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FirstEnergy first to abandon interim clean-energy goals for addressing climate change; the body of an 11-year-old Texas girl who disappeared on her way to school has been found in a river; and Indiana youth reported to be making progress despite challenges.

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The U.S. rejects a U.N. resolution on Israel-Gaza ceasefire, but proposes a different one. Some Democrats vote against Biden to protest his policy on Gaza and a California woman is being held in Russia.

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Drones over West Texas aim to improve rural healthcare, the Ogallala Aquifer, the backbone of High Plains agriculture, is slowly disappearing and federal money is headed to growers of wool and cotton.

Child care 'solution-driven' grants take shape in SD

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Friday, November 24, 2023   

Child care access has become a major focal point in the U.S., and South Dakota is no exception.

More than two dozen communities are using grant money to come up with local solutions in hopes of expanding options for families. Earlier this week, the governor's office announced more than $1 million in funding will be shared by 28 economic development groups around the state.

Nancy Wenande, CEO of grant recipient Yankton Thrive, welcomed having more resources to help map out a strategy geared for her community.

"Yankton is one of the many communities that has a lot of manufacturing," Wenande explained. "We know we already have a shortage of early morning or evening or weekend child care. So, we're going to be taking a look at are there options there, that we can help fill those gaps."

Wenande pointed out based on local information gathering, Yankton is short around 700 day care spots, forcing some people to stay home with their kids instead of working. The grant program has two phases; a first round focused on planning, and a second in which funding will be provided for implementation of ideas.

Wenande acknowledged low wages for child care staff are a big part of the problem. Whether it is additional help from the state or local planning, she argued sustainability should be the driving force behind any model.

"One-time dollars coming in might help you build a building, or they might help you start a program," Wenande acknowledged. "But if you can't financially sustain that program as well as affordable options for those needing the services, you're really not going to make any progress."

The state is using American Rescue Plan funding to administer the grants. State officials said they had an overwhelming number of applications, suggesting child care access is a critical issue in most South Dakota towns and cities.


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