Become a First Steps 4K Provider - SC First Steps

Become a First Steps 4K Provider

South Carolina First Steps partners with licensed child care centers, private schools and charter schools to provide high-quality four-year-old kindergarten programs that prepare South Carolina's children for success in kindergarten and beyond.

When you partner with First Steps 4K, you become part of our mission to ensure that all children start school ready to reach their highest potential. In return, we provide the funding, resources, and support you and your staff need to meet our high-quality standards. The benefits include:

  • Student tuition. Providers receive up to $9,904 per child per year.
  • $20,000 grant for materials and supplies with 7+ First Steps 4K students.
  • A dedicated 4K coach to support you and your teachers.
  • 90 hours of free, high-quality professional development for teachers.
  • Transportation reimbursement of $657 per child per year.
  • Research-based curricula and materials.
  • Education opportunities and support for directors and small business owners.
  • Access to a statewide network of First Steps 4K providers.
  • Assistance with marketing and outreach, road sign and outdoor banner included.

First Steps 4K New Provider Interest Sessions

Are you a DSS-licensed center and have been operating for at least one year? OR are you a non-profit independent school?  If yes, you may be eligible to partner with First Steps 4K. 

Join Martha Strickland, 4K State Director, and First Steps 4K Team members to learn about the opportunities of providing a 4K classroom through our state’s Child Early Reading and Development Education Program (CERDEP) funding. 

Interest Sessions for the 2025-2026 school year will begin October 2024.

Feel free to reach out to Samantha Ingram, 4K Outreach Coordinator, for additional information about becoming a First Steps 4K provider.

First Steps 4K New Provider Application

All private (non-school district) preschool providers interested in participating in the SC Child Early Reading Development and Education Program (CERDEP) are encouraged to attend an interest session and complete a New Provider application this fall.

All applicants are required to participate in a First Steps 4K New Provider Interest session. It is also important that you familiarize yourself with the requirements outlined in the First Steps 4K Guidelines.

Schools can apply to partner with First Steps 4K for the 2025-2026 school year starting October 2024.

Questions? Contact Martha Strickland, 4K State Director, at (803) 734-0247.

Support Provided for First Steps 4K Providers


Grant funding available for materials and supplies


Number of hours of free, high-quality professional development for teachers


Value of provided research-based curircula, materials and trainings

Hear from Our Partners

We are able to provide free tuition and free transportation door-to-door for families of four-year-olds who will eventually leave us and go to big school.

- Little Smurf Child Development Center, Andrews, SC

We’re able have a lending library for our students because of all the books provided by First Steps 4K. Not everybody has lots of books at home and with First Steps 4K, we’re not worried about the students returning them because we know we can receive as many as we need to serve our students. 

- MEGA Child Development Center, Gilbert, SC