COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman announced the funding of several early childhood education and parenting support initiatives.
This is part of the state's response to the impact of the virus on the state's education system. The money comes from the $211 million from the American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
The $14.7 million will allow children access to resources like health education programs in order to improve education and health outcomes for local communities.
The agency provided the following information about how the money will be spent:
When children and their families are supported in their transitions between early childhood settings and from early childhood into kindergarten, they experience less stress and are more likely to succeed. Those programs are advantageous in supporting populations at higher risk for transition challenges such as English language learners and children with disabilities.
Countdown to Kindergarten and Countdown to 4K support strong school transitions by connecting rising three year olds and rising kindergartners, their families, and their teachers in a series of one-on-one visits during the summer. Teachers complete six visits with each child's family, five in the family's home and a final visit in the early childhood or kindergarten classroom. Working together, teachers and families establish strong connections during the summer that facilitate classroom learning throughout the year.
Funding will serve an additional 5,550 students over three years.
Expanded Afterschool and Summer Language and Literacy Programs
First Steps providers will receive supplemental funding to serve an additional 3,000 preschool aged children over the summer and through after school programs over the next three years.
Evidence-Based Parenting Programs
Parents are a child’s first teacher and the additional stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic can significantly impact their ability to provide their children with the supports needed for health development and school readiness. Evidence-based parenting programs that utilize home visiting models have proven successful in South Carolina and beyond. A 2019 study by the University of South Carolina found that children who received these services administered by First Steps were 74% more likely to demonstrate readiness on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and 34% less likely to be chronically absent in kindergarten.
Funding will expand proven programs including Parents as Teachers, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, and Save the Children’s Early Steps in additional counties and school districts in South Carolina.
Early Childhood Health and Development
The SCDE and First Steps partnership will support two national, evidence-based health education programs that target at-risk communities and mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 on young children and their families by facilitating positive, regular interactions between families and their pediatricians.
HealthySteps, a program focused on individuals aged birth to three, is an evidence-based, team-based pediatric primary care program that promotes the health, well-being and school readiness of babies and toddlers, with an emphasis on families living in low-income communities.
Founded in 2005, PASOs supports the Latino community by providing education on family health, early childhood, and positive parenting skills. PASOs’ partnerships with health care and social service providers help them provide more effective services.
Funding will expand Healthy Steps and PASOs sites in South Carolina allowing them to serve more young learners and their families.
In addition to funding these programs and initiatives, the SCDE will supply funds to be used by First Steps to ensure the programs are able to recruit and retain qualified individuals.