Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- For many parents, deciding when and where to start educating their child is big decision. A national report now claims early education is falling behind across the country, and South Carolina is no different.
But one local group says its data paints a different picture.
"South Carolina has been very lucky over a number of year, we really have led the nation in a lot of ways," said Dan Wuori, Chief Program Officer with South Carolina First Steps.
As one of the first states in the nation to create a publicly funded 4-year-old kindergarten program back in the 80s, Wuori says our state sees the importance of early education.
"Children who have participated in high quality pre-k programs have been shown for decades after their participation to produce a whole variety of positive outcomes," said Wouri.
A new report says the state is falling behind when it comes to pre-k. The National Institute for Early Education Research says enrollment and funding for the youngest students in our state have fallen behind.
The report says South Carolina has dropped in its ranking of 3-year-olds enrolling, but acknowledges an increase with 4-year-olds
According to data from First Steps, South Carolina has seen an increase in students receiving some form of early education from 2006 to 2011...moving from 42-point 4 percent to 50-point-7.
Wuori says the state provided about $35 million dollars for pre-k programs in the current budget, but local districts have kicked in about $58.4 million for our states youngest learners.
Still in the end he says it's always best to start as soon as possible.
"Young children are learning from the day they are born and so it's best that we not wait until 4-year-old kindergarten. It's important that parents understand that they are their child's first and very best teachers and be working with those children right from the very outset to make sure that they're going to be successful in the long run," said Wuori.