First 1000 Days (Pregnancy = 270 days, Year 1 = 365 Days, Year 2 = 365 Days)

The first 1000 days of life, from conception to 24 months, form a crucial period that shapes a child’s entire life. How well a mother and child are nourished and cared for during this time has a profound impact on physical, emotional, and mental growth and development. This is critical because the first 1000 days are when a child’s brain begins to grow and develop and where the foundations are laid for lifelong health.

The first 1000 days of life are key to lifelong health and well-being.

Research in the fields of neuroscience, biology, and early childhood development has given powerful insight into how nutrition, relationships, behaviors, and environments in the 1000 days shape future outcomes. 

For instance, poor nutrition in the first 1000 days can cause irreversible damage to a child’s growing brain, affecting the future by impacting how well a child will do in school and beyond to employment opportunities. It can also set the stage for later obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases which can lead to a lifetime of health problems. And can contribute to the next generation’s cycle of poverty and poor health and behavioral outcomes. 

Other examples are drug use, alcohol or tobacco use, poor health environments, sexually transmitted infections, lack of prenatal care and well-child visits (to identify early any issues of concern and support appropriately), abuse of the mother or child, and poor safe sleep practices are among the potential levers of negative impact during this time as well.

South Dakota recognizes the important impact of nutrition, relationships, behaviors, and environments during this time on physical, emotional, and mental development. Despite challenges, such as increased maternal and infant mortality, particularly among Native American communities, South Dakota is committed to a comprehensive statewide effort. This initiative includes programs like SD QuitLine, STI Testing, Pregnancy Care, WIC, Safe Sleep Education, and more, addressing critical aspects of maternal and child health from conception through early development.

Download the First 1000 Days Informational Handout

SD State Agency Services

Bright Start's free personal nurse visiting program offers support, advice, and information to eligible moms during pregnancy and until the child turns 2.

Learn About the Bright Start Program

South Dakota Pregnancy Care Program (perinatal services) — Monthly visits with a nurse to provide education and support throughout pregnancy and after childbirth.

Find Information on the Pregnancy Care Program

The Family Planning Program provides services to help women and men determine if and when they want to have a child. The program helps keep people healthy and protects their ability to have children in the future.

Learn about the Family Planning Program

The purpose of newborn screening is to detect potentially fatal or disabling conditions and birth defects in newborns as early as possible before the infant displays any signs or symptoms of a disease or condition.

Learn More About the Newborn Screening Program

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for eligible women, infants, and children. Provides nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding support (information & breast pumps perinatal education), healthy foods, referral to doctors, nurses, health and social service agencies, and immunizations if needed.

Learn about WIC

The Safe Sleep Education Program provides safe sleep recommendations and education to healthcare providers, new and expecting parents, and families to ensure everyone caring for the baby uses safe sleep practices to reduce the risk of death.

Find Information & Resources About Safe Sleep

The Pack ‘N Play Distribution Program provides safe sleep environments through pack ‘n play distribution for qualifying families.

Learn About Pack ‘N Play Distribution

The Immunization Program ensures infants and children stay up to date on routine immunizations. This is one of the best ways to protect children from childhood vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in the first 1000 days of life.

Learn About our Immunization Program 

Fluoride varnish is applied in DOH offices to protect baby teeth and promote oral health.

Find Information on Fluoride Varnish

STI Testing and Treatment provides recommendations and education on STI testing and treatment for pregnant women to healthcare providers. Free and confidential STI testing within Department of Health offices is offered.

Learn about STI Testing and Treatment

SD QuitLine offers 3 options (phone coaching, kickstart kit, quit guide) to help nicotine users (cigarettes, vape, or chew) kick their habit. The Quitline also offers a Postpartum Program designed specifically to help pregnant women quit. 

Second and Third-Hand Smoke Education(DOH) provides education and awareness on the dangers of second and third-hand smoke. 

South Dakota Medicaid – (DSS) provides prenatal and postpartum (12-mos) coverage for all pregnant mothers who are enrolled. In addition, it provides well-child and health maintenance exams through its reimbursement mechanisms to healthcare providers involved in delivering health care to mothers and children, who are enrolled in the program.

SNAP/TANF/Child Care Assistance – (DSS) provides economic assistance to income-qualified families to receive these benefits.

Child Safety Seat Distribution Program – (DSS) This program distributes child seats to income-eligible parents and children statewide, by assessing financial need.

Pregnancy Health Home – (DSS) provides additional support in the form of care coordination to all pregnant mothers who are enrolled in Medicaid.

Plans of Safe Care – (DSS) provides accompaniment and accountability for pregnant mothers struggling with substance use disorder. This includes funding for those who are income-qualified who participate in residential and/or community-based treatment programs.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse – (DSS) Funds treatment programs for pregnant women and women with dependent children.

Mental Health – (DSS) Provides a variety of services including medical, social, educational, vocational, and other support services necessary to meet basic human needs. Services are available through Community Mental Health Centers.

Child Protection Services – (DSS) ensures that children who are born into unsafe conditions are provided resourcing which aims to reunify parents with the child once parents can demonstrate their ability to care safely for their infant.

Child Care Assistance Program – (DSS) The program will help pay child care costs to providers who meet certain criteria. The family may be required to make a co-payment based on the household income and family size.

Child Support – (DSS) helps parents establish a financial partnership to support their children when they do not live together. Child support staff help locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity, establish or modify child support and medical support orders, enforce support orders, and collect and process support payments.

Safe Havens – (DSS) South Dakota law allows a parent to deliver an infant 60 days of age or younger, who has not been harmed, to an emergency medical services provider* or a licensed child placement agency with the intent of relinquishing permanent custody of the infant. The law is referred to as the Baby Moses law and the specific statute is SDCL 25-5A-27 through 25-5A-35, found at SDCL 25-5A. (*licensed health care facility or clinic, a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, or an emergency medical technician.)

Adoptions and adoption resources – (DSS) The goal of adoption is to provide a child with a "forever family," which could be a relative or a non-related family.