South Dakota High School Pathways


  • Professional Learning

South Dakota

Starting in fall 2023, students in South Dakota will have the opportunity to work toward a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential while pursuing a high school diploma. This program was designed to create a new pipeline of qualified educators who can help alleviate a staffing shortage in early education programs across the state. Students will participate in online or in-person coursework and complete at least 480 hours of supervised work in an early education program. A CDA credential typically costs about $800, but high school students will be able to obtain it for free. This program derives from recommendations generated by the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative and is administered through a partnership between Educators Rising SD, the South Dakota Department of Social Services, Sanford CHILD Services, and the federal Department of Education Head Start Collaboration Office.


Huber, M. (2023, July 12). South Dakota High School Course Trains Students to Become Child Care Workers. The 74.

Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative. (2023). Community Childcare Initiative Final Report.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning,Professional learning: Learning and support activities (e.g., coaching) that help develop educators’ competencies and skills. compensation, and workplace conditions.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living
Learn more about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about South Dakota

Context matters. Visit the South Dakota profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the South Dakota profile here
  • The state population is 909,824
  • The number of children age 0-4 is 58,668
  • The rural percentage is 42.8%