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West Coast immigrants' rights groups pan President Trump’s new immigration proposal as “elitist.” Also on the Friday rundown: Consumer advocates want stronger energy-efficiency standards. And we'll take you to a state that ranks near the bottom for senior mental health.

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Advocates: South Dakota Needs More Foster Families

As of 2016, South Dakota had 1,400 kids in foster care. (
As of 2016, South Dakota had 1,400 kids in foster care. (
May 31, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Family First Prevention Services Act passed by Congress earlier this year acknowledged the growing need for more foster parents - who are being honored today.

The new law provides more funding for programs such as parenting classes, substance abuse treatment and mental health services. In many states, the shortage is due to the nationwide opioid crisis. But Kevin Kanta, program specialist with the state's Child Protection Service office, said drug addiction of a different kind is causing the problem in South Dakota.

"In South Dakota, we don't see opiates as much as we see methamphetamines,” Kanta said. “Methamphetamine is a growing issue for us here in South Dakota. It's a difficult drug to deal with."

Today is National Foster Parent Appreciation Day. For more information about South Dakota's foster care program, go to

Kanta said while foster parent issues in South Dakota are different in each community, the state is working to meet the needs of those communities by implementing a blended learning model that allows in-person and online training to make it easier for foster parents to get their licenses.

"There's a shortage statewide,” he said; “although the greatest need is for Native American families, families who can care for sibling groups, teenagers and children with medical needs."

Jaia Lent, deputy executive director with Generations United, added that with additional children being cared for by grandparents or extended family outside the foster care system, it's more important than ever to support those caregivers.

"The positive news about relying on relatives is that we know that children actually do better when they are placed with supported relatives versus non-relatives,” Lent said.

As of 2016, South Dakota had 1,400 kids in foster care, and there are 438,000 nationwide.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD