Who We Are - SC First Steps

Who We Are

For 25 years, First Steps has worked collaboratively to ensure that all children start school ready to reach their highest potential with engaged support from their parents, caregivers, and communities.

First Steps was established in 1999 by the South Carolina General Assembly to close the opportunity gap for our state's youngest learners. Since the beginning, we have taken a holistic approach to accomplishing our mission, offering services that improve children’s health, strengthen families, expand access to quality early care and education, and help transition rising kindergartners into school.

As both a state agency and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we leverage public and private resources to deliver proven programs and innovative strategies that improve early childhood development and school readiness.

  • Through a network of 46 local partnerships, we provide services in the areas of health, parenting, early care and education, and school transition. 
  • First Steps 4K provides free full-day four-year-old kindergarten to qualifying children in licensed child care centers, private schools, and charter schools.
  • In our role as the connector and convener of all early childhood serving agencies, we operate the Early Childhood Advisory Council, a collaborative body representing the state's early childhood system.


Adopted in July 2020 by the South Carolina First Steps Board of Trustees, Every Child Ready is a roadmap for achieving our mission and moving toward our vision of success for every child. This five-year strategic plan includes four strategic priorities, 20 objectives, 97 strategies, and 6 overarching measures of success. Collectively, they represent our commitment to South Carolina’s children, their families, and our state. Access the plan here.