Advocacy Project on Children-at-Risk
South Dakota has children who are at risk of hunger and poverty, uninsured health problems, violence, ... These unmet needs in childhood are tragic now and sometimes exact an even heavier toll later. To help Christians speak up on issues that impact the lives of these children, the Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota has an email advocacy network during the state legislature (mid-Jan to mid-March). Phone calls or emails will be most needed during the fast-moving legislature. Sometimes there is time for letters, but not as often.
Children need voices in Pierre. If you, are concerned about children and poverty and are willing to speak up when legislation affects them, then you are needed in this network.
If you will help, you can get in on the action by emailing your name & address to:
(This network is combined with the Bread for the World-SD email network during the Legislature.)
2014 STate-Level Priorities for Children-at-Risk
The Board of the Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota
Roughly 78,000 South Dakota children (40%) are in low-income families, with over 33,000 of them below federal poverty lines. [ACS 2011] Poverty robs children and all of society of health, learning, and productivity. Even short spells of poverty or parental unemployment can scar children and youth for many years. Long-term, the costs of poverty will rise.
1. Improve family income.
Of South Dakota's loe-income children, 86% have at least one employed parent. Low incomes leave parents, despite their best efforts, without the ability to provide basic necessities for their children and reduce the time they are available to supervise and nurture them. The $7.25 minimum wage has not beeen adjusted for inflation since July 2009. South Dakota's median hourly wage is 4th lowest in the nation. 
2. Improve the condition of children in extreme need, such as those in the TANF program (Temporary Assistance too Needy Families).
The current buying power of TANF's maximum cash assistance remains at only 36% of the poverty level. Some families must pay full housing costs from these TANF payments. Furtunately, South Dakota has given cost-of-living adjustments to TANF payments. To meet basic needs of impoverished children, TANF payments should be raised to be closer to actual need. Current average: $416/mo per family [Aug'13]
3. The Unemployment system could better help working families.
Only 19% of SD's registered unemployed workers received unemployment checks last year.[FY'13] Worker-friendly changes to benefits and eligibility would better help families manage through very stressful times. Benefits should be available when workers are ready to return to work after job losses resulting from temporary health problems, family caregiving responsibilities, and moves to keep families together during job relocations.
4. All Children and their parents should have access to health coverage.
Progress in covering South Dakota children has been significant. As yet, South Dakota has not seized the opportunity to expand Medicaid so low-income uninsured parents can be covered also. Expanding Medicaid would help ensure that parents do not have to choose between the need for their healthcare and the other basic needs of the family.
5. Support Enriching Childcare and After-School and Youth Programs.
South Dakota has the highest percentage of families with both parents working outside the home. Quality childcare, early childhood education, and after-school activities are high pay-back investments.They require maximum cooperation among government, churches and other community organizations. The state should restore eligiblity for childcare assistance that was cut as part of its 2012 budget cuts.
6. Remove sales tax from groceries and utilities.
Inadequate diets and cold houses threaten the happy, healthy childhoods we envision for all children. In these economic times, family budgets are stressed. A helpful response by the state would be to end, or even reduce, the tax on food and home heating bills. The sales tax on food and utilities contribute to hunger in South Dakota.
7. End Predatory Lending.
High interest, fees, and rollover costs on loans can trap families in untenable situations, sapping their ability to provide for their children. Limits are needed.
8. End Video Lottery.
The addictive nature of this type of gambling has been ruinous for many South Dakota families, both financially and emotionally.
The Association supports these priorities
and invites all South Dakotans to work to improve conditions for vulnerable children.
"Let us sit down together and see what life we will make for our children." -Sitting Bull
Association of Christian Churches of South Dakota, PO Box 2104, Sioux Falls SD 57101