The room was filled with anticipation, and every chair was occupied at one of the final Needs Assessment Regional Meetings for the state’s Preschool Development Grant held at the Northeast Richland Library on May 29. Representatives from child care centers, non-profit organizations and government agencies across the state attended for the sole purpose of helping our youngest citizens be more successful.
The session was moderated by University of South Carolina Research Assistant Professor Leigh D’Amico who recorded feedback from the group on goals drafted from previous meetings across the state in March and April. Participants divided into smaller groups to discuss goals for Early Learning and Development, Health and Wellbeing, or Family and Community.
The genuine concern for the state’s caregivers and children was evident as each group expressed barriers and potential solutions. Some goals discussed centered around the need for resources, professional development and collaboration to help caregivers better understand the little ones they serve. Other goals focused on tackling the challenges of teacher shortages, language and cultural barriers and transportation/access to services. The common theme was clear; the system needs to be improved and updated.
The meeting ended with a word of thanks from the moderator, and participants left with a sense of hope that the state is moving toward a better tomorrow.
The one-year federal $3.5 million Preschool Development Grant was awarded to South Carolina in January to find and identify early childhood education services for parents. The South Carolina Department of Social Services is executing the grant, and activities are being coordinated and administered by partners S.C. First Steps, The Department of Education, the Head Start Collaboration Office and the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council.