joe Biden wants to fix but which South Dakota’s Republican leaders have resisted—more affordable child care:

“The lack of reliable, affordable daycare is the number one issue that is affecting our workforce crunch right now,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

In Sioux Falls alone, about 2,000 children of working parents do not have child-care spots available to them, and an estimated 4,000 parents in the city are not in the workforce but could be if they had day care available, according to a recent report by the Sioux Falls Child Care Collaborative.

…“This is our most important asset, this is our kids we’re taking about,” TenHaken said. “What’s that worth to a society to make sure we’re investing in ensuring these kids get the absolutely top-shelf care when not under their parents’ supervision? It says a lot about us as a society in how you invest in your kids and your youth, and it kind of tells you where your priorities are as a community and as a state” [Bart Pfankuch, “Child Care Crisis in S.D. Hurting Families, Employers and State Economy,” South Dakota News Watch, 2021.12.15].

Paul’s friends John Thune and Kristi Noem resisted President Biden’s efforts to include child care in his investments in vital national infrastructure, saying infrastructure dollars should only be used for their narrow, traditional conception of infrastructure. But now Noem is willing repurpose federal coronavirus relief funds to do things well outside any definition of pandemic relief, like spending $100 million to build the daycare centers TenHaken says we need:

Through the use of federal funds, the Department of Social Services will use $100 million to provide grants for startup and one-time costs for new daycare centers. This will allow high-quality child care facilities to open and expand around the state. And it will help existing registered facilities stay open.

We need to study the hurdles facing child care centers. We will provide resources to employers who want to open child care facilities for their employees. And we will fund scholarships to train skilled child care workers.

I know parents want the best for their children. But the answer isn’t government bureaucrats taking care of their kids. Let’s strengthen our existing daycare centers, help new providers enter the business, and put more talented child care professionals into the field [Gov. Kristi Noem, budget address, 2021.12.07].

Of course, as is the case with another hindrance to worker availability, affordable housing, the things South Dakota’s economy needs will only become more affordable if South Dakota pays better wages, and Noem’s one-time expenditure of federal money does nothing to ensure ongoing livable wages for either daycare providers or the parents whose need to work four jobs to afford groceries and health insurance requires them to put their kids in child care. But a comprehensive solution would require vision and courage, neither of which our Governor has. She can only see as far as her next bailout from the federal government.

27 Comments

  1. Daniel Buresh 2021-12-16

    Continued government market manipulation via subsidizing corporate America to keep necessity prices low will only generate more welfare cases and government dependent citizens while expanding the wage gap and funneling money to the top.

  2. Richard Schriever 2021-12-16

    How about giving the $100 MM directly to those 4,000 parents ($25k each), so they maybe can afford to stay home and care for their own children???

  3. jerry 2021-12-16

    Continued manipulation is what a healthy society does for all of its citizens. Look to Europe to see how it all works for it’s citizens. They depend on their government because their government depends on them.

  4. grudznick 2021-12-16

    Mr. H eschews Governor Noem’s one time money to start day cares and says it does nothing to help workers in the long run.

    Mr. Schriever wants to use the one time money for handouts to slackards so they can just sit home and drink and smoke and vegetate but does nothing to help them feed their kids when the money runs out.

    Pick a lane, blogboys.

  5. Donald Pay 2021-12-16

    Ten Haken’s statement above is right on the money, though it takes a Republican to look at children as “assets.” I understand what he means, though. It isn’t just “day” care either. Some parents may have to work odd shifts, and there is very little in the way of weekend and night care. There are more opportunities for neighbors or other family members to watch kids sometimes at night and weekends, but it’s not often easy to ask someone to do it for free.

    When it comes down to it, many couples figure out that the costs of daycare wipes a lot of what is earned, and one of the parents stays home for a few years. It would be nice to give parents who do this a little stipend.

    Grudz thinks it’s a matter of “picking lanes,” but it’s really much more complicated. What lane is the right lane varies with every family.

  6. Porter Lansing 2021-12-16

    South Dakota has a worker shortage because grudznick and his whitey majority are mean to Mexicans. They’d rather do without than be decent to good people.

  7. O 2021-12-16

    Affordable day care and affordable housing both allow workers to be more selective in the jobs they choose to take. The absence of both keeps many workers trapped in their terrible jobs to try to make ends meet after those huge costs. But as with so much of this economy, unbridled capitalism and the exploitation of workers has gone too far, so now socialism is being called in to save the corporate arses. Although it seems like a boon to workers (which it in part is), it is more about keeping the corporate monster fed. The profit-making workers are staying home, and that hurts shareholders, so another call for socialism to help get underpaid folks back in jobs to protect those shareholder profits when capitalism and profit will not (through higher wages or companies providing daycare).

  8. O 2021-12-16

    We do not have a worker shortage, we are long on crappy jobs.

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-12-16

    Oh grudz your such a canker. Can’t you come up with something better than either or, you wanker.

  10. MD 2021-12-16

    There is a reason that the birth rate is dropping
    You need to be making very good money in a two income household to afford most child care. It’s hard to afford more than 1-2 kids

    One time money will have minimal impact – only if it can make childcare more efficient – otherwise it will just be expensive childcare in a nicer, subsidized building.

  11. Donald Pay 2021-12-16

    O, I know what you mean about “crappy jobs.” I took my share of “survival jobs” just to make sure my family could eat and have a roof over our heads. In the end, they provided “survival,” if not financial security, for my family. I was happy to have them, because they allowed me to keep doing the other work that I did on environmental issues in South Dakota.

    I spent the latter half of my career finding such jobs for people who had difficulty finding and keeping jobs. I know these jobs are “crappy” for a lot of reasons, low pay, few benefits, often lousy supervisors and lots of BS. But, for some, crappy jobs are the first rung up a ladder that leads to, if not wealth, at least a decent life. For others, these crappy jobs provide food and rent, a feeling of self worth and some positive social outlets. For some, that’s all they want.

    As I said to Grudz above, it’s complicated. Many folks take these jobs, but still need government assistance to make it. Is that a subsidy to lazy workers? No. The workers are doing their job. It’s much more a subsidy for businesses that refuse to pay a living wage.

  12. Jad 2021-12-16

    Business owners share some of the blame in creating the shortage. Business closed on-site day care centers. Business expect workers to be low paid and worry about their children while the business owner makes 100 times what the worker does.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-16

    In my career, I was involved in developing funding and planning for both employee day care and low to moderate income housing. Both are driven by federal policy and a combination of federal and state funding. In the low to moderate income housing area,there was an effort initiated by the Bush Administration to use tax incentives to provide a significant portion of funding for low and moderate income housing. It has been a total disaster. Employee Day Care seems to work only in a booming, expanding economy. Most employers are struggling to provide a decent group medical insurance program with a meaningful family insurance feature. The Progressives are correct. We need a top to bottom revision in both areas.

  14. jerry 2021-12-16

    Public day care centers would be a target for right wing extremists. These centers would need to be hardened with tight security… especially in South Dakota. These centers then would provide a serious amount of good paying employment so the children will be started off correctly education wise.

  15. grudznick 2021-12-16

    Mr. jerry is righter than right. Those wingnuts from here in Rapid City would quash this with a stiff thumb. Quashing. It would happen by the wingnuts even outside of the District numbered 30, for there are far insaner in the legislatures than they.

    Mr. jerry is righter than right.

  16. larry kurtz 2021-12-16

    Republican leadership is an oxymoron.

  17. grudznick 2021-12-16

    Even in Belle, to this day the common sense of grudznick prevails.

  18. Scott 2021-12-16

    When businesses get grants, tax breaks, TIF’s etc from the Governor, GOED, Counties, or cities there should be stipulations such as:
    Minimum wage = 2x the state minimum wage
    Mandatory health care 100% paid for by the employer
    If the business employs over 100 people, the business should have to offer an onsite daycare at a reasonable cost to the employee.

    If there were rules similar to this, a lot of these issues would be solved. Either all these business breaks would come to an end, leaving more money in the pockets of taxpayers; or the employees would be able to afford and have access to childcare.

  19. grudznick 2021-12-16

    And we should all blame Josiah’s Coffee house and the insane libbie name calling they started. For everything. They are probably being shut down by the heinous government at this moment. We don’t know. They might be rolling in gravy and $100 dollar bills in the back room. We don’t know.

  20. Joe 2021-12-17

    A good friend of mine, Steve Hildebrandt founded Josiah’s Coffee House after working as Obama’s campaign manager. He sold Josiah’s, retired and is now volunteering with the Sioux Falls school district, fund-raising to bring books to the classrooms of the city’s high-poverty schools.

    I would be interested in knowing what charity work Grudz has done. Probably none. Also, has he has a stroke?

  21. I'm No Dr. Suess 2021-12-17

    A coworker of mine had to come to work sick because she could not afford to stay home. Tested positive for Covid and was back after 5 days. Now what are we spending our relief dollars for?

  22. John Dale 2021-12-20

    Willingness to raise children is the precursor to humanity, yet, look how little we value it.

  23. larry kurtz 2021-12-20

    As young people and Democrats flee South Dakota more brown people are doing the work in the red moocher state. Meat processors and industrial agriculture employ the greatest numbers of Hispanics in South Dakota. Spanish speakers prop up the federally subsidized dairy industry East River but in Huron Karen refugees slaughter and process turkeys. So now that brown workers can take the driver’s license exam in Spanish white people can spend more time snorting and shooting meth.

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-21

    TenHaken tells KSFY how grateful he is that Noem is spending President Biden’s aid on day care:

    That’s why Mayor Paul TenHaken told Dakota News Now last week that one of the most encouraging things about Gov. Noem’s recent recommended budget plan is the $100 million South Dakota received through the American Rescue Plan Act that President Biden signed in March.

    About $40 million will go toward helping start new day care centers.

    “If we can make day care more affordable and more accessible, get more of them in the market, that’s a huge home run, so I’m very excited about that,” TenHaken said.

    And $60 million of the stimulus money will go toward grants for existing child care providers like Good Shepherd, which applied to the Department of Social Services right away last week when they were first made available, and has already been notified it has qualified [John Gaskins, “Day Care Centers Getting Big Boost from Covid-19 Stimulus,” KSFY, 2021.12.20].

    Just say it, Mayor Paul: “Thank you, President Biden, for helping the Sioux Falls economy.”

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-21

    Indeed, John, look how little Republicans value raising children, and look how much Democrats are willing to practically support raising children.

    It’s hard to raise kids when both parents are working 80 hours a week for crap wages.

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