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South Dakota

Our key ally and grantee in South Dakota, the South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children (SDAEYC), works through Early Learner South Dakota to advocate at the local and state level to improve policy for early care and education in the state. Early Learner South Dakota’s vision is that all children have access to high-quality early learning experiences and environments to create a solid foundation for lifelong success.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 35% (38,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 42% (47,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Declining 

On March 20, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem completed signing bills that comprise the state’s fiscal 2024 budget into law. The budget calls for $7.39 billion in total spending in fiscal 2024, a 6.3 percent increase from the budgeted amount for fiscal 2023 (the fiscal 2023 amount includes $427.0 million in emergency special appropriations and $181.5 million in continuous appropriations/transfers). The budget assumes $2.28 billion in general fund spending in fiscal 2024, a 1.1 percent decline from the fiscal 2023 revised level. Total general fund receipts are estimated to decline 5.8 percent compared to fiscal 2023’s revised forecast.3

Key Revenue Sources:

    • State Sales Tax (4.5%)

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.4

Types of Ballot Measures Available:5  Five

    • Legislature-initiated state statute: Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-initiated initiated state statute: Earns a spot on the ballot when sponsors collect signatures according to the laws governing the initiative process in South Dakota.
    • Legislature-initiated constitutional amendment: A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-initiated constitutional amendment: An amendment to a state’s constitution that comes about through the initiative process.
    • Veto referendum – When citizens of South Dakota disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.

Key State Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

There were a few bills that were signed into law that improved the health and safety of children, specifically as it relates to the preventions of ACEs. Advocates continue to work for prioritization of crucial early childhood issues.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

HB 1161 – Advocates defeated a bill that would increase the staff-to-child ratio in child care settings.

Task Force Leadership – Early Learner South Dakota and the Economic Development Professionals Association will co-chair a multi-year child-care taskforce that has legislative support. 

SB 6 – An act to authorize community response teams to recommend alternative community-based resources for children alleged to be in need of supervision prior to adjudication.

SB 70 – Legislation that revises provisions related to courtroom modifications for child witnesses and allows judges to modify courtroom to be less traumatizing for a child. 

SB 75: Requires father and mother of child born out of wedlock to pay reasonable expenses related to pregnancy and birth of child.

Advocates also pursued—though unsuccessfully—two bills related to Indigenous youth. HB 1229 sought to codify in state law some of the protections of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, which is under threat from a pending Supreme Court ruling. While neighboring states Montana and North Dakota have been successful in this strategy, the South Dakota bill did not advance. SB 191 would have created a task force related to the welfare of Indigenous children. This bill passed the senate, but not the house. 


2023 Grantee Policy Agenda:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in South Dakota, South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

K-3rd Grade

Child and
Maternal Health


Early Childhood Infrastructure

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.


Alliance Allies in South Dakota Launch Game-Changing Child Care Supply Maps

In another example of the Alliance Effect, Alliance allies Early Learner South Dakota (an initiative of the South Dakota AEYC) and the Committee for Economic Development have partnered to design a comprehensive set of statewide interactive early care and education program data maps to address South Dakota’s historical challenge of having very little publicly available child care supply and demand information.

Read More »


1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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South Dakota
South Dakota

More State Demographic Data:

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South Dakota