Like a lot of mothers, North Dakota state Rep. Emily O’Brien struggled to find infant care when her daughter was born in 2019. Not long after, O’Brien persuaded her colleagues to back a plan to invest $66 million in child care, an unprecedented sum for a state that had, like others with Republican leadership, long resisted such spending.

In 2021, Congress passed 24 billion dollars of pandemic aid for child care businesses. Now, as that aid dries up, some states are embracing plans to support child care.

GOP resistance to child care spending dates to the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon vetoed a bill to establish a national child care system, invoking fears of communism. Resistance persists in many parts of the country. While North Dakota passed ground-breaking measures to support child care, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said she opposes spending state dollars to help families pay for child care.

Noem said she is not willing to directly subsidize child care for families, adding that she doesn’t think it’s the government’s job to pay or to raise people’s children for them. Her comments came just days before the State’s largest child care provider, Apple Tree, announced it would close its doors in Sioux Falls. Neither Noem, nor any other South Dakota Legislative leader, have proposed a solution to the State’s current child care crises.