South Dakota Department of Social Services

A student walks home from the Pine Ridge High School through the skate park in Pine Ridge on Aug. 28, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

A story told in data: Overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the SD foster care system

BY: - November 17, 2023

Native American children are overrepresented in South Dakota’s child welfare system — accounting for nearly 74% of foster children in the state at the end of fiscal year 2023, despite making up 13% of the state’s child population. That means Indigenous children have a 22% chance of being removed from their families and placed in […]

A girl learns to hoop dance during the South Dakota Urban Indian Health summer culture camp in Sisseton. (Courtesy of SDUIH)

Cultural connection for Native foster children in South Dakota is lacking, foster parents say

BY: and - November 16, 2023

Jennifer Johnson wondered if her boys hated her. She and her husband fostered and adopted the three brothers — all under 3 years old — in the early 2000s. The couple provided a safe, stable and loving home for the children, she recalled, but it seemed like the boys would try to sabotage their relationships […]

Christian Banley sits in front of her Aberdeen home on Aug. 23, 2023. Banley’s parental rights for two daughters were terminated earlier in the summer. (Samantha Laurey/Argus Leader)

‘Waiting for life to start again’: Family agonizes over parental termination

BY: and - November 8, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story mentions mental health issues. If you need help or know someone who does, please call 988, the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, available 24/7 for free and confidential support.  Home is Christian Banley’s purgatory. The tan, unassuming clapboard house with a sagging awning and an overgrown front yard sits across the […]

Jessica Eagle Star helps her son Noran across the monkey bars at the park in Winner on Aug. 29, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

The Lost Children: Overrepresentation of Native American children in the SD foster care system

BY: and - November 6, 2023

South Dakota officials have known Native American children are overrepresented in the foster care system for nearly 50 years. The Indian Child Welfare Act, a 1978 federal law, was meant to tackle the problem not just in the state but across the country at a time when Native children were regularly removed from their families. […]

(Getty Images)

54,000 South Dakotans disenrolled in Medicaid unwind; 52,000 expected to be eligible with expansion

BY: - July 26, 2023

Roughly 54,000 South Dakotans have lost Medicaid coverage since the end of pandemic protections in March. At the same time, 52,000 South Dakotans are estimated to be eligible for enrollment in a voter-approved Medicaid expansion that took effect on July 1, state officials told legislators at an appropriations meeting Wednesday in Pierre. Voters approved the […]

(Daria Nipot/Getty Images)

Legislative committee approves changes to child care licensing rules

BY: - June 13, 2023

The Legislative Rules Review Committee approved new rules Tuesday for child care licensing from the Department of Social Services meant to address a severe child care shortage in the state. The new rules cut training hours for child care center providers in half and allow providers to care for more children at once than laid […]

Kerri Tietgen, center, the CEO of EmBe in Sioux Falls, speaks during a hearing on proposed changes to South Dakota's rules for child care providers. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Early childhood groups come out against proposed daycare rules

BY: - May 12, 2023

Child care organizations came out in force on Friday against looser rules for daycares that would let adults care for more children at once. The pushback came even as some daycare providers lauded the changes as “actionable” steps to address what they described as the state’s child care crisis. Among other adjustments, the proposal from […]

(Getty Images)

22,000 South Dakotans could lose Medicaid now, about half could get it back later, state says

BY: - April 18, 2023

Roughly 22,000 South Dakota Medicaid recipients are “likely to be ineligible” in the coming months as pandemic protections expire, but perhaps half of them could qualify again in July when a voter-approved expansion takes effect, Deputy Director of Medical Services Sarah Aker told the state Board of Social Services at its Tuesday meeting. The decline […]

(Darwin Brandis/iStock Getty Images Plus)

How South Dakota will spend the first of $54 million from national opioid settlements

BY: - April 3, 2023

South Dakota received over $3.5 million from a national opioid lawsuit settlement in the last few months — the beginning of over $54 million delivered to the state in the next two decades. Now, the state, cities and counties are figuring out how to spend that money, focusing on opioid addiction treatment, prevention and education. […]

(Getty Images)

Proposed child care licensing changes cut required training in half

BY: - January 17, 2023

Child care providers’ annual training requirements would be cut in half, based on proposed changes to child care licensing standards by the state Department of Social Services. Gov. Kristi Noem has made child care one of her leading priorities in her second term, addressing the issue in her State of the State speech earlier this […]