The SC Department of Social Services recently received positive news that a federal grant will be renewed to help the state continue expansion of early learning programs. The renewal grant provides $11 million per year, for up to three years, through the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) program administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
The Early Childhood Advisory Council, consisting of SCDSS, South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness, the SC Department of Education, and other child-serving agencies and stakeholders, was able to engage in several important projects through the initial $3.5 million PDG grant in 2018. Among the most significant outcomes achieved was completion of a statewide needs assessment of all services available to children from birth through age five statewide. Gaps in services were identified and a new web portal was developed that increased access to publicly-funded educational Pre-Kindergarten programs.
This next phase of funding will refine and update these items as well as continue work to strengthen quality of programs that serve the state’s most vulnerable or underserved populations of children, particularly those in rural areas.
Grant objectives for the next year include:
- Educating parents of young children on evidence-based parenting, child care quality, improving early learning transitions, and community outreach services.
- Engaging agencies and organizations to reduce equity gaps for vulnerable populations such as non-English speaking families and families who have young children with special needs.
- Expanding the existing web portal to list all publicly funded preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Launching First Five South Carolina, the state’s new universal access portal for all public services for children 0-5.
- Supporting child care providers to improve program quality for children and their families in their programs.
- Coordinating the efficient use of existing resources to improve the participation of children, particularly vulnerable, underserved or unserved children and children with or at risk for disabilities, in multiple Early Childhood programs.