First Steps 4K - SC First Steps

First Steps 4K

First Steps 4K offers free four-year-old kindergarten to qualifying children in South Carolina. We partner with more than 250 private, nonprofit, and faith-based centers across the state, making it easy for families to find a high-quality program that meets their needs.

Plus! First Steps 4K students and their siblings, ages 0-12, are now eligible for child care and after-school scholarships for up to 52 weeks. Learn more here.

Check Eligibility

Check to see if your child is eligible for the First Steps 4K program

Find a Program

Find a First Steps 4K Program near you

Apply Now

Submit an application to enroll in the First Steps 4K program


For the 2022-23 school year, a child must be:

  • 4 years old on September 1, 2022
  • Eligible for Medicaid, free/reduced-price lunch, or SNAP/TANF recipient; experiencing homelessness or transiency; or in foster care
  • A resident of South Carolina
  • 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. Learn more here.

 First Steps 4K PLUS

  • First Steps 4K students qualify for free extended care (before- and after-school)
  • Siblings, ages 0-12, of enrolled First Steps 4K students qualify for child care and after-school scholarships
  • Sibling scholarships can be applied toward enrollment at any licensed child care center or afterschool program that participates in ABC Quality, the state’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system.
  • Families can apply online for both First Steps 4K and First Steps 4K + Siblings at
  • Learn more here!

How It Works

Families can select the private, community-based, or faith-based program of their choice. All First Steps 4K programs are in-person, 5 days per week, throughout the school year. Most providers offer a full day (8 hour) program and/or operate year-round, continuing through summer.

Find a Program

Target Outcomes

Research shows that children who attend a high-quality preschool program are more successful in kindergarten and beyond. First Steps 4K aims to increase participation, quality, and professional development in private, community-based, and faith-based 4K programs across the state.

Community Impact


children served with the First Steps 4K program in 2019-2020


approved First Steps 4K program providers in 2019-2020

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