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SC First Steps announces Early Childhood Innovation Grants

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South Carolina First Steps has awarded competitive grants totaling $282,731 to seven local First Steps nonprofits as part of its Early Childhood Innovation Grants program. The funding will expand programs and services that help prepare children for kindergarten.

$14.7 million in Federal Education Relief Awarded to First Steps for Early Childhood Health, Education, and Parenting

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July 28, 2021, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the South Carolina Department of Education will provide $14.7 million in ESSER III funding over the next three years to carry out early childhood initiatives in partnerships with South Carolina First Steps. The initiatives, which range from expanding pre-kindergarten education and home visiting programs to supporting infant and toddler health interventions and developmental screenings, will allow 25,000 children, parents, and caregivers to have access to resources and supports proven to improve education and health outcomes. Funding will expand the reach of Countdown to Kindergarten and Countdown to 4K, deepen the impact of afterschool and summer language and literacy programs for First Steps 4K students, expand evidence-based parenting programs for children birth through five and their families with a particular focus on families of infants and toddlers including Parents as Teachers and Early Steps, and establish or sustain Healthy Steps and PASOs early childhood health interventions based at primary care clinics and in the community. Read the press release for more details.

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.

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.

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.

New partnership provides child care scholarships for families

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Siblings of four-year-olds enrolled in the First Steps 4K program now qualify for child care scholarships thanks to a partnership between SC First Steps and the SC Department of Social Services.

South Carolina First Steps announces appointments to the Board of Trustees and Early Childhood Advisory Council

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Three new appointees have joined the SC First Steps Board of Trustees and the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council.

SC First Steps invests over $1 million to support families with young children during the COVID-19 crisis

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Funds will deploy 19 AmeriCorps national service members, address growing need among SC parents and caregivers for resources and support.

First Steps pledges $1M to expand services for SC families

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South Carolina First Steps has announced plans to invest more than $1 million in services for South Carolina families through a new competitive grant opportunity.