Who We Are

About Us

South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness (SCFS) is both a nonprofit and state agency and is the only dedicated comprehensive early childhood agency in South Carolina focused on getting children ready for school and life success. We serve more than 30,000 children in 81 school districts across 46 counties.

At our core, we are a children and family first organization. We work to support the success of all kids from birth through age five by serving families, their communities and early childhood education providers.

Established in 1999 by the South Carolina General Assembly to close the gap on students’ preparedness for success in school, South Carolina First Steps takes a holistic approach to accomplishing our mission of preparing all kids for success in school, work and life, offering services that improve children’s health, strengthen families, expand access to quality child care, increase participation in four-year-old kindergarten (4K) programs and help transition rising kindergartners into school.


South Carolina First Steps works collaboratively to ensure that all children start school ready to reach their highest potential with engaged support from their parents, caregivers, and communities.


We will be successful when all children reach their highest potential.


Children. From prenatal development through age five, our focus and priority are young children and their families and caregivers.

Relationships. We cultivate positive, supportive, respectful, and reinforcing interactions between people that shape development, build community, increase success and productivity, foster learning and growth, and affirm the unique value of individuals, caregivers, parents and children.

Equity. We ensure all people have the opportunity and resources to be successful and that all voices are solicited and heard.

High quality. We ensure that our programs and services are culturally-responsive, inclusive, and developmentally-appropriate and are delivered with fidelity to the model being implemented. Our products, services, and operations are marked by excellence.

Results. We produce meaningful and measurable impact and outcomes.


Every Child Ready, the South Carolina First Steps Strategic Plan, is a five-year road map for achieving our mission and moving toward our vision of success for every child. Access the plan here.


South Carolina First Steps is a public-private partnership with the ability to use state, federal and private funds to accomplish our state-wide mission.  In addition to developing, funding and supporting programs and initiatives statewide, South Carolina First Steps also operates as a connector and convener serving as the Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) for the state of South Carolina.  In this capacity, our work includes integrating government and private systems to ensure all children begin school ready to succeed.

Each of South Carolina’s 46 counties houses a South Carolina First Steps local partnership responsible for meeting local needs and identifying collaborative opportunities to help young learners through programs that provide early intervention, strengthen families, improve children’s health and well-being, increase the quality of early care and education, and help transition rising kindergarteners into school.

Through this local partnership network, SCFS reaches children from birth through age five and their families in every section of the state. With funding from the state, annually, SCFS provides over 2,200 four-year-old children with access to Pre-K4 across 64 school districts.

Each local South Carolina First Steps office operates as a separate nonprofit--with its own board of directors—made up of local leadership and people in the community. Local partnerships also create and implement their own strategic plan and have the discretion to operate in a way that best meets the needs of the local community. Each office can tailor its services to directly meet the needs of local families.