Gov. Kristi Noem, legislators announce $15M effort for Stronger Families scholarship fund
Lawmakers introduced a bill together Tuesday that, if signed into law, would create a $15 million scholarship fund in a three-year pilot program for children in foster care to receive scholarships up to $4,000 for a variety of K-12 education expenses.
Eligible scholarship expenses include tuition and fees to private schools, tutoring or teaching services, purchases of curriculum and instructional materials, tuition and fees for online learning, fees for exams and tests, technology purposes and transportation to and from public school if they open-enroll, or if that district doesn’t provide transportation for the student.
Sen. Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen), Sen. Liz Larson (D-Sioux Falls), Sen. John Wiik (R-Big Stone City), Sen. Larry Zikmund (R-Sioux Falls) and Rep. Carl Perry (R-Aberdeen) all signed on to Senate Bill 100 together.
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“Children in foster care face disparate educational outcomes compared to their peers,” Novstrup said in a press release from the governor’s office. “These scholarships will allow these children to access key services and resources that wouldn’t be available to them otherwise.”
Gov. Kristi Noem proposed the legislation in her State of the State address earlier this month, and teased it in her budget address. She said in a press release Tuesday the scholarship program will help improve educational outcomes and stability for children in foster care.
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“Foster children go through such difficult, traumatic, and disruptive events that often interrupt their ability to achieve a high-quality education,” Noem said. “The new Stronger Families Scholarship will equip these children with access to consistent resources and relationships that are critical to healthy academic development.”
Clarification: An earlier version of this article stated Rep. Kadyn Wittman had signed onto SB 100. The Argus Leader was later informed by Wittman that was a clerical issue on the South Dakota Legislative Research Council website, and that she doesn't support the legislation. The story has been updated to reflect this change.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Noem, legislators announce effort for $15M Stronger Families scholarships