South Carolina First Steps and partners celebrate Countdown to Kindergarten - SC First Steps

South Carolina First Steps and partners celebrate Countdown to Kindergarten

Statewide initiative directs families to summer programs, events, and resources that help prepare children for school

COLUMBIA, S.C. – More than 50,000 children will start kindergarten in South Carolina’s public schools this fall. To ensure that every child arrives ready to learn, the state’s early childhood agency is partnering with local schools and communities to connect families with vital information and support.

Countdown to Kindergarten is an annual summer initiative of South Carolina First Steps. Since 2004, the program has promoted successful transitions into school and focused public attention on the importance of kindergarten readiness.

“The transition from early childhood to elementary school is a big milestone and a critical window of opportunity for young children and their families,” said Georgia Mjartan, SC First Steps executive director. “We are proud to join partners across the state in making this year’s Countdown to Kindergarten the most impactful yet.”

After a competitive application process, SC First Steps awarded a total of $953,000 in federal grant funding to 40 local organizations to offer Countdown to Kindergarten programming this summer.

This year's Countdown to Kindergarten includes the following activities:

Public Awareness

The #COUNTDOWNSC social media campaign will direct families and communities to countdownsc.org, where they can find useful information to help prepare children for kindergarten. The new website includes tips and resources, a school directory, and calendar of local Countdown to Kindergarten events.

Community Events

Across the state, communities are hosting celebrations and learning opportunities for rising kindergartners and their families. SC First Steps has partnered with 19 organizations to offer free events at locations including children’s museums, libraries, parks, schools, and community centers. Event details will be available at countdownsc.org/find-a-celebration.

Family Engagement

SC First Steps coordinates with local First Steps nonprofits and schools to provide one-on-one support for children who may be at-risk for academic challenges. The program connects 4K and 5K teachers with their incoming students and families during the summer before school, with five sessions in the home and a final visit in the kindergarten classroom. Specialized support is available for dual-language learners and children with disabilities. In 2022, approximately 400 teachers are expected to participate, serving up to 2500 children.

2022 Countdown to Kindergarten funded partners include:

And Still We Rise (Lee, Darlington)
Anderson County First Steps
Aye’s Kinderoo Care (Richland)
Barnwell County First Steps
Calhoun County First Steps
Chester County First Steps
Children's Museum of the Upstate (Spartanburg)
Colleton County First Steps
Darlington County First Steps
Dorchester County First Steps
East Coast Migrant Head Start (Clarendon, Colleton, Orangeburg)
Edgefield County First Steps
Edventure Children’s Museum (Richland, Darlington, Horry)
Fairfield County First Steps
Florence County First Steps
Greenville County First Steps
Homeless No More (Richland)
Horry County First Steps
J'Dae Early Learning Academy (Dillon)
Kershaw County First Steps
Kershaw County School District
Lancaster County First Steps
Lee County First Steps
Lexington County First Steps
Lexington One Parenting Center (Lexington)
Little Creations Learning Center (Florence)
Marion County First Steps
McCormick County First Steps
Mingo Creek Academy (Georgetown)
Newberry County First Steps
Newberry County Library
PASOs (Richland, Spartanburg)
Pickens County First Steps
Ragin Preparatory Christian Academy (Sumter)
Richland County First Steps
SCETV (Beaufort)
Spartanburg County First Steps
Union County First Steps
Williamsburg County First Steps
York County First Steps

Funding for the 2022 Countdown to Kindergarten initiative comes from the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), a federal grant awarded to the South Carolina Department of Social Services by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, and from the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund administered by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Topics: School Transition, Local Partnerships, First Steps 4K, Home Visiting


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