Part Four: The Cost of Universal Preschool, Words from an Expert

dsslogoFor the final installment of my four part series on universal preschool, I visited with Patricia Monson, Division Director for the South Dakota Division of Child Care Services
The Division of Child Care Services provides assistance to low-income families who need help with child care costs while parents work or attend school. They also provide oversight, technical assistance and support in promoting safe, healthy and caring environments for children through licensing, registration and quality improvement activities.

The questions listed below are based on the assumption that further execution of President Obama’s Early Education for All initiative from his 2013 State of the Union Address will continue to be implemented.  It is also important to note that Hilary Clinton’s platform includes a ten year universal preschool plan.  I was able to visit with Patricia Monson, the Division Director for the South Dakota Department of Child Care Services about her predictions for universal pre-k for the state of South Dakota.

Hi Patricia, I have a few questions regarding the possible implementation of universal preschool in South Dakota.  I wanted to know if there has been any discussion from the licensing office of how this might be implemented.  I understand that a formal plan probably has not been created, and so many of your answers may be predictions on what you feel will be likely given your knowledge and experience of South Dakota child care licensing. I realize that some of your answers may be conjecture, or maybe there has been some preliminary discussion going on at the state level that you wouldn’t mind sharing.

  1. Do you see universal preschool being implemented in South Dakota in the near future? If so, what is the timeline? (5 years, 10 years?) 

Patricia: I don’t have any indication that universal preschool will be implemented in the near future in South Dakota.

  1. If South Dakota decides (or is mandated by the government) to implement universal preschool, do you think current child care providers will have input on new legislation? 

Patricia: As with any new legislation, the public always has opportunities for input.

  1. Because you are so familiar with the way new legislation is implemented in South Dakota, in your opinion do you think our state will adopt a grandfathering in of CDA certified teachers to continue teaching, or do you think South Dakota will push for lead teachers to be certified and hold bachelor’s degrees?

Patricia: This would depend on how the legislation was written and would be an area where you would want to provide input, if it is a concern.

4. Any additional comments?

Patricia: It seems most of the initiatives regarding preschool have been at the local level, such as the Starting Strong program in Rapid City.  I have not heard anything regarding universal pre-k legislation for South Dakota.

I really appreciate Patricia taking the time to share her knowledge of what is going on in the Child Care Services Office in South Dakota.  I do want to stress the importance of awareness for those in our field.  Our local ECE offices and the licensing agencies always get information out to us when new legislation is being considered.  It is vitally important to take part in the webinars, the round table discussions, and to be aware of what is being considered in Pierre.  Form an opinion, share it with others, and most importantly vote!

As always, thank you for reading Education Plantation.  I hope you will take the information provided here to your staff, your community, and your professional organizations.  We all have to be advocates for early childhood education.

If you wish you can leave a comment here or email me at We need to communicate and give feedback on what is practical for our state.

Part One: The Cost of Universal Preschool, Examining School Districts

Part Two: The Cost of Universal Preschool, What Works, and What Doesn’t

Part Three: The Cost of Universal Preschool, Implications of Implementation

Part Four: The Cost of Universal Preschool, Words from an Expert


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