In 2019, South Carolina First Steps was named a state partner agency within the Alliance for Early Success, a national network connecting state early childhood advocacy organizations with national funders and technical assistance organizations to promote state-level policy changes benefitting children birth through age 8. Alliance for Early Success awarded First Steps an initial partner grant of $25,000 (9/1/2019 - 8/31/2020) to support the development and roll-out of South Carolina’s early childhood state strategic plan with grassroots and grasstops audiences. Alliance for Early Success is also providing technical assistant to support the further development of a Children's Cabinet structure for the Early Childhood Advisory Council.
A $3.5 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Administration for Children and Families was awarded to the SC Department of Social Services in December, 2018. Known as the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through 5 (PDG), this one-year grant required work in five key activity areas over the course of a single year: Needs Assessment; Strategic Planning; Maximizing Parent Knowledge; Sharing Best Practices; and Improving Overall Quality. South Carolina First Steps was a key strategic partner in obtaining and executing the grant, receiving $1.3 million in grant funds and providing more than $1 million in state match. Due to a delay in the receipt of funds a no-cost extension was granted and work on the grant officially concluded on February 29, 2020.
The Preschool Development Birth Through 5 Renewal Grant to build upon the initial work of the PDG grant is a federal grant to support the expansion of early childhood programs and services in South Carolina. The award provides $11 million per year for up to three years. The South Carolina Department of Social Services is executing the grant, and activities are being coordinated and administered by partners SC First Steps, the Department of Education, the SC Head Start Collaboration Office and the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. Funding will allow South Carolina’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) system to continue to work towards its goal to increase access to quality early childhood programs and services for vulnerable children.
PDG activities overview
Grant activities support the following outcomes:
Child-serving agencies and organizations share a common vision, goals, and outcomes for the state’s birth through five system
Coordination, collaboration, and alignment across the state’s mixed delivery system support an increase in access for families
Shared recruitment and application processes for families
Coordinated efforts to maximize parents’ knowledge, choice, and engagement
Statewide activities to support transitions for children between various early childhood programs and into elementary school
Shared professional development to better meet the complex social and emotional development needs of vulnerable children and families
Expanded supports to providers to improve quality
Improved data-driven decision making
Robust evaluation and continuous quality improvement
Palmetto Pre-K serves families of 3 and 4-year-old children and system navigators with a parent portal to access the state's free public Pre-K programs, with family engagement programs and by providing high-quality professional development opportunities for 4K teachers.
First Five SC
First Five SC transforms the way families access publicly-funded early childhood programs and services in South Carolina. Through a single online portal, families and their advocates can find information about child care, health, early intervention, nutrition, and parenting support programs in their area. A single online application makes it easy to apply for multiple programs in just a few minutes.
Statewide Strategic Plan and Needs Assessment
The groundwork for the collaborative plan gives voice to the many participants heard in the SC Needs Assessment Report, a document produced using Preschool Development Grant Birth-5 funds to understand statewide priorities for South Carolina's young children and their families.
PDG Progress Notes (Blog)
South Carolina has received a $3.3 million federal grant to incorporate early childhood programs into the state’s existing system for capturing and tracking student progress through school. The Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program awarded the funds competitively based on South Carolina’s plan to extend its existing K-12 data system to early childhood programs, and to make the information more accessible to the public. The four-year grant is part of a national effort to help states and educators better understand what works for students and facilitate research to increase student achievement and narrow achievement gaps.
Read more in our press release.
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