Who We Are

Early Childhood Advisory Council

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

~Vision statement for South Carolina’s Birth through Five state system

Adopted by the SC Early Childhood Advisory Council~


About the Early Childhood Advisory Council

The South Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) includes directors of state agencies, elected officials and government entities and other state-level early childhood leaders. ECAC partner agencies providing services to young children include: SC Department of Health and Human Services, SC Department of Social Services, SC Department of Education,SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, SC First Steps, SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Children’s Trust of SC, and SC Head Start Collaboration Office. SC First Steps is the connector and convener of all early childhood serving agencies.

Early Childhood Advisory Council Members

David Morley, Governor's Designee, Chair

Julie Hussey, Parent of a Young Child, Vice Chair

Representative Rita Allison, SC House of Representatives

Representative Jerry N. Govan, SC House of Representatives

Senator Greg Hembree, SC Senate

Senator Gerald Malloy, SC Senate

Joshua Baker, SC Department of Health and Human Services, Director

Mary Lynne Diggs, SC Head Start Collaboration Office, Director

Michael Leach, SC Department of Social Services, Director

Dr. David Mathis, SC Department of Education, Deputy Superintendent - Superintendent's Designee

Mary Poole, SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Director

Dr. Richard Toomey, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, Director

Sue Williams, Children’s Trust of SC, Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Shelley Canright, Early Childhood Educator

Walter Fleming Jr., Business Community

Timothy Holt, Business Community

Angel Johnson-Brebner, Parent of a Young Child

Alexia Newman, Medical/ Childcare Development Provider

Jennifer McConnell, Childcare Provider

Roger Pryor Jr., Childcare Provider

Dr. Amy Williams, Medical Provider


The purpose of the ECAC is to carry out the following functions:

  • Conduct a periodic statewide needs assessment concerning the quality and availability of early childhood education and development programs and services for children from birth to the age of school entry, including an assessment of the availability of high-quality prekindergarten services for low-income children in the State;
  • Identify opportunities for, and barriers to, collaboration and coordination among federally funded and state-funded child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services, including collaboration and coordination among state agencies responsible for administering these programs;
  • Develop recommendations for increasing the overall participation of children in existing federal, state, and local child care and early childhood education programs, including outreach to underrepresented and special populations;
  • Develop recommendations regarding the establishment of a unified data collection system for public early childhood education and development programs and services throughout the State;
  • Develop recommendations regarding statewide professional development and career advancement plans for early childhood educators in the State;
  • Assess the capacity and effectiveness of two-year and four-year public and private institutions of higher education in the State for supporting the development of early childhood educators, including the extent to which these institutions have in place articulation agreements, professional development and career advancement plans, and practice or internships for students to spend time in a Head Start or prekindergarten program;
  • Make recommendations for improvements in state early learning standards and undertake efforts to develop high-quality comprehensive early learning standards, as appropriate;
  • Develop and publish, using available demographic data, an indicators-based measure of school readiness at the state and community level;
  • Incorporate, within the periodic statewide needs assessments required in 42 U.S.C. Section 9837b, any data related to the capacity and efforts of private sector providers, Head Start providers, and local school districts to serve children from birth to age five, including fiscal, enrollment, and capacity data; and
  • Perform all other functions, as permitted under federal and state law, to improve coordination and delivery of early childhood education and development to children in this State.

The Flow of Funds

Co-created with input from our partners, the Flow of Funds chart (click to enlarge) represents the flow of state and federal dollars in the early childhood system in South Carolina, as well as illustrates the collaborative body that makes up the Early Childhood Advisory Council. As an integrated system, many agencies collaborate and contract with each other to provide services to our children, parents, and child care educators. Therefore, the funds represented here are included under the agencies that receive the funds, not necessarily the ones doing work on the ground.

The Early Childhood Advisory Council at work

The Council works collaboratively on initiatives and projects to reach its goal to help children of South Carolina to reach their highest potential. Some important work currently being done is funded through the Preschool Development Grant (PDG), a $3.5 million federal grant to assist children in South Carolina birth through age five.

Some ECAC collaborative activities and projects are:

Palmetto Pre-K Jamboree, a top-flight professional development for teachers of four year-old children, was held concurrently in three parts of the state June 11-13, 2019. Four partner agencies (SC Department of Social Services, SC First Steps 4K, SC Department of Education and SC Head Start Collaboration Office) collaborated to provide professional development for 769 teachers and administrators and offered instruction on Conscious Discipline, ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Awareness, Powerful Play, Meaningful Early Learning Literacy Experiences and SC Early Learning Standards in 4K. The Palmetto Pre-K brand and logo were developed to establish a unifying identity for the early childhood education initiatives.

Palmetto Pre-K Portal flyer is a resource developed to list subsidized and free preschool opportunities available in South Carolina. It is intended to assist system navigators find services for parents and families.

Development of a Palmetto Pre-K Web Portal - A committee of partner agencies is working with Mad Monkey, a Web development company, to create the access portal PalmettoPreK.org. Parents and system navigators will be able to search for available subsidized or free childcare by supplying their location and answering questions to determine eligibility. The development of the site is well underway and will be available in the coming months.

Development of an Early Childhood Comprehensive Web Portal (First5SC.org) - A separate committee of partner agencies is working with Mad Monkey to create an access portal to increase South Carolina children's knowledge of and access to services across five categories: Child Care & Early Education, Health & Safety, Special Needs & Early Intervention, Food & Nutrition and Parenting & Family Support. The portal is in the beginning stages and will have its own branding and flyer.

Expansion of the Countdown to Kindergarten Program - The PDG funds have allowed for increased participation in the Countdown to Kindergarten school transition program and supported the creation of videos about the program. One video is a general overview of the program, and three others will be included in the training materials.


The PDG B-5 grant is led by the SC Department of Social Services and activities are coordinated and administered in partnership with SC Department of Education, SC First Steps and SC Head Start Collaboration Office. With this grant funding, South Carolina’s Early Childhood Education System (ECE) will increase access to quality early childhood programs and services for vulnerable children through:

  • Child-serving agencies and organizations sharing a common vision, goals, and outcomes for the state’s birth through five system;
  • Coordination, collaboration, and alignment across the state’s mixed delivery system that supports an increase in access for families;
  • Shared recruitment and applications processes;
  • Coordinated efforts to maximize parents’ knowledge of the Early Childhood Education system and available services;
  • Statewide activities to support transitions for children between various early childhood programs and into elementary school;
  • Shared professional development to better meet the complex social and emotional development needs of vulnerable children and families, including trauma-informed care;
  • Expanded supports to providers to improve quality; and
  • Improve data-driven decision making

The development and framework of the First 5 SC portal, First5SC.org, is underway. The online tools will transform the way families search and access services for children age 0-5. A flyer has been produced to assist in sharing the news about the scope and direction of the exciting new resource.

















South Carolina is applying for renewal of this impactful grant. A webinar with basic information about the grant and renewal process can be found here.