News & Resources

First Steps 4K: Preparing for statewide expansion

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With First Steps 4K, families are in the driver’s seat. They choose the program that best meets their needs. Families can enroll their child in any of the 244 private, nonprofit, or faith-based child care centers or schools participating in the program. The majority of First Steps 4K providers offer 8-hour day and year-round instruction, including summers, which is at no cost to parents.

South Carolina First Steps awards $17,664,476 in grants to support children’s healthy development and school readiness

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South Carolina First Steps has awarded its largest funding amount in more than 15 years - $17,664,476 in grants to its network of 46 local First Steps partnerships. A combination of state, federal and private dollars, the funds will directly impact more than 30,000 children and will expand parenting programs, increase the quality of child care, support positive transitions between early childhood and elementary school, and improve the health of South Carolina’s youngest citizens.

4K education expands to all parts of South Carolina

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"I’ve seen my child excel, extremely," Stanley said. "I have seen so much growth, and she’s happy. And she’s willing to learn because she’s wanting to learn. She loves to come to school. When there’s a day out, she wonders why she can’t come to school. And that speaks volumes for this program." "When I would ask her ‘What did you learn today,' she can regurgitate everything that she learned," Stanley said. "And she’s excited about learning and that makes a difference in this age."

Lowcountry parents have another option for early education

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The search for more comprehensive childcare just got a little easier. South Carolina First Steps just announced it is now able to offer free, full day, four-year-old kindergarten anywhere in the state. The First Steps 4K program started to provide Pre-K programming for families only living in high poverty areas. “Because of a change in legislation we can now offer 4K statewide,” South Carolina First Steps Executive Director Georgia Mjartan said. “The General Assembly followed the vision of Governor Henry McMaster to make this amazing curriculum-driven, full day, full year program for 4-year-olds available to all 4-year-olds who qualify.”

Thousands of SC Children are Now Eligible for Free Four-Year-Old Kindergarten

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Thousands of children now have access to state-funded, full day, four-year-old kindergarten (4K) after South Carolina’s General Assembly allocated $37M to South Carolina First Steps and the SC Department of Education, supporting Governor Henry McMaster’s and the legislature’s vison for 4K statewide expansion. This increase in funding will allow over 4,000 children to enroll in First Steps 4K. Prior to this historic decision, 41% of SC’s at-risk four-year-olds lived in a zip code that disqualified them from full-day, state-funded 4K.

Your Voice Matters - 4K Families

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The First Steps 4K Family Survey was administered via email from May 18 through June 1, 2021 in English and Spanish. There were 89 total respondents, of which 1 (<1%) completed it in Spanish. The survey was sent to 2,149 parents/caregivers of 4K students (4% response rate).

B-5 High Level Data by Census Tract

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South Carolina Birth through Five High Level Data by Census Tract Tableau Dashboard

New members join South Carolina First Steps Leadership Team

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South Carolina First Steps has two new members of its leadership team. Karen Oliver joined the agency in February as the Early Childhood Advisory Council’s (ECAC) Program Manager, and Derek Cromwell started June 2 as Chief Partnership Officer. This week, the SC General Assembly is slated to approve the first-ever allocation of state funds to support the work of the Early Childhood Advisory Council including permanently supporting the Program Manager position.

All at-risk children in SC will soon be able to enroll in state-funded 4K program

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State lawmakers are set to fund an expansion of free full-day 4K for all at-risk four-year-olds in the state. A budget conference committee okayed a measure that would set aside $34 million for the expansion. Next week, South Carolina lawmakers are set to approve this and the full-budget plan.