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Short on Childcare Workers, DSS Considers Assigning More Kids, Requiring Less Training

South Dakota can’t find enough workers to take care of children while their parents are out working. Rather than recruiting more workers with better wages, the Department of Social Services figures it’s a good idea to let daycare workers handle more kids with less training and attention:

There are four changes the DSS is proposing that Early Learner South Dakota is opposing. The first allows in-home providers to care for 3 infants, up from 2. The second change lets in-home providers have 4 children under the age of 2, this is up from 2. The third and fourth, both involve childcare centers. DSS is proposing cutting training for providers in half, from 20 hours to 10 hours. Finally, DSS says providers only need to hear sleeping children, meaning there would be a requirement to check on napping kids every 15 minutes, not watching them the entire time [Keith Grant, “Early Learner SD: Proposed DSS Childcare Changes Weaken Children’s Safety,” KOTA-TV, 2023.05.12].

Childcare providers at DSS’s Friday hearing in Sioux Falls on the proposed rules were mostly skeptical, saying that more kids and less training would degrade care and burn out more childcare workers:

Others, like MaryAnne Freng, who runs two child care businesses in Huron, felt that adding an additional infant to the family-home care centers would be unsafe.

“There’s no way any superwoman is going to get three infants out, a 1-year-old out and maybe eight 3-year-olds out in case of a fire,” Freng, whose comments represented her own thoughts, said.

Carmen Stewart, who sits on the board of a non-profit childcare center in Vermillion but was speaking on her own behalf Friday, said she was concerned about the impact of the higher ratio of children on childcare workers.

“We are already facing a childcare shortage in our state. We are seeing increased challenging behaviors of children,” she said. “We also have parents that need a lot of support and to add more children to a staff member that is already experiencing stressors, I can see more exodus of professionals from our field due to the additional stressors” [Annie Todd, “DSS Proposed Rules Would Change Child Care Provider Ratios and Training Hours,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2023.05.12].

DSS is taking public comment on these proposed looser rules for childcare through May 22 (that’s next Monday!). You can mail your comments to Teresa Schulte, Administrative Rules, Department of Social Services, 811 East 10th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57103 or e-mail comments to The rules then go to the Legislature’s Interim Rules Review Committee, which next meets on June 13.


  1. Nick Nemec 2023-05-15

    Giving the most underpaid workers in South Dakota more work without additional compensation is not how you solve the South Dakota childcare crisis of hard to find childcare.

  2. Bonnie B Fairbank 2023-05-15

    I wish someone (anyone) could explain the apparent contradiction of childcare costs being outrageously expensive or childcare workers being grotesquely underpaid. I’ve read dozens of articles over many years, but not one author or publication has addressed these issues.

  3. Ben Cerwinske 2023-05-15

    I’m in education and childcare. I would argue it’s not necessarily about pay. Low pay wouldn’t seem so bad if you weren’t routinely asked to solve problems nobody should be asked to solve regardless of pay.

    It’s no longer one child with toxic stress in their lives, but multiple in only a 20 child class. Even well trained (and better paid) professionals aren’t asked to work with these kids in large groups. It’s usually one-on-one or small groups. Classroom teachers and even college (high school?) students, in the case of childcare, are asked to help those children while trying to serve many other kids.

  4. O 2023-05-15

    Again, no matter the labor problem, the SD solution is keep wages low. I’m sure the next step will be to “invest” in corporate structures to fix the problem; socialize more costs to create more private profit.

  5. Loren 2023-05-15

    Don’t meet the standards? No problem! Lower the standards. Didn’t we hear this about appraiser licensing, testing for the bar exam, pilot shortages, teacher shortages… Are we sure this is the best approach?

  6. P. Aitch 2023-05-15

    Is your grandchild in need of a specialized school.? Consider moving to Colorado where the child will be empathetically embraced. Colorado specialized schools offer a combination of therapy and learning, all designed to help students become comfortable at their home schools. Currently there are 30 serving an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 children a year. But a new law signed by Gov. Jared Polis this legislative session will increase funding the next three years, adding $28 million a year by 2025 to help open four new locations each of those years.

  7. Mark Anderson 2023-05-15

    Just get some Border Collies for recess and let the kids play. They can be herded in for nap time. A certain ceramics professor at Northern used to have his kid on a rope tied to a tree when he was busy. I’m not sure that would work for a group. You could have movie day care, just Disney, like the Strange World movie for instance. Drag Queen day care, reading continually and dress up hour and makeup. There are all kinds of solutions.

  8. P. Aitch 2023-05-15

    I like your humor, Mark. And “Lord of the Flies” daycare center has an oddly literate ring to it.

  9. All Mammal 2023-05-15

    I would rather have a non-fluent English speaker with a good heart and passion for caring for little kids land a daycare position at the current standards than adopt lower standards to remedy the childcare shortage. In other words, we need the benefits of allowing our desperate neighbors at the border to legally come join our communities and get some new flavor in the mix. I am sure we can learn a whole lot from having some diversity around here. When I lived with migrant workers in ND, we became family and I realized wannabe Americans make ideal Americans.

  10. John 2023-05-15

    Malarkey. Send them to the mines, clean the packing plants, and disinfect the sewers.
    This is the foreseeable apogee of arrogance and
    uncaring in the pro-birth, anti-child, anti-family party.
    It’s a systematic cultural crying shame that our courts & teachers are forced to mask the scope & breadth of dysfunctional kids & families from society.
    Towns that want an oldsters pickleball court get it done in weeks – while they have daycare waiting lists of over kids. SD & it’s towns send young families a clear message – forage elsewhere.

  11. P. Aitch 2023-05-15

    Fully agree with the highly wise All Mammal. Undocumented immigrants have long been a contentious political issue in America. Especially this week with the removal of Title 42. Many believe that their presence undermines the rule of law and threatens national security. Those who oppose undocumented immigrants see them as a corrosive force, a ticking time bomb that saps resources and strains social services. The argument goes that they are a burden on taxpayers, depressing wages and taking jobs from native-born Americans. In the eyes of some, they are seen as people who don’t value American institutions, flout the rules, and operate outside of the system. Ultimately, there is a perception that undocumented immigrants pose a threat to American values, traditions, and institutions, and that they should be removed from the country as soon as possible.
    – It’s a self esteem problem with these extremists who carry this baggage against new Americans. They’re unfulfilled in their own lives which transfers to a need to feel superior over someone, anyone. Funny thing is that it doesn’t help them feel any better about themselves.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-15

    This appears to be another Noem Administration “non-solution” to a problem that affects families across the state. Next we’ll instruct counties to cease enforcement of life, health, and safety rules. Let’s dumb down daycare!!

  13. bearcreekbat 2023-05-15

    While P.Aitch’s assessment may be fairly accurate in describing the general attitudes of individuals who object to the presence of people (i.e. immigrants) without “papers,” I actually think there is a more concise description that encompasses what P.Aitch wrote and perhaps more:

    In my view, it would seem that those who object to the presence of people without “papers” see these people as somehow less than human. Such a view accomplishes the goals identified by P.Aitch and enables normally caring and compassionate individuals to think they can treat people without “papers” like garbage without feelings of guilt.

  14. P. Aitch 2023-05-15

    Well said, BCB. Thank you. It seems to my experience that rural people who see few others except known acquaintances, are quicker to label a stranger as “less than human” especially if that stranger’s skin and language are somehow different.
    Why does anyone here suppose that is? grudznick? What think you and there’s no need to try to be funny in the face of seriousness. You’re not in Catholic school anymore.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-15

    The Mexican and Central American immigrants are hard working, rural, family oriented Christians, for crying out loud. If that doesn’t sound like potential Republicans, I don’t know what does…yet the Christian Nationalists reject them as threats to the American Way of Life, whatever that means. Of course the first generation will struggle, but they’ll work their way up the ladder. Maybe that’s what the Christians fear….competition in the work place. As Grudznick would advise, the Christian, arm waving overgodders, whining Republicans need to work harder.

  16. P. Aitch 2023-05-15

    Well said, Arlo. Thanks for sharing.

  17. R.+Kolbe 2023-05-16

    To solve problem
    Pass resolution that adds two(2) years to age to all youngsters in day care.
    That will make the finding it easier to find care givers.

  18. David Bergan 2023-05-16

    If a stranger broke into my house without permission, should my first thought be that he has good intentions or bad intentions? Did he break in to help me redecorate, or to rob me? I think that’s the frame of mind for people who are against undocumented immigration. I don’t think it’s a “less than human” attitude… it’s an attitude of “There’s a clear way they’re supposed to do this, and if they’re legitimate, they would just follow that process. If they aren’t following it, they likely aren’t legitimate.” That’s a sensible frame of mind.

    However, what I’ve learned from my missionary friends in Guatemala is that the legal path is broken. They run a school providing educational opportunities to the poor and described to us that it’s the most capable students who are the most likely to illegally immigrate to America. Why?

    1) Guatemala is inordinately influenced by the cartels and corrupt politicians. Capable students don’t get jobs, the family of the powerful do. Good students want an opportunity to earn according to their merit.

    2) The legal process is backed up by something like 7 years. I don’t remember if she said it was the American embassy, the Guatemalan government, or a combination of both, but what intelligent graduate in the prime of their life wants to suffer another 7 years in corrupt poverty under the unpleasantness of the cartels for a lottery ticket’s chance at legal citizenship in America?

    The missionary and her husband scooped up a bright orphan boy when he was a toddler, and for something like 12 years now they have tried unsuccessfully to have him officially adopted. Without adoption he can’t legally come to America to visit his adopted grandparents. The adoption request hasn’t been turned down… it’s just never happened. Once the lawyer they hired took their money and disappeared. Another time a judge canceled their appointment at the last minute with no explanation. I can’t remember all the other details, but that gives an indication. Just… corruption.

    So her own de facto adopted son can’t even visit America legally. He’s a bright high schooler who loves science and wins medals on the swim team. She would love that he could go to college in America, but until he’s officially adopted, that’s not looking likely.

    This is the conversation I have with people who are concerned about the border. I don’t think it’s wrong to be concerned about people breaking in to a place without permission. That’s a normal healthy reaction. What they aren’t informed about is what the (lack of a) system looks like in the countries the people are coming from.

    An while her story is important, but it isn’t the whole story. It’s often wrong to generalize from one anecdote. Do we like the fact that hard drugs are being smuggled across the border into our country? I don’t. Is that a factor in border policy? Absolutely. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to know everyone’s intentions nor balance all the factors with policy.

    But we can all aspire to not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

    Kind regards,

  19. P. Aitch 2023-05-16

    @David Bergen – “Breaking into my house” is an annoying and inaccurate premise.
    – In the eyes of the discriminating class, migrants are nothing more than intruders, invaders of their seemingly “exclusive” homestead. But in reality, they are merely seeking a chance at a better life, a shot at the American dream. To treat them as anything less than human is a testament to the narrow-mindedness that plagues our society.
    – The irony, of course, is that the ancestors of the oppressors who think this way, were once migrants themselves, seeking refuge from oppression and persecution. The very foundation of our country is built upon the notion of diversity, that all are created equal and have the right to pursue happiness. To deny this to anyone is to spit in the face of the founding values of this great nation.
    – So let us not expel them, jail them, or discriminate against them. Instead, let us open our hearts and our borders, for only through compassion and understanding can we hope to build a better future for all.

  20. All Mammal 2023-05-16

    P. Aitch- I like the way you said that. It reminds me how we never hear California complain or bus immigrants to their critic’s doorstep. And for Abbott and Deskanktits to use human beings as props to prove a point to NYC about how unfairly their states are inundated with immigrants is preposterous. They must have never heard of the isles of Ellis or Angel.

    Like my friends above have alluded to, it is just plain wrong to dub refuge seekers as illegal or alien. That is dehumanizing. I have never heard of a law on the books called ‘emigrating to another country’ or ‘visiting family in The USA’ or ‘mother gave birth in undesirable location’.

    If we throw ‘illegal immigrants’ into our department of corrections, we are the bastards who have it all wrong because there is no way to possibly ‘correct’ our birthplace.

  21. Mike Lee Zitterich 2023-05-17

    Deregulate and allow more HOME DAYCARESA. we used to have a home daycare abd we had 15 kids at obe time from 1984 to 1993. I learned how to baby sit babies, toddlers, children by age 7. We always charged $60/kid per work and 10% discount per each addiotnal kid. It was fun. I have always been known as a role model for kids thanks to this. Spend ad much time witg as many kids ad I can cause kids our future. Maybe I should do it again, a home daycare. Only for republican families though.

  22. larry kurtz 2023-05-17

    Teach those critters how to heat sandwiches on the exhaust manifold between shifts at Smithfield.

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