2022 Legislative Session: Children’s Well-Being Bills

April 2022

The 2022 South Dakota Legislative Session wrapped up at the end of March. Legislators introduced 553 bills, the highest number of bills considered in the last five sessions. South Dakota KIDS COUNT developed a Legislative Tracker for Children’s Well-Being Bills and monitored the progress of 36 bills related to child and family well-being.

Child Care and Early Childhood Education

Despite increased interest to support child care across South Dakota, no bills passed to improve access and affordability of child care. Child care is a significant expense for South Dakota families. Full-time infant care at a licensed provider costs as much as in-state tuition at the University of South Dakota. This means paying between $7,020 and $9,830 per year to send an infant to full-time care. Child care businesses often sacrifice worker pay to balance the actual cost of care with what parents can afford. Median yearly income for child care workers is only $21,610 if working full time. South Dakota needs innovative, long-term solutions to build a better child care system that works for children, parents, and businesses.

Three proactive bills related to early childhood education were proposed but did not pass.

Juvenile Criminal Legal System

The juvenile criminal legal system was a topic with increased interest for policy proposals during the 2022 session. The last major reform of the juvenile criminal legal system in South Dakota was during the 2015 legislative session when the Juvenile Justice Public Safety Improvement Act passed. The reform from 2015 expanded the use of diversion programs and the availability of community-based services to keep youth in their community and connected to resources. Diversions have increased across the state and the success rate of diversions has also improved. Most youth (88 percent) in diversion programs do not re-offend.

Legislators brought forward two bills related to juvenile justice during the session.

The Executive Board of the South Dakota legislature identified juvenile criminal legal reform as a topic to study during the interim. Interim committee members for the study will be determined later in April.

Education Equity

Legislators introduced five bills related to education equity that supported more inclusive education environments for American Indian students. Sponsors and proponents of these bills cited the disparities that exist for Black, Indigenous, and children of color for educational outcomes in South Dakota. These disparities are a product of generations of discrimination, chronically underfunded programs promised as part of Native American treaties with the U.S. federal government, and lack of cultural representation in public schools. None of the five bills passed during the session.