Early Education

First Steps leverages state, local and private resources to increase the quality of, and number of children participating in, high-quality pre-kindergarten programs in both the public and private sectors. Particular emphasis is placed on fidelity to research-based instructional models and targeting of students at-risk of early school failure. Through early education programs, First Steps seeks to:

  • Increase first grade readiness and pre-literacy skills of children through quality early education intervention
  • Increase ongoing 4K documentation, reporting and evaluation of results;
  • Increase the number of at-risk children served in quality 4K environments, public and private;
  • Increase the qualifications, professional development and access to training for personnel teaching public and private 4K programs;
  • Reduce the number of at-risk 4-year-olds on waiting lists;
  • Increase the evaluation and impact analysis of federal early education spending (Head Start, Early Head Start, Title I monies) in quality early education strategies at district levels;
  • Increase parent involvement strategies in 4K and 5K to impact involvement in K-12; and
  • Increase documentation and analysis of the state’s school readiness progress.


First Steps’ efforts to improve early education opportunities for young children in South Carolina include:

First Steps 4-year-old Kindergarten – As a co-administrator of the state’s Child Development Education Pilot Program, First Steps is now enrolling both eligible children and private preschool providers in 61 South Carolina school districts. For more information on First Steps 4K, click here.

Partnership Pre-K Expansion – Through its network of local partnerships, First Steps also works to expand high-quality preschool access in communities statewide. In some cases First Steps assists school districts to expand Pre-K offerings or to expand half-day programs to full-day. In other communities, partnerships work with private and non-profit partners to expand and improve preschool offerings in non-district settings.

Early Head Start – The First Steps Partnerships in Richland and Spartanburg Counties are federal Early Head Start grantees. Early Head Start is an evidence-based model designed to provide early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families, and pregnant women and their families. To learn more about Early Head Start, click here.

For more information on the offerings of First Steps in your community, click here.